An unforgettable month at the Governor’s School for Math, Science, and Technology

Sharing a month of memories, learning, and friendship


Rose Turner

159 HS juniors and seniors were selected from all across the state to attend the Summer Residential Governor's School for Math, Science, and Technology at Lynchburg College

As my dad loaded the last bag into the trunk and my mom waved goodbye from the driveway, I had no idea what I was about to experience for the next month, nor did I have any expectations. For the next three and a half hours, my dad and I would drive down to Lynchburg College so I could, along with 158 other students, finally attend the long awaited Summer Residential Governor’s School for Science, Math, and Technology.

Yes, the road trip was long, but that was the shortest leg of the journey. The entire selective process had taken all the students around a year to complete. It started with the preliminary applications in November to the essay and teacher recommendations in December. Then came several months of waiting for final selections in April and lastly, roommate assignments with various form submissions in June.

The anxiety built as we got closer to Lynchburg. As my dad pulled into the McWane residential hall’s parking lot, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people there. How on Earth was I supposed to live with this many strangers for an entire month?

After unpacking and meeting Rose and Alex, my Residential Advisors, the opening ceremony took place. There, the director of the program, Dr. Steve Smith, and the greatly intimidating yet caring head RA, Ron Coleman, gave the families an overview of Governor’s school and the guidelines that were to be abided by without exceptions. One of the most memorable portions of his speech that day was the oath to our lanyards (which holds name tags, access card, and room keys), the talk about the Magic Sex Line between the boys and girls rooms, and the strict limited usage of phones during the month.

After orientation, all the students and their families were broken up into their registered science or math class. I was enrolled in BodyQuest, the anatomy and physiology class, with 15 other students. My teacher, Professor Kim Geier, gave us a short introduction on the class before our parents left us for the month.

My classmates and I began to socialize with one another and despite the initial awkward and shy hellos, I genuinely felt excited to be at Governor’s school. By the end of the first week, I had found a solid group of close friends and had gotten to know an incredible amount of other intelligent and like-minded students. I had never been surrounded with so many peers that were just as enthusiastic about STEM as I was, and I felt truly at home.

As for BodyQuest, my class would spend the majority of the next month dissecting eight full-term fetal pigs (one for each pair of lab partners). We memorized the major skeletal and muscle components (both human and pig) and embarked on numerous lessons. Although sometimes disgusting, I found that they were always informative. We would also have the chance to dissect chicken wings, cow eyes, visit an actual cadaver lab (by far the craziest scientific experience I have ever experienced), learn about autopsy case studies at the University of Virginia’s hospital, visit a rehabilitation center, dairy lab, and Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery.

Outside of class, Governor’s school was just as riveting. Every day, there were sign ups for various different activities. We could spend our afternoons listening to colloquiums or attend a second chance class offered by the professors. We could also make trips to different sites around Lynchburg such as down-town, pottery painting, bookstores, food shops, and Sharp Top Mountain just to name a few. As larger groups or the entire Governor’s School program itself, we took trips to Smith Mountain Lake, the movie theater, Virginia’s Natural History Museum, and Busch Gardens.

Throughout the week, there would be different activities after dinner such as recreational night, hall night, movie night, game night, college fair, talent show, hall olympics, and dances. The month flew by and before I knew it, Governor’s school was coming to an end.

On the morning of July 29, after most of us had stayed up all night to pack, my friends and I met outside of Shellenberger track for the last time. The air was brisk and the sky was cloudy. The 13 of us, along with other groups of students, watched the sun rise from behind the Lynchburg mountains for one final time. As tears streamed down our faces and the rain beginning to fall, we all exchanged hugs that none of us wanted to let go of.

After seeing our families again and sitting all together at the closing ceremony, we all checked out of McWane and went our separate ways. On the trip back home, I thought about how close and bonded I had become with my new family in such a short amount of time. We sang together, went on morning runs together, experienced AP and SAT score releases at the crack of dawn together, rode numerous roller coasters together, and all got sick together. There is no doubt that we will all see each other again, but the goodbyes were heart wrenching.

Thanks to MST Governor’s School (including all the faculty, staff, and RAs), I was able to be submerged into an unbelievable community of science and math driven students who all have the ability to change their communities. I hope to see you all thrive and amaze the world with your talents. It was truly an honor for me and it was truly the best month of my life.