Although a new school year has barely begun, it is already time for students to look ahead to next summer; this is especially true for high school students who will make up the graduating class of 2014.
Juniors now, they are eligible to compete for places in a number of challenging and up-building summer programs that will enhance their knowledge, prepare them for more advanced course work and even give them academic credits. If selected, they will also get a foretaste of college academics.
Chief among these opportunities is the Governor’s School, a concept promoted by Gov.Thomas Kean in 1983, when two schools, the Governor’s School of the Sciences and the School on Public Issues were initiated. Over the years, additional schools, emphasizing environment, the arts, engineering and technology and performing arts, were set into motion, but, as state budgets waned, were eliminated.
Presently, only two Governor’s Schools are still in operation: the Governor’s School in the Sciences (held at Drew University) and the Governor’s School in Engineering & Technology (at Rutgers University). Watchung Hills Regional High School has sent representatives to the schools since 1985, and this year had three students, all members of the Class of 2013, in the program.
This year, all three Governor’s School attendees were also named National Merit Scholars. This summer, Warren resident Diana Liao was named to the Governor’s School of Engineering & Technology which convened at the Busch Campus of Rutgers University from July 1-27. The participants were exposed to precepts of technology not usually included in the curriculum at the high school level—more likely at the freshman-sophomore engineering school level.
Jessica Xu, Watchung resident, and Katherine Dong of Warren, attended the Governor’s School in the Sciences, held at Drew University, from July 15 to Aug. 4. Students covered a range of scientific topics at the college level, worked in small groups during the three-week program, and heard eminent speakers in the field of science. Most exciting of all: the visit of Dr. Adam Riess, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics last year. Not only did Riess attend the Governor’s School in the Sciences in 1987, but the one-time Warren resident was also a graduate of Watchung Hills. Riess even hinted that the path that took him to Stockholm for the prestigious honor had its beginnings in the Governor’s School.
Previously, Dong was also named to the 2011 summer program at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology in a continuing study of genetics that extended over the academic year at Watchung Hills. Hills’ former science supervisor, Dr. Jeff Charney, was deeply involved in the Institute since its inception, in 1992.
Xu was also a participant in this year’s Chemistry Olympiad. She was one of 20 national finalists (out of 10,000 applicants) named to attend the U.S. Olympic Chemistry Study Camp that was held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in June this past summer.
Although advanced summer study offerings have waned due to financial constraints, opportunities for advanced study still exist. Students who are interested in taking advantage of such offerings must start the application process now.