The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2023 | JUNE 4 – JULY 22


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week’s focus was on the Short Story. Each day this week we reviewed the elements that make a story good. The 6 traits of effective writing, short story elements-irony, characterization, conflict, theme, symbols and Freytag’s Plot diagram. The weekly assignment was an original short story that demonstrates their knowledge and understanding of the literary elements of fiction.


Senior Composition (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In Composition III, we read and discussed craft essays about writing what you know and writing about place. Students completed exercises to help them compose their own poems about home and family. They also read a collection of modern and contemporary poetry and participated in class discussions about what we read. Two original poems were due at the end of the week, and we began discussion flash fiction on Friday. Seniors who chose to write poetry for their senior projects met with me individually to discuss their work.


Grad English (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In English 002, we read and discussed craft essays regarding writing what you know, using images in poetry, writing about place, and writing about family. We also read an array of contemporary poetry and discussed common craft choices contemporary poets make. Students also composed a critical analysis of a poem of their choice and turned in two original poems of their own at the end of the week.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshman Science (Susan Nunez, Instructor)

Their challenge was to build a structure made of spaghetti noodles and mini-marshmallows. It had to hold the mass of a book for 60 seconds and be the tallest one. They seemed to enjoy this activity and most were successful.


Sophomore Science (Ms. MaryKate Core, Instructor)

This week we discussed the chemical and physical mechanics of volcanic eruptions. We also discussed types of eruptions and fluid behavior as it applies to magma and lava. Then we modeled eruptions with the classic soda and mentos experiment. Students took the experiment a step further and designed different trials to see the effects of temperature on the reaction. They are writing their reports over the weekend.


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 2 was devoted to covering background in science to bring all students toward a accurate understanding and usage of terminology and to explore various research methods. On Thursday we visited the McNeese Animal Behavior Laboratory (Rat Lab) to acquaint students with the facility and procedure that they will follow to collect data for the class experiment, which is an experiment in which we will vary the smell associated with receiving reinforcement (orange scent vs. lavender scent) to determine if that smell cue will lead to a different rate of bar press responses.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

We continued our discussion of a history of mental disorders on Monday, focusing on the transition from “lunacy” to “nervous disorders,” which occurred in the late 1800s. During that time period, neurologists became interested in what they called “nervous disorders,” which would change to the term mental disorders. During that period a young neurologist named Sigmund Freud developed a treatments for nervous disorders, which soon became psychoanalysis.

Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased with their results. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson. For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. I’m afraid that I might have burst the bubbles for many students who no longer want to run off and become Spartans. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta.


Sophomore Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we continued reading A Wrinkle in Time and started looking at how the Dark Thing and the planet of Camazotz are representative of dystopias. We journaled about the book and took a quiz. We also read Ray Bradbury’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” to continue our discussion of dystopia/utopia. In this story, everyone is forced into equality by state mandated “handicaps.” As a class we voted on what impairments we would be assigned based on our intellect, beauty, and strength. The discussion of course was no longer “equal” due to our different roles. This activity really helped the students understand the nuances between dystopia and a perceived utopia.


Senior Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we finished reading and discussing Thomas More’s Utopia. We began the week with a writing assignment on the importance of “roles” and government in More’s Utopia. We also began reading T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” This poem is long and dense so we broke it up by reading a section a day. We completed writing assignments on each section and then used these assignments to begin our discussions. Friday the first section of 1984 was assigned.


Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week began with discussions establishment clause of the 1st Amendment with a special focus placed on primary and secondary education. The class primarily covered 1st Amendment speech rights. Highlighted cases included: Cohen v. California, Synder v. Phelps, Cohen v. California, and Morse v. Frederick among others.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Choir (Ms. Colette Tanner, Instructor)

During this first week, the choir is “voice testing” for vocal placement in sections. We are also learning our “Warm-Up” and “Ear Training” routine and beginning to learn concert repertoire.


Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Student are very excited to get started doing 3D printing. We have some preliminary ground rules to set up, but as soon as that is complete, we should be good to go.


Debate (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week began with a mock debate involving whether entities and actions in video games are “real.” I introduced students to topoi, basic foundations in argumentation, debate resolutions, and started covering the affirmative burdens in policy debate. Students engaged in activities that challenge their use of topoi. Basic foundations in argumentation included discussions and exercises in deductive logic, inductive logic, and casual logic. Additionally, students learned about Aristotle’s criteria for persuasive speaking and the Toulmin model of argumentation. Students were able to identify and create resolutions for fact, value, and policy debates. We ended the week by covering the prima facie burdens for the affirmative in policy debate.


