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Local students participate in Governor's Scholars

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By Calen McKinney

 

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They spent the summer learning about themselves and others, and making memories they say will last a lifetime.

This summer, 12 local high school students attended Governor's Scholars programs at Murray State University, Morehead State University and Bellarmine University.

Created in 1983, the goal of GSP is to provide academic and personal growth through a liberal arts program with a complete co-curricular and residential life experience. Students must complete an application to attend GSP, and those selected attend for free.

TCHS Guidance Counselor Keith Benningfield said students complete an extensive application to attend GSP during their junior year.

At TCHS, a committee of school, school board and community members score the applications. Based on a school's population, a set number of students are submitted to attend GSP. Those with the highest scores on the applications are sent to a state-level committee for selection.

Benningfield said colleges offer scholarships based on GSP attendance and ACT scores.

"It is very competitive and is an excellent opportunity and honor for each student," he said.

"Every student will state that GSP was worth the effort and serves as a recognition for all of their hard work in academics, community service and school involvement."

Benningfield said Kentucky has one of the largest GSP programs in the United States.

TCHS Guidance Counselor Dana Rogers said GSP can open doors for students to succeed past high school and helps participants build confidence.

She said students who want to participate in GSP should visit www.gsp.ky.gov to read about past participants' experiences and tips for completing the application.

Eight students from Taylor County High School attended GSP this summer and four attended from Campbellsville High School.

CHS students who attended are Emily Haley, Katelyn McMahan, Nathan Riggs and Mollie Williams.

The TCHS students who participated are Taylor Agathen, Michael Hart, Hayden McCubbin, Elijah Myers, Becca Orberson, Alexa Parker, Mitchell Tinnell and Caleb Wigginton.

The students were asked to complete a questionnaire about their experiences. Their answers follow.

CAMPBELLSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Emily Haley

Parents: Dr. Arthur and Patty Haley

College: Murray State University

Focus Area: Dramatic Expression

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I wanted to attend GSP because of all the opportunities it provided. I was given the chance to spend a summer on a college campus and learn about so many different subjects.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: At GSP, I was in the focus area of dramatic expression. In this class, I was given the opportunity to explore all different types of art. The art ranged from acting on a stage to exploring downtown Paducah and their quilt museum and murals. I chose dramatic expression because I had never acted before, but had always loved theater.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: From my experience, I learned how to direct plays and open my eyes to all the works of art.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was getting to meet so many people my age from all over Kentucky. I also loved all the activities I was able to participate in from sports to clubs.

Katelyn McMahan

Parents: Ron and Cathy McMahan

College: Morehead State University

Focus Area: Creative Writing and Literary Studies

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: Many of my friends had attended GSP and had told me how fantastic their experiences were. It sounded like something I would be interested in. I had also heard about the amazing scholarship opportunities, and, of course, that drew me in as well.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: My focus area was creative writing and literary studies. I love to write, and this class proved to be one of my favorite activities this summer. We analyzed feuds in class literature, read Frankenstein, wrote our own feud stories and studied the Roan County War (Tolliver-Martin feud).

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned the importance of pouring myself back into the state. We talked a lot about the "brain drain" (bright minds moving out of state) and after hearing the great need for professionals in Kentucky, I am now considering staying in Kentucky! Also, I've learned that I have more in common with people from different backgrounds than I ever knew.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was living in a community of lovers of learning. Everyone there was bright, highly involved and ambitious. Some of my best friends now I met at GSP.

Nathan Riggs

Parents: Kenny and Lisa Riggs

College: Murray State University

Focus Area: Spanish Language and Culture

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I wanted to attend GSP because I knew it would be a great opportunity and would help prepare me for college.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: We had four to six hours of classes a day. I was in the Spanish Language and Culture focus area. We spent a lot of time speaking Spanish and learning about different Hispanic cultures. I chose Spanish because I love speaking and learning about Spanish. After class, we had lots of free time where we could spend time with our friends or go to some of the many campus-wide events.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned a lot about different parts of the state and I improved my Spanish a lot. I also learned about business through my general studies class.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was meeting a lot of new people from around here and all parts of the state.

