Governor's School for Arts and Humanities offers impressive record

Special to the Packet and GazetteSeptember 17, 2013 

The South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities celebrated its 13th commencement this spring and announced that the 109 graduates received $26,346,000 in scholarship and financial aid offers to the best colleges, conservatories and universities in our state and across the country. The total amount of assistance offered to the school's graduates each year has grown significantly since our first class received their diplomas in 2001. The total for the 13 classes of young artists now has reached $187.7 million.

This impressive sum demonstrates that the vision of the school's founders has become a successful reality and the support of our state's legislators and governors has not been misplaced. Each year more than 80 recruiters visit the campus to encourage our students to consider their institutions of higher education. In response, traditionally 100 percent of the school's graduates attend college or universities or are invited to join prestigious professional dance companies or U.S. military bands.

Governor's School students' individual and collective success fuels the desire for colleges and universities to enroll them. Senior students receive national recognition for their achievements. Each year our young writers compete against thousands of students from every state in national writing contests and consistently win the top prizes. From a pool of all the country's high school seniors, 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts are selected each year, and our small school consistently produces one or two of the representatives for this elite group.

Although talent is the deciding factor in admission to the Governor's School, the collective SAT score for our students consistently ranks this school third in the state, outranked only by the two schools that require high academics to enter. With students in each art area achieving regional and national artistic and academic recognition, it's easy to understand why the scholarship and financial aid totals continue to soar.

The opportunity for the graduates to select the best places for their advanced education is producing tremendous results. Alumni of the school's early years have completed their college education and are beginning to make an impact in their professions and communities. In South Carolina, we proudly claim music and visual art teachers, band directors, dancers, community theater directors, church musicians, photographers and interior designers as "Govie" grads. Other alumni offer volunteer support for arts organizations throughout South Carolina but have focused their careers in a different direction. A quick sampling of some of these career choices includes: vice president of a nonprofit organization, lawyer, small business owner, banker, certified care technician, development director and college administrator. All of these Governor's School graduates are helping to improve their communities and our state.

On a national stage, alumni continue to gain recognition for our state through their success. Most recently, millions of viewers watched Patina Miller accept the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and Nicole Beharie offer a wonderful performance as the wife of Jackie Robinson in the major motion picture "42." The television shows "Mad Men," "Orange is the New Black" and "Law and Order" cast our young actors in leading roles. Major dance companies, such as Ballet West and the New York City Ballet, feature our alumni. England welcomed one of our talented viola graduates to its Olympic Orchestra and a leading London dance company signed a recent graduate.

Prominent music programs at Cleveland State University and the State University of New York at Potsdam invited our alumni to become faculty members. Fashion designers, painters and writers are receiving national attention and having their work presented in major showcases or appearing in acclaimed publications. Creative Writing graduates are editors for Politico, The Huffington Post and the Hatchette Book Group, publisher of several of the country's leading authors.

By recognizing the achievements of these students and alumni, I hope the citizens of our state will be proud of the role they have played in the success of these young artists. Without the consistent support of the state's voters, elected officials and donors, the dreams of these wonderful students would not have been fulfilled. South Carolina is home to exceptionally talented young people and the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities is privileged to offer an educational home where they can flourish. With the start of the 2013 school year, now it's time for applications for 2014 summer and high school programs, and students across the state are invited to apply for the opportunity to study in this extraordinary place.

Bruce Halverson is president of the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities.

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