Critical Thinking (Mr. Robert Markstrom, Instructor)

Students were introduced to numerous games sought to challenge different forms of problem solving and logic this week. Additionally, students were given a personality quiz in order to sort them into groups for the rest of the semester. Games available this week: Abalone, Bloodborne (board game), Chess, Exago, Gestures, Hippos and Crocs, the “Name Game,” Pirateer, Score 4, Set, Stratego, Ticket to Ride, Tsuro, and What Were You Thinking.


Musical (Mr. Keith Chamberlain, Instructor)

Auditions began on Monday and stretched into the evening. I am incredibly excited about our new cast. We began rehearsing the music in our production, since there is much of it, on Tuesday and continued that until Friday.


Costume/Make-up Design and Drama (Ms. Jessa Lormand, Instructor)

Costume/Make-up Design: This week we began working on daily diaries, sketching costumes, hair and makeup designs for both productions and began working on Brigadoon costuming.

Drama: We completed a full read through of the play which was very good to hear. We also discussed the show and student’s creative input on the production, began rehearsal and assigned/began varying creative duties that apply to the production.


Publishing (Ms. Christa Bell, Instructor)

During this week, The Thinker staff created the look for this summer’s paper. They also wrote and put together a four-page edition of the paper with essentially a one-day turnaround time. They are working to grasp the idea of media writing, as opposed to essay writing, and the idea of what makes news and how to relate information to an audience.

Weekly Reports – Composition, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshman Composition (Ms. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

This week the students wrote letters of introduction to me and practiced several writing strategies. They also wrote an anecdote which began in medias res. On Friday the students watched the Odyssey and took notes on point of view, character development, and plot structure.


Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week was all about narrative writing. We started the week learning about how to write a narrative and the elements that make up a good narrative. We practiced writing descriptively each day when telling a story. The final assignment of the week was an Anecdotal Biography assignment.


Senior Composition & Grad English (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In both classes, we’ve focused on writing and reading poetry. I introduced students to formal poetry (sonnets and villanelles), and they wrote their own. We also read and discussed Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, confessional poetry, and free verse contemporary poetry.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Sophomore Science (Ms. MaryKate Core, Instructor)

The students began by understanding science as a method for exploring the world, emphasizing creative thinking and formal reporting. In week one, we introduced concepts of data analysis and organizing raw data, analysis, and conclusions in a report.


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During the session, seniors complete courses in science, composition, and humanities and choose one of these areas in which they complete a project. Thus, Science III is oriented around moving students from students to researchers. During the first week of the session, we focused initially on the choice of the senior project. Students who choose a science project must go through all of the steps in the scientific method, which begins with choosing a topic. Some students had ideas about a science project on the first day, all of which were feasible. Students who choose a project in humanities of composition participate in a class study in which they collect data and work as a group on a presentation, so all students have a science experience but not the same science experience.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This session’s topic in psychology is Psychology as Science and Treatment, which emphasizes the field of clinical psychology and the overall view of psychology research. I plan to use a selection of media (movies, TV, literature) to lead students to a critical evaluation of psychology as a science (that follows the scientific method just the same as other sciences) and the training and work of clinical psychologists (as well as other professions that provide mental health care. Each student received a topic related to mental disorders or treatment methods. The assignment is to become an “expert” in the topic so as to be able to present information when that topic is the focus of discussion, to serve as a re source for other students when that topic is the focus of a written assignment, and to write a final paper on the topic.

Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. I also gave them a cheat sheet of sorts that they can use for their cursive handwriting. I do this so that all of my students will be able to read a primary document which may be in cursive in the future. So far, I’m incredibly proud of their work. Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos and Mycenae. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archaeology and art history can help fill in the gaps. The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.


Sophomore Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we did introductions and preliminary discussions of the great ideas so that we may refer back to the ideas while reading and participating in discussions. We took several days to discuss at length the ideas of Utopia and Dystopia. We began a pre-reading discussion of A Wrinkle in Time. We used daily journal assignments as a “jumping-off point” for those students who were more hesitant to participate out loud.


Senior Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we started with introductions and the concept of the Great Ideas. We continued on with in-depth discussions of Utopia and Dystopia. Many of the students were interested in my past employment at Disney World (which I briefly mentioned during the first day introductions) so we spun that into a debate about whether or not Disney World could be considered a utopia or dystopia. This debate really informed our pre-reading discussion of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. We closed out the week with a discussion of the book after the first assigned reading was complete.


Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week I introduced students to basic judicial concepts regarding the Supreme Court and constitutional interpretation. Additionally, we addressed the “free exercise” and “establishment” clauses of the 1st Amendment. I placed special attention on the Court’s recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Commission for Civil Rights. We ended the week evaluating 1st Amendment issues in Louisiana including Cole v. Webster Parish Board and Louisiana Senate Bill 512 (which passed the state legislature in May 2018).

One of the best parts of the program

for me was, for once, it allowed me to be one of the "normal" kids, instead of the "brainiac" nerd. I cherish that gift.

– George A., Alumnus