• Governor's Schools
    Offer Summer Enrichment

    Posted by Josh Flory on 11/12/2018
    Avery Ancelet, Alan Boles and Helen Babb are pictured at West High School.
    Avery Ancelet, Alan Boles and Helen Babb are students at West High School, and each attended one of the Tennessee Governor's Schools.

    Many high school students spend their summer vacation lifeguarding, working in a restaurant or catching up on sleep.

    Alan Boles, though, spent part of last summer at an immersive computer programming course that included a field trip to a NASA research center and hands-on exercises that explored heat diffusion through metal.

    Boles, a senior at West High School, was part of the Tennessee Governor’s School in Computational Physics, which meets every summer at Austin Peay State University. It’s one of 11 Governor’s Schools across the state that offer rising 11th- and 12th-grade students an intense, residential program in courses including the arts, education, business and the sciences.

    Boles said he had taken math and physics in high school, but it was helpful to see how those courses are taught in a college environment, with more students and less time during class for questions.

    He was also impressed by trips to the NASA Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Computational Sciences facility, in Oak Ridge.

    The benefit, he said, is meeting with professionals who pursued similar academic tracks, “just seeing where you can go with a degree in that field, what you can do professionally and talking to them about things you’re interested in.”

    The Governor’s School for the Arts has a $2,850 program fee and an activity fee of $350, although there may be scholarships available to offset those costs. At the other Governor’s Schools, there is no charge for tuition, room and board. Some programs have additional activity fees, although need-based financial aid may be available for those costs.

    Students must be nominated by a teacher, counselor or administrator at their school in order to apply. The application deadline for the Governor’s School for the Arts was Nov. 9, but the deadline for the other schools is Dec. 1.

    Sarah Bast, a school counselor at West, said around a dozen West students typically get accepted into one of the Governor’s Schools, and that the ability to meet like-minded students from across the state is one of the selling points.

    “It really is an amazing experience,” said Bast. “Most kids that I talk to come back and say it’s the best experience I’ve had in high school.”

    West senior Helen Babb attended the Humanities School at UT-Martin last summer, while her twin sister, Elizabeth, attended the International Studies School at the University of Memphis in the summer of 2017.

    Helen Babb studied art history and world music, and said one area of focus was the global influence of music from the African Diaspora.

    During the program, she became good friends with two other students from Knoxville, and part of their time was spent discussing ways they could give back to the city in the future. “I think it was really about connecting with fellow like-minded scholars who wanted to help their communities, and figuring out ways we could actually do that once we came back to Knoxville,” she said.

    Part of the program’s appeal is the chance to meet well-known scholars and thinkers in a variety of fields. Elizabeth Babb said her school included a visit from Philip Mudd, a CNN analyst and former U.S. counter-terrorism official, and a talk by a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.

    Avery Ancelet attended the Governor’s School For The Arts, where she specialized in vocal music. In addition to learning about theory and technique, Ancelet said she got a weekly voice lesson from Hope Koehler, a soprano at West Virginia University who has performed around the world.

    Ancelet, who plans to study music therapy in college with a focus on autism, said she has stayed in touch with Koehler, and recently got advice about an upcoming audition.

    She also said the Governor’s School program gave her the confidence that a career in music was achievable: “It was awesome.”

    For more information about the Tennessee Governor's Schools, visit the program's website.