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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Highlands Students Find Community in Summer Programs

Highlands student Libby Birkley discusses her experiences in the Governor's School for the Arts.
by Robin Gee

Two special summer programs offer students the opportunity to learn more and work with other students who share their passions and interests. Aimed at encouraging students to explore ideas in depth, both programs also help students build networks that can help them as they pursue further education and careers.

Fort Thomas School Board members learned more about the students’ experiences last summer at the October board meeting.

Governor’s School for the Arts

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Highlands High School student Libby Birkley joined other high school artists from all over the state at the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) program hosted by the Kentucky Center. The program is free to student participants.

Each spring, 1,700 Kentucky sophomores and juniors audition for one of only 256 spots in the three-week summer program. Students study at the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where the students "live, breathe, eat and sleep the arts," according to program literature.

Students are accepted into one of nine disciplines including both creative and performing arts. Faculty include arts educators and professional artists.

The program continues beyond the summer experience. GSA alumni participate in a College and Career Day In Louisville with representatives from 80 national colleges and are eligible for 26 special scholarships. Students also are eligible to apply for support from the Toyota Alumni Fund.

"I had a great time. I met so many people," said Birkley. "I learned how to collaborate with people better, and we created a network of artists that I can use later. I found I can have a career as an artist."

Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs

Highlands student Will Richards describes his project for the Governor's School for Entrepreneurs.

This summer Highlands High School student Will Richards attended the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) program at Transylvania University in Lexington. Only sixty students from across the state earn a spot in the program out of about 500 applicants.

Richards already had plans to pursue a career in music at the University of Louisville. He said he didn’t expect to get into the program and was pleasantly surprised when he learned he’d been accepted. He found it a valuable experience that will help him in any pursuit.

Teamwork is key throughout the experience. Students work in teams to create a business model for a product or service. They also participate in a challenge ropes course that builds confidence and encourages cooperation.

As students work on their projects, they develop skills in collaboration, design thinking, lean methodology and others business practices that can lead to entrepreneurial success. The students have opportunities to learn from successful entrepreneurs who serve as mentors and guest speakers.

The three-week intensive exercise culminates in what has become known as Demo Day. On that day, students pitch their ideas live to a panel of investors.

The program is free and open to freshman, sophomores and juniors. Participants can earn high school credit and are eligible for several scholarships aimed at GSE alumni.

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