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HIGHER LEARNING | District's students secure four Governor's School slots

SILER CITY — Bella Ocampo — immigration lawyer.Bella Ocampo

Well, not yet.

But someday ...

“It’s something that’s very personal to me,” Ocampo said.

The Chatham School of Science and Engineering junior aims to make inroads toward that career during Governor’s School of North Carolina, a five-and-a-half week summer residential program for the state’s intellectually gifted high school students. It’s both the first and oldest program of its kind in the nation.

Northwood High School junior Ava Sorgman and Jordan-Matthews High School juniors Lindley Andrew and Harrison Brewer join Ocampo in the 2019 Chatham County Schools (CCS) cohort for Governor’s School. From June 16 to July 24, they’ll be among 670 of the state’s juniors and seniors exploring cutting-edge concepts in academic disciplines and in the arts.

It’s a big deal.

“This is fantastic news and more students than we have had for several years,” said Susan Southern, the lead teacher for advanced learners in CCS.

Governor’s School has two sites: Sorgman and Ocampo will live and learn at Meredith College in Raleigh. Andrew and Brewer will settle in at Salem College in Winston-Salem. They and their Governor's School peers were nominated by superintendents of their school systems or directors of their charter schools and private schools. Nominations were open to rising seniors withHarrison Brewer  exceptions for rising juniors in selected areas of the performing arts. Each student was nominated in one of 10 specialization areas: English, foreign language (French or Spanish), mathematics, natural science, social science, visual art, choral music, instrumental music, theater and dance.

Lindley Andrew Andrew believes her penchant for foreign language will take her places.

“What I’m looking forward to most about going to Governor’s School is the opportunity to practice and improve my Spanish language skills,” Andrew said.

Math’s the thing for Sorgman.

“I wanted to apply to Governor's School because I felt like it would help prepare me for college,” Sorgman said.

It’s back to the lab for Brewer.

“I anticipate this program will benefit me by exposing me to new ideas, Ava Sorgman  challenges and practices that constitute the natural sciences and develop a keener understanding of the methodologies that accompany them,” he said.

Ocampo, the budding lawyer, said, “Governor's School will benefit me because it will challenge me to think outside of the box.”

Nearly 1,700 students were nominated for this 57th installment of Governor’s School, putting the quartet from CCS in elite company. They won’t take any tests or otherwise receive formal grades or credit for what they do during Governor’s School, where the faculty will include distinguished teachers and professionals from public and private schools, colleges and universities across the country. No, at Governor’s School, students cash in theoretical currency for practical application.

The exchange rate is rather high, Davidson College freshman Keelan Bailey said.

A 2018 Jordan-Matthews graduate, Bailey, from Siler City, said his college workload is no joke.

“I read a lot more,” he said. “Write a lot more.”

Keelan Bailey (center) is all smiles during the 2018 commencement ceremony at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, N.C.

The classroom interactions in college are more intense, the discussions heavier, yet, Bailey said, he’d already been there and done that sort of thing — back in 2017 at Governor’s School.

“[Governor’s] School taught me how to think intuitively and creatively, but not be arrogant about it,” Bailey said.

In other words, kids from all over North Carolina descend on Governor’s School with all manner of ideas and ideals, and some conversation pieces that might go unchecked in, say, Siler City could get questioned during those elite summer sessions, Bailey explained. So it behooves everyone to disagree agreeably and to understand that his or her opinion is just that, he said.

Ultimately, students get out of Governor’s School what they put into it, the instructors there to facilitate the learning, “and that just correlates to college,” Bailey said.

Published March 16, 2019