Governor’s School is coming to a close. As the 2017 session ends, I start to reflect on everything I have done here. I remember from the first day, how time felt so strange here, like a bubble to the outside world. The Social Science kids call it a liminal space — a place where reality feels slightly altered. So I imagine that returning home from Governor’s School is going to be like falling into ice-cold water — a biting shock. So I am doing what any reasonable GS student does in these last few days, which is making the most of it.
Through the last week and half, each subject will present projects as a culmination of his or her work here. One Natural Science presentation looked at how harshly subjects graded the same paper if it was written by a girl versus a guy, or if they graded using a red versus a purple pen. The group found a significant positive correlation between harsher grading and the girl’s paper and another significant positive correlation between harsher grading and the red pen. This experiment and others forced students to look closer at difficult social issues.
And with social issues, all roads lead to Social Science, hitting subjects like cultural appropriation, toxic masculinity, and school segregation. Two groups that stood out to me in presentations were privatized prisons and US recidivism rates. As private prisons become a greater economic benefit, it makes more sense for private prisons to defund programs that help prisoners reenter society to keep their “customers” coming back. The way topics interconnect constitutes an important aspect of the Social Science classes.
So what does Math add to the conversation? It shakes up even the most long-held of perceptions. The last Math group shared its research on how infinite things can be finite. Their example, Gabriel’s Horn, is an object that goes on forever, but still has a finite volume, a concept proved by integration. Students often initially learn infinity as this incomprehensible and unending idea, when it can actually be definite.
Presentations proved to be stressful for a lot of students. So Monday afternoon, the Pet Therapy elective arrived on campus. Five dogs hung out with students on the Quad, showing off tricks and letting students get their pets in. My roommate, who has a dog back home, excitedly took multiple pictures of each extremely cute dog. My whole friend group now follows Herbie the Therapy Dog on Instagram. The pure fun, seemingly random electives will stick with me the most after Governor’s School.
Speaking of pure fun, the last Saturday of Governor’s School ended with the Masquerade Dance. Many donned masquerade masks, prom dresses, and even all-out costumes to dance at the Science and Math building. Strobe lights and DJ included, we danced the night away (up to the 11 pm curfew that is). Now, I am not one for dances, not even attending prom back home, but I can safely say this was one of the best nights of my life.
And Governor’s School is the best summer I ever had. Although affectionately called “nerd camp,” the experience goes far beyond the classroom. The people you meet, the conversations you have, and every time you go out on the Quad all makes Governor’s School perfect. On the first day, Director Laura Sam talked about how we would come back home changed people. This is true for me, but Governor’s School changed me into the person I was always meant to be.