Mollie Williams

Parents: Donna and Chuck White

College: Morehead State University

Focus Area: Spanish Language and Culture

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I had heard a lot of great things about GSP and thought spending a summer with people similar to myself sounded fun. I also thought it would be an excellent way to gain access to many college scholarships.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: My GSP experience was the 35 quickest days but five shortest weeks of my life. I learned things that aren't taught in high school. For example, one general studies class was spent learning how to purchase a car. I did not actually choose Spanish Language and Culture. It was chosen for me. I was hesitant at first but ended up expanding my Spanish communicative skills.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: From my experiences at GSP, I learned people are not always as they seem. The only way to begin to know someone is to spend time listening to them and their experiences.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was the community-like atmosphere. By the end of the five weeks, you were friends with everyone on campus. I loved making plans to keep in touch with the people I met.

TAYLOR COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

Taylor Agathen

Parents: Clark and Kaye Agathen

College: Bellarmine University

Focus Area: Dramatic Expression

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I had heard about GSP from several of my friends and past scholars. They spoke highly of GSP and their experiences, but nothing anyone said truly did GSP justice. GSP also offers a variety of great scholarships that I am very interested in.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: GSP was an unforgettable experience. It is unlike anything else and was undoubtedly the best summer of my life. The classes, programs and activities are unique and not like school at all (they are so much better). I chose my focus area, Dramatic Expression, because I enjoy being on stage and I am a fourth-year show choir member. But drama class was so new and different to me. I loved every moment of it. Ending the summer performing a drama piece written by my focus area was one of the best parts of GSP.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned about various types of people from all across Kentucky. GSP helped me to gain a new kind of confidence and open mind. GSP also teaches great people skills. That was one of my favorite parts of GSP. I loved the constant interaction with others.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was the super close friendships made. I gained five new, life-long best friends from GSP. I have no other words but absolutely amazing for describing GSP.

Michael Hart

Parents: Dr. Cynthia and Scott Hart

College: Bellarmine University

Focus Area: Biological and Environmental Issues

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: In 2011, my older brother had gone to the program at Murray State. When he came home, he painted a vivid picture of a program that inspired him to be a stronger student and to leave his comfort zone. My brother's experience is what inspired me to attend GSP.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: GSP was an organization that inspired growth in myself and in my peers. I have never been to [a] program that was so dedicated to enriching rising Kentucky scholars. Biology has been one of the most powerful subjects in my life. The study of life has given me more new perspectives than any other focus. I chose biology because it had already had an impact on my life.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: GSP taught me that you are never alone if you are willing to step outside your comfort zones. More than that, I learned what it was like to be around people who, like me, were always asking questions.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: For me, the best part of GSP was making friends. I have always felt alone when I didn't know the people I was around but I never felt that way at GSP. The students were always friendly, and that made me feel so much better about myself. The best part of GSP was learning that I could make new friends.

Hayden McCubbin

Parents: W.D. and Cynthia McCubbin

College: Morehead State University

Focus Area: Political and Legal Issues

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: The main reason I wanted to be a part of GSP was the fact that most state schools give a sizable scholarship to governor's scholars.

Question: GSP was one of the greatest things that I've been able to experience. I made a lot of great friends and had the chance to learn about law in my focus area, which I requested because I would like to become a lawyer.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned that friends can easily become family, there's no reason to not be happy, and sometimes not having your cell phone can be a good thing.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: There was no best part of GSP. No one thing would have been the same without all of the others. The people were amazing, the classes were fun and interesting, the dances were unforgettable and the experience was something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Elijah Myers

Parents: Gerald and Terry Myers

College: Morehead State University

Focus Area: Cultural Anthropology

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I wanted to attend GSP for the experience and the scholarship opportunities. Although I'll receive free tuition to college, the friends that I made at GSP are more valuable to me.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: My GSP experience was indescribable. It was easily the best five weeks of my life and will be an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I picked Cultural Anthropology because it was an area I had little knowledge of and wished to get a better grasp of.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: In my focus area, I learned about different cultures' definitions of success. I came to realize that success isn't necessarily about monetary wealth, but instead living of a life of happiness. This translated to my overall GSP experience where I made the rest of my time and had a fantastic opportunity.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: Socializing with other scholars was by far the best part of GSP. Whether it was in the classroom, in the dorms, at dances or other functions on campus, it was amazing to interact with the best and brightest of our Commonwealth. GSP gave me life-long friends and for that I will be forever grateful.

