Jay Sherrill: Save the North Carolina Governor’s School

Published 12:21 am Thursday, May 25, 2017

By Jay Sherrill

Special to the Salisbury Post

North Carolina’s Governor’s School is a publicly-funded, nearly six-week summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts and unique courses. The curriculum explores the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline and does not involve credit, tests or grades.

The Governor’s School is the oldest such statewide program in the nation. This program is now facing elimination at the hands of the N.C. General Assembly. The state Senate’s proposed budget would eliminate Governor’s School state funding and redistribute it to other programs, including a new Legislative School for Leadership & Public Service that would serve a different mission. I am asking that our representatives in the N.C. House reject this proposal and restore funding to Governor’s  School.

I had the pleasure of attending Governor’s School at the West Campus for the 2015 session. It was truly a life-changing experience, where I made lifelong friends and learned a lot about becoming independent. I attended Governor’s School as a social science student, with our primary studies of the summer consisting of American politics and current national issues. During my stay, I learned a lot about who I am and where I stand on issues, because this was one of the few times I have had the opportunity to sit down and actually study them in-depth.

I had the incredible opportunity to study with students from across the state and learn about their backgrounds and perspectives.

My stay at Governor’s School was also challenging, as I had never been away from my family for so long or lived on my own for such a duration of time. It was interesting to make new friends immediately, to have to think about when the best time to do my laundry would be, and deciding how to schedule the rest of my time without any sort of approval from a parental figure. I learned so much at Governor’s School about who I am and it was an experience that I will forever cherish.

The transition from the renown and prestige of the nation’s oldest Governor’s School to a Legislative School for Leadership and Public Service will be negative for students. This is a partisan attempt to dismantle a widely-respected academic program that has served more than 35,000 of North Carolina’s brightest students.

There is absolutely no purpose in removing the vast name recognition associated with Governor’s School, the rigorous academic curriculum it provides or the 53 years of experience it has in order to simply replace it with a partisan program controlled by the General Assembly.

Lastly, I believe Governor’s School was one of the main reasons that I am able to attend Wake Forest University on a full-ride scholarship. My time at Governor’s School taught me a lot about how to carry myself, how to speak to others of differing views, and so much about topics that I care about — which helped me when interviewing for the Graylyn Scholarship at Wake Forest University. Governor’s School was an impressive part of my application and played an incredible role in allowing me to continue my education beyond high school.

I thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to attend Governor’s School and the doors it has opened for me. In addition, I have proudly proclaimed how supportive North Carolina is of pushing students to become their best by allowing them the opportunity to study their interests at a prestigious institution like Governor’s School. Full funding for Governor’s School only requires $800,000 out of a $22.9 billion state budget.

Again, I ask that N.C. representatives reject the Senate’s proposed budget cut and support maintaining state funding for Governor’s School. To do otherwise is to deny North Carolina’s students the opportunity of a lifetime to grow and excel in the nation’s premier Governor’s School summer program.

Jay Sherrill of Cleveland is a student at Wake Forest University.