Alabama Governor’s School (AGS) will open at Samford University Sunday, June 19, when 80 of the state’s top rising high school seniors arrive for the annual two-week honors program for academically gifted students. Participants hail from 23 counties throughout the state.
The opening ceremony at 2:45 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall will feature keynote speaker Dr. Sharon Bell, assistant superintendent, Birmingham City Schools. Her talk will incorporate Oliver Wendell Holmes’ quote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension,” which was the required essay topic for students applying to attend.
During AGS, students choose major and minor areas of coursework. Topics include the arts, law, health, research science, history and a dozen other subjects. Students who are enrolled in a new course, “The Big Questions in Science and Religion,” will consider ways in which scientists reconcile their faith with scientific findings and current issues in faith and science.
A new twist on a long-standing Alabama history course will include visits, through slide presentations and field trips, to historic buildings and sites rich in history and lore.
Afternoon seminars include another perennial offering that studies Euripides’ Greek tragedy “Medea,” in which the title character kills her two young sons. The seminar not only examines the 2,000 year-old play and ethical issues it raises, but illustrates the civilization and heritage of ancient Greece as well as central issues of life in the 21st century.
An Insights dinner on Tuesday, June 28, will feature a talk by banker Donta L. Wilson, North Alabama regional president, BB&T financial institution. He will speak on business and community leadership.
Students will also attend programs on cyber safety and how to apply for college scholarships, attend a Barons baseball game and a lecture/concert by a professional pianist, and visit American Village. They will assist in a service project at Bailey Cemetery in Vincent, where many of the 1,100 graves date to the Civil War era. Their work will help prepare the site for possible inclusion in a national historic registry.
The 2011 AGS session will end with a closing ceremony in Brock Recital Hall at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 1.
AGS participants are nominated by their schools on the basis of academic ability, leadership qualities, creativity and community service. Selection is also based on teacher and guidance counselor recommendations, and written essay.
AGS was founded at Samford in 1987. Similar programs are held in many other states. Samford biology professor Dr. George Keller is AGS director.