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Halifax County school board to consider rejoining Governor’s School

SoVaNow.com / November 07, 2013
School trustees on Monday evening heard Patrizia Humphrey, director of the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia in Keysville, outline activities and costs of participation in the special regional school which attracts students from ten different school divisions.

Humphrey, who has been with the school for the past ten years, told school board members that she has seen enrollment in the school grow to the current 186 members and she described the different paths that students may take in a two year career there. Students who enter the program must be in their junior year of high school and they select their topic of interest and work on the source evaluation and research design of their selection, planning the scientific methodology they will use. Finally they make a public presentation of their research project. Coming back for their senior year at Governor’s School they carry out their scientific investigation and research and do an analysis of their original data before making a public presentation of their research findings.

Students may focus on the humanities for which tuition is $4,651.84 per year or they may chose to enroll in the STEM program for which the tuition is only $1,839.50. A third option is expected to be available next year with the Health Science Academy in which one local student has already indicated an interest in pursuing. Humphrey said she believes tuition for that program will run around $2,200. Students who complete the programs receive associates degrees and most colleges give students credit for those classes, Humphrey said.

With school trustees worried about budget issues for the coming year, they wanted to hear from the school director to see if she could offer any help with funding. Humphrey told trustees that this year she is giving back some $480,000 to the localities which are participating in the program this year. That may not always happen, she said, but she works hard to help with funding whenever she can.

ED-1 Trustee Phyllis Smith questioned her about the value of the special school as compared to the dual enrollment classes offered at the high school. Humphrey responded that the high school does a good job in offering so many dual enrollment classes, but noted that Governor’s School benefits students by its college type campus and its ability to allow students to work together. “They learn from each other and have the chance to see a different type of climate,” Humphrey said, noting that students learn in many different ways.

Local trustees indicated they will decide at their upcoming November session whether they feel they can afford to participate in the program. Halifax County was a regular participant in the program four years ago before being hit by budgetary constraints. Many of the top students from Halifax County High School who participated said upon graduation that they found the school to be the most important part of their education.

Humphrey warned trustees that whatever number of students they might decide to send to the school next year, that the following year the number would have to be doubled in order to allow for the completion of the courses. She also said that students would be tested to determine their eligibility for the program.

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