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Angel Nugroho: First days at Governor’s School-A hurricane and a clear sky

The first week of Governor’s School is simultaneously a hurricane and a clear sky. I quickly became tangled in trying to find my classes, meet new people, and settle into dorm life. But no stressful atmosphere exists here. There are no grades or GPAs to worry over. Instead of test scores, every person here focuses deeply on their subject and on learning in general. Constantly interacting with these passionate people contributes to the Governor’s School identity.

A few new friends studying social science will be conducting their own research on whatever topic they choose, including the South China Sea disputes, media in society, and spies. One of the social science students intensely loves researching and often contacts museums and universities for access to primary sources. Here, the freedom from curriculum fosters a new drive to learn and keep learning.

My own Area 1, or primary area of study, is English. Our poetry also follows this trend of passion. Though I never wrote my own poetry before, the self-reflection it provides astounds me. Chuck Sullivan, our instructor, explained how poetry takes words and themes that are used a thousand times over, but always creates something unique to your own voice. This idea of curating one’s original voice defines my Governor’s School goal.

Aside from Area 1, there are almost too many ways to learn more about current issues, gain a new trade, or just relax with a interesting hobby. In just the first week, I learned how to play Euchre, discussed race and housing policies in the US, started swing dancing classes, and began knitting a scarf. I should point out that I have never knitted before in my life, and my dancing experience stops at elementary ballet. Governor’s School drives discovery at every turn, something that nobody wants to miss out on. The first swing dancing class attracted more than 100 students, and many lecture events do not have enough seats.

Angel Nugtoho learns to knit.

The students also possess an inordinate amount of skills and interests. One friend started to learn Arabic and another Korean, although both already know several languages like French, Mandarin, Indonesian, and Japanese. Others hone in natural talents, performing at an open mic event, which included singing, poetry reading, and soon, some stand up comedy. The sheer density of intellect and ability at GSE stimulates even more growth and curiosity.

I love being able to cultivate interdisciplinary learning, like putting philosophy thinking into crime and culpability discussion. Or feeling very moved by a certain movie, or speaker, or book, and being able to discuss it with people who may know nothing about it, but genuinely want to hear more. One event in particular inspired deep reflection: Soundspace. Instrumental music students composed their own group piece for certain locations around our Meredith campus, all in three days.

A group of students at GSE 2017.

The group in Johnson Hall had creatively placed their musicians on multiple floors of the atrium, so the sounds echoed across the room, making eight instruments feel like fifty. The audience could also move around the space and walk up the floors in Johnson hall, so every spot in the atrium produced a different piece. Standing on the bottom floor generated a light flute melody, while standing on the top floor created a flute concerto. I thought this made quite the metaphor for Governor’s School. Although everyone gets the same opportunities, each student will have an entirely unique adventure.

Angel Nugroho

Angel Nugroho is a rising senior from Providence High School in Charlotte, NC, where she plays clarinet and competes on the golf team. She is a student at Governor’s School East studying English.