Becca Orberson

Parents: Johnny and Sonya Orberson

College: Murray State University

Focus Area: Dramatic Expression

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I wanted to attend GSP because I wanted to experience that I could come back and share with others. Also, because I have always heard past scholars talk about their GSP experiences and how they made life-long friendships. I would have to say the main reason though would be I wanted to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. GSP is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: GSP is really hard to describe. You do so many things in just a short period of time. I had a blast while there and met so many new people, not only in class but outside of it. Dramatic Expression, we did so many things; visited the quilt museum, put on a production for the entire campus and even attempted a flash mob. I had the best summer of my life there and wish I could do it all over again.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: From this experience, I not only learned about different forms of expressions, other cultures, but I learned more about myself. GSP is a community where you can be yourself and have 350 other scholars supporting you. GSP is more than a five-week camp for "smart kids," it's about trying new things and being yourself.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: My favorite part of GSP would have to be the showcases every Friday and all the close friendships I made during my time at Murray. My hall and I became so close and did everything together. They are my sisters I never had and I consider them my best friends. We all still keep in contact, not only by text messages but writing letters to one another. GSP surrounds you with new people you can get to know and have friendships that last you a lifetime.

Alexa Parker

Parents: Steven and Shannon Lee

College: Murray State University

Focus Area: Healthcare Industry

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I heard it was a great experience and was a wonderful way to expand my horizons and grow as a person. It was also a good way to learn more and see more hands on an area of study I may want to pursue.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: GSP was one of the best experiences of my life. It well exceeded all expectations, and I know I've grown as a person for being part of it. I chose my focus area because it's a field I would like to go into after college. This was one of the best chances for me to really go in-depth and learn more about it. I learned it's better than I ever expected.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned some new counties in Kentucky from being in the program and making friends across the state. I learned more about schools of medicine and strangely enough, geography and map-making. I learned to be myself and to try to make every day memorable.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: Going on a field trip with my focus area to Louisville and Lexington to visit the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy and Dr. Fraiser's the MIJ lab and the Lion's Eye Institute. Even more memorable it was the first time in GSP history scholars crossed campuses. I not only stayed on Murray's campus. When we went on this trip, we spent the night at Bellarmine's GSP campus where I had the privilege of seeing one of my best friends from here at home, Michael. In all the unfamiliar faces I'd seen it was nothing short of a relief to spend some time with a good friend. Learning, making GSP history and seeing my friend in two days was the best!

Mitchell Tinnell

Parents: David and Joan Tinnell and Donna and Pete Hedgepath

College: Morehead State University

Focus Area: Musical Theory and Performance

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: I've always heard that GSP was an amazing experience and I was curious to find out for myself. I was excited to meet new people, try new things and learn things in a different way.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: GSP is almost indescribable. It is an incredible experience in every aspect, from day-to-day life to special trips and events. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to apply to do so. I tried to pick focus areas from a wide range of topics, but, in the end, I was glad to get music because it is my passion.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: I learned a ton of different things at GSP, but the No. 1 take away point is that this world is full of all sorts of people. You may not agree with them, but you can still choose to get along.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: The best part of GSP was all the awesome people I got to meet and hang out with. I made a lot of friends that I still keep in touch with and hopefully will for life.

Caleb Wigginton

Parents: Scott and Elizabeth Wigginton

College: Murray State University

Focus Area: Spanish Language and Culture

Question: Why did you want to attend GSP?

Answer: My choice to attend GSP was due to several factors. First, I was excited to grow academically with other scholars in an exceptional program. I was also intrigued by the independence GSP provided. I learned to do many things myself, one of which was my own laundry! Although these reasons excited me, my biggest motivation to go to GSP came from the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

Question: Describe your GSP experience. Why did you pick your focus area?

Answer: My GSP experience was incredible. I learned valuable lessons about myself as well as educationally. Interestingly enough, Spanish [was] not my first or second choice as my focus area. Honestly, the only reason I put it as my third was the possibility of dining on Mexican cuisine. Looking back, I cannot imagine anything else. I am so pleased with the way it turned out.

Question: What did you learn from the experience?

Answer: Aside from the educational aspect of GSP, I learned a lot about myself and the type of person I aspire to be. GSP is a clean slate. You can be whoever you wish without the pressure of someone else beating on you. This allowed great insight into myself.

Question: What was the best part of GSP?

Answer: As cliché as it sounds, my favorite part of GSP was making friends with anyone who crossed my path. There was no hierarchy at GSP, all equally positioned, always looking for a new friend!