Manassas Park School staff and students spoke highly of the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park and of its participants this week during a presentation to the school board and a subsequent informational meeting Wednesday night at Manassas Park High School.
The Governor's School @ Innovation Park, the 19th of its kind in the Commonwealth, opened in the fall of 2010 to juniors and seniors attending high school in Manassas Park, Manassas City and Prince William County.
The Governor's School @ Innovation Park is a half day program for gifted and motivated students who are interested in science and math. The students return to their homes school in the latter part of the day, Manassas Park High School guidance counselor Cindy Watson said.
This year, 81 students attend the school on the George Mason University Campus in Manassas. Manassas Park City Schools is the only school division providing its full contingency of students, Manassas Park High School guidance counselor Cindy Watson told the Manassas Park school board Monday.
"We have five juniors and five seniors attending the governor's school (and) we will have five senjors who will graduate this year, which is just a very wonderful thing for focus students and Manassas Park City Schools," Watson said.
Three of the juniors are actually sophmores at Manassas Park High—last year the program was open to extremely gifted younger students. These students were subjected to the same application standards are their older classmates, Watson said.
Life at the governor's school is a collboaration that involves students working with their peers, working in groups and encountering unfamilar situations, Watson said.
That is why an interview was added to the application process for students last year, taking the place of the narrative recommendation teachers wrote for students, she said.
Interested students are also allowed to visit the governor's school; there two scheduled field trips each year, one in the fall and one in spring, Watson said.
"It's important in order to share this information, that it is not just listed on website and on pieces of paper," she said. "Students can actively participate and see what goes on at the governor's school."
At Wednesday's governor's school information meeting at Manassas Park High, five current governor's school students conducted a 35-minute panel, answering questions from parents and their peers about their studies, experiences while giving suggestions.
"We feel very strongly that the spokes people for this program are the students themselves," Watson said. "Rather than take 30 minutes to talk about the application and what needs to be done in the application ... the most important piece is getting information and gaining insight from students who are in their second year and students who are just beginning."
Students who are just starting out at the school often undergo a transformation during their first semester, Karen Dalfrey, director of the governor's school told the school board Monday.
"During the first semester they certainly do, go through some struggles, but they are suppose to ... that first semester, at many times, it does pose challenges that they have not come across before," Dalfrey said. "They come out of it looking back and saying, in the word they use, 'the governor's school is awesome.'"