Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2014-06-12

The 27th annual Alabama Governor's School for rising high school seniors will open at Samford University Sunday, June 15.  The 91 participants in this year's two-week honors program for academically gifted students represent schools in 24 Alabama counties.

Robert R. Record, a family physician and founder and chief executive officer of Christ Health Center in the Woodlawn area of Birmingham, will speak at the opening ceremony on Sunday at 2:45 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall.

AGS participants will spend part of a day working at a service project at the Woodlawn clinic and the nearby Dream Center, which also serves those in need.

During AGS, students choose major and minor areas of coursework for morning and afternoon sessions. The 16 course topics include the arts, law, healthcare, research, business, the environment, journalism and other areas. 

Tulane University student Gabriella Runnels, a nationally known activist in the cause of education of girls in developing countries, will speak at an Insights Dinner on Thursday, June 19.

Runnels will tell how the preparation of her "It Only Takes a Girl" video for a college scholarship project encouraged her goal to make a difference for girls around the world. The video, which quickly attracted viewers on YouTube and Facebook, highlights issues of human rights violations suffered by young women internationally.

AGS students will also visit American Village in Montevallo, attend a Birmingham Barons baseball game, and hear presentations related to college admission, adjustment and scholarships.

The closing ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 27.

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 essays.

This year's roster of 91 represents a record number of participants, according to AGS director George Keller. 

"These outstanding students were chosen from a record number of 164 nominations," said Keller, a Samford biology professor who is in his 14th year as AGS director.  His son, George Keller IV, a student at Mountain Brook High School, is one of this year's participants.

AGS founding director Carolyn G. Satterfield is chair of the AGS Council.  More than 2,000 of Alabama's best and brightest high school students have attended AGS since it began at Samford in 1987.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.