04/01/12 — County students picked for Governor's School

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County students picked for Governor's School

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 1, 2012 1:50 AM

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Morgan Howell

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Sydney Villarreal

Two Wayne County students have been chosen to attend Governor's School this summer.

The fact that there is a 2012 session is even more impressive because the program's future was in question after funding was eliminated in the General Assembly's 2011-13 biennial budget.

Then the N.C. Governor's School Foundation came to the rescue, raising $700,000 to continue the prestigious program. There were two slight changes in the format -- reducing the number of participants this year from 600 to 550 and session length from six weeks to five.

The money raised is in addition to a $500 per-student tuition fee enacted in 2010 to help offset program costs. The local district will cover that fee.

Selected from Wayne County Public Schools were Sydney Villarreal, currently a junior at Eastern Wayne High School, and Morgan Howell, a junior at Spring Creek High School.

Students are nominated by local school superintendents, charter school directors or private school headmasters. Each school system is allotted a certain number of nominations based on 10th and 11th grade populations. They are nominated in 10 curriculum areas: art, choral music, dance, English, mathematics, foreign language, instrumental music, natural science, social science and theater.

Governor's School is the oldest statewide summer residential program for academically and intellectually gifted high school students in the country. It is open to seniors only, with the exception of rising juniors in the visual/performing arts.

Sessions are held on two campuses -- Governor's School West, established in 1963, at Salem College in Winston-Salem, and Governor's School East, introduced in 1978, at Meredith College in Raleigh.

The next session will run from June 17-July 21.

Miss Villarreal will study English at Governor's School East. Miss Howell will study art at Governor's School West.

Local and state officials congratulated the students on the accomplishment.

"I'm thrilled these students are going to be able to participate in Governor's School this year and benefit from this unique learning environment that encourages inquisitiveness and creativity," said June Atkinson, state superintendent of schools. "I hope lawmakers will step up to the plate and reinstate the funds to continue this exemplary program that has had such a positive impact on our state."

Dr. Steve Taylor, schools superintendent, likewise praised the program, which historically has boasted good representation from Wayne County.

"We congratulate Ms. Villarreal and Ms. Howell on their achievement of being accepted to attend this prestigious program and commend the N. C. Governor's School Foundation for their ongoing efforts to keep this program going," he said.