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Science Hill Students Reflect on Tennessee Governor’s School

Science Hill Students Reflect on Tennessee Governor’s School
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This summer, 12 Science Hill students attended one of eleven Tennessee Governor’s Schools, often abbreviated as “Gov School” by students and faculty. According to Tennessee’s Department of Education website, Governor’s Schools provide challenging and high-intensity programs for high-achieving rising 11th and 12th grade students. With acceptance rates as low as 20 percent, programs span a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to Agricultural Sciences, Business Leadership, Humanities, International Studies, and Sciences and Engineering. Each month-long program offers students a unique opportunity to dive deep into their academic interests and work closely with experts in a variety of fields.

For many students, the decision to apply to a Governor’s School was founded in a desire to explore a particular field of study with friends. Owen Hoover, rising senior, says that since his mother teaches English at Milligan University, he wanted to delve deeper into this subject by applying for the Humanities program. Ryan Zheng, rising junior, says that he wanted to find people at Science and Engineering Gov School who shared his interest in physics and math.

Both students found the application process to be accessible.

“The application process was very simple,” says Zheng. “I talked to my counselor about applying for a Governor’s school and he guided me through the different steps I needed to take, including getting my transcript and recommendation letters in.”

Hoover echoes a similar sentiment, stating, “I had to submit my resume, 2 letters of recommendation from teachers, and several samples of my writing. Getting the letters was slightly stressful, but overall, the process was pretty simple. I wasn’t certain I would get in, but I was fairly confident that I would be accepted.”

For these Science Hill students, the Governor’s School experience lived up to their expectations in varying ways. Hoover, who attended the Governor’s School for the Humanities, had high hopes for the program, especially since some of his friends had attended similar schools in the past. His expectations were not only met but exceeded, as he describes the experience as wonderful and one that he will cherish for years to come. He attributes much of his enjoyment to the people he met, both students and staff.

“My favorite part was definitely the people I got to meet, both student and staff. My counselor was wonderful, my teachers were excellent and extremely helpful, and I made deeper friendships there than I feel like I have made at home,” Hoover reflects.

On the other hand, Zheng’s experience at the Governor’s School of Science and Engineering was different from what he had anticipated. While the application process was smooth, the coursework turned out to be easier than he expected. Despite this, he found immense value in the opportunity to socialize and make close friendships.

“Contrary to my expectations, the coursework was very easy, and I didn’t learn too much from the classes. On the other hand, I got lots of time to just hang out with the other students and had the opportunity to make many close friends,” Zheng explains.

Both students discovered that Governor’s School provided an environment where they could connect with peers who shared similar interests, fostering a tight-knit community during their month-long experience. Hoover’s initial interest in exploring humanities further and Zheng’s desire to find like-minded individuals in STEM subjects were both fulfilled during their time at Governor’s School.

Furthermore, the experience offered valuable insights into residential life, especially for Zheng, who hadn’t prepared extensively for the dorm living but learned to adapt to a more independent lifestyle.

“I didn’t really prepare, instead I just went and adapted to the life at GSSE when I got there. The experience definitely gave me a lot of insight into the freedom of living on my own without parental guidance,” Zheng remarks.

These Science Hill students’ reflections on their time at Governor’s School highlight the unique opportunities these programs provide for academic exploration, personal growth, and forming meaningful connections. For those fortunate enough to attend, Governor’s Schools offer an unforgettable summer experience that extends far beyond the classroom, shaping the way they approach their studies and friendships in the years to come.

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About the Contributor
Sophia Stone, Editor-In-Chief
Sophia, senior, joined the Hilltopper Herald her freshman year as a features writer. In addition to her executive role in the Herald, Sophia has reported for the Johnson City Press on teen mental health and youth issues. She has a passion for journalism, literature, cello, and public forum debate. Her favorite book series is Harry Potter (proud Slytherin) and her hobbies include doom scrolling the news, refreshing 538 polls daily, and procrastinating.
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