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Rise to Shine: RVGS Starts Early to Get Ahead

Students from the Blue Ridge Region attending Roanoke Valley Governor's School learn at Patrick Henry High School (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the U.S. Copyright Code).

By Lily Lovette - Eagle Staff Writer

While many Eagles stay on campus all day, a select group of students begin their day bright and early at the Roanoke Valley Governor's School (RVGS).

An option available for students from high schools around the region, RVGS is made for those who excel in mathematics and sciences. RVGS includes students from Franklin County, Bedford County, Botetourt County, Craig County, Roanoke County, Salem City, and Roanoke City. The founder Rick Shelly launched the program in 1985. RVGS was one of the original five Academic Year Governor’s schools in Virginia.

Students from many different high schools including FCHS come together at RVGS. It’s a community where students with similar interests can make connections and bond.

“I decided to apply after my friends who started freshman year convinced me to look into it. They talked about how it was such a great experience working with students from other schools and learning the fundamentals of research,” senior Ben Dye recalled.

Senior Lucas Mann was one of those students to encourage Dye. This is his fourth year at RVGS.

“The friends and faculty are strong and welcoming enough to keep you coming back,” Mann said.

Cynthia Bohland, RVGS biology and biotechnology teacher of 20 years, feels this same connection to her students and coworkers.

“I love working with students who challenge me and want to learn,” Bohland stated.

Some Governor’s School students miss being on the FCHS campus, but they report feeling more connected and in close contact with students and teachers at RVGS.

“I definitely feel like there are some disadvantages to Gov School," Senior Natalie Davis commented. "I don't miss being on FCHS campus but sometimes I feel a little left behind socially."

Eagles attending RVGS travel a long way each morning to get to the Governor’s School campus, whether they catch the bus that leaves at seven in the morning or drive there themselves.

“Transportation was the hardest part of my transition as a Governor's School student,” Dye said.

A major part of the RVGS teaching method is collaboration between students, mirroring what working in the real world will be like (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the U.S. Copyright Code).

Since RVGS primarily focuses on math and science, students complete lots of labs and other hands-on learning activities, one being "Intercession." Beginning in January, many students view this as the best part of Gov School.

Students select topics to research and when they are done they can choose to present them to judges at an event called Project Forum. The winners often advance to the regional science fair, and some projects even get into international fairs.

“These fairs look really good on college applications and everyone works extremely hard to see where their projects will go,” Dye explained.

RVGS gives students many opportunities to pursue what subjects they are interested in and equips them with the skills to reach their goals in the classroom and beyond. It’s demanding, but for a select group of students, the challenges are worth it.

Students interested in applying for Governor's School for the 2023-24 school year should visit Student Services for more information.

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