Forty-two high-school juniors and seniors thanked the School Board for sending them to summer school at a Tuesday, Nov. 14, meeting.
The students participated in a Governor’s School for either one of six foreign languages including German, Japanese and Spanish, or a number of subjects, like Agriculture, Arts, Humanities, Science and Medicine, and Math, Science and Technology.
Governor’s School is an intensive four-week program for gifted students across Virginia. Seven Loudoun County Public Schools were represented there.
THE PARTICIPANTS each got a few minutes at the podium to thank School Board members for the educational, and unforgettable, experience.
Kyle O’Donnell said his four weeks at Virginia Commonwealth University were the best four weeks of his life.
The Dominion High School student said he was nervous to attend the Governor’s School for German.
"I never spoke German outside of the classroom," he said.
O’Donnell wasn’t allowed to speak English while he attended school, there. The high-school student spoke German inside and outside of the classroom.
"The first two days were a struggle," he said, "but everybody was in the same boat. By the middle of the week, I got the hang of it. I wanted to speak in German."
O’Donnell said the four weeks at the school went by fast, but he won’t forget his experience or the friends he made there.
"I made some friends for life," he said.
Governor’s School was Tasia Paaraskevopoulos’ first chance to speak German outside of the classroom.
The Park View High School student said she felt insecure to speak in German at first, but soon realized she had no choice. She asked questions and carried on daily conversations with counselors, her roommate and new friends, in German, everyday.
"The immersion environment is the best way to learn," she said. "It helped me become more comfortable with the language."
She said she now shares a bond with other Governor’s School students.
"We all made it through together," she said. "It was such an amazing experience. I learned so much in a short amount of time."
GOVERNOR’S SCHOOL is held during the summer at several colleges and universities throughout Virginia, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Phillip Roberts went to the Governor’s School for Arts to study piano, but he said he learned so much more about himself.
"It opened my eyes to college life and social life," he said.
The Dominion High School student shared a small room with another student for four weeks.
"I really got a taste of what college life is going to be like," he said.
Fellow classmate Michael Boyer said he enjoyed talking to students from different schools around the state.
Boyer attended the Governor’s School for Arts to fine tune his guitar skills, but he got a lesson in so much more.
"I participated in many discussions about race, religion and different ways of life," he said. "Governor’s School changed my viewpoint on the world."
School Board member Thomas Reed (At Large) was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.
"They sacrificed their summers," Reed said. "They did a lot of work."
TENTH- AND 11th-grade students are eligible to apply for the program through the school system. For more information, contact Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson, Wayde Byard at email@example.com.