The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2024 | JUNE 9 – JULY 20

Weekly Reports – 2024 Week One – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshman (First Year) and Sophomore (Second Year) Classes:

Flex Science (Ryan Patin, Instructor)

What is and what is not Science

Monday: Meet & Greet

Tuesday: What is Science? Discussion and differentiation between objective and subjective aspects from a Science perspective.

Wednesday: What is the Scientific Method? An overview of Scientific Methodology and using higher order thinking aspects of how this problem solving process is applied in everyday life.

Thursday/Friday: Digging deeper into the steps of the Scientific Method. Students participated in an in-depth discussion of each step of the Scientific Method and what each step truly means in the real world.

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students answered the question, “What is a Story?” and used those answers to brainstorm and develop their own personal aesthetics. Those aesthetics informed their reading of several works of fiction in order to write their own short stories. We read, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, and The World is Ending Tomorrow by Kimberly Terasaki. Students also did in class writing and brainstormed their short story assignment.

Monday- students did icebreakers and got to know each other before we all set goals for what we wanted to achieve this summer. After setting our goals we did a spontaneous writing sprint where they had to impress me with their writing.

Tuesday- Students learned the basics of fiction writing, especially the Short Story. As a class we answered, “What is a story?” then we read The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez and used their definition to decide if we considered this a story as well as commenting on the craft elements such as theme, metaphor, form, and structure.

Wednesday- Started class with a writing sprint to begin writing their short stories. We also set rules for our creative writing workshop (establishing the environment that we want to embody) for the summer. Then we did in class writing.

Thursday- Read “There will come soft rains” by Ray Bradbury and discussed its craft, his voice and aesthetic. Then we did in class writing.

Friday- Went over the guidelines for grading and deadlines. Then we read “The World is Ending Tomorrow” and did a mini workshop on it. Then in groups of 2 the students shared their ideas for their weekly project with each other. Then we ended with in-class writing.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

On Monday, I sat with the Freshmen and held introductions. I told them of my educational background and what I do during the normal school year. We discussed what grades they were advancing into and where they were from. I discussed with students my plan for the class—a three pronged approach to the large area that is “Humanities”: that we would discuss history (in particular of that of the Mediterranean world), philosophy (heavily focusing on Plato’s Republic), and literature (applying the concepts of “right and wrong” and “justice” to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar). Tuesday, we began with history and started with the different groups that immigrated to Greece, with focus on the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed how the myth of Theseus is now thought of as a metaphor for how Greece overthrew the Minoan civilization through the conflict between Theseus and the Minotaur. Students and I drew parallels to this myth and The Hunger Games series. We explored the topic of the Greek Dark Ages and the earliest writings of Greek Antiquity—those being the surviving epic poems of Homer. (We also discussed the real life Troy and how archaeology has found burnt ruins and rubble in modern day Turkey, which correlated with the area that was thought to be Troy.) Students then were assigned to investigate the idea of foundational myths and summarize it and share it with everyone else on Wednesday. For rest of the week, we continued looking into foundational myths of the various city-states of Greece and how these myths influenced their various outlooks on governance and took a crash course through the overall concept of Greek mythology, as it will be referenced more than once throughout various points in history, philosophy, and literature.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as an introduction to utopias and dystopias.  Concepts included power and social structures (top-down versus bottom-up organization), censorship, happiness, developing meaningful relationships, communication, access to information, personal expression, the role of technology in our lives, and government oppression.  We read through part 1 of Fahrenheit 451 (50th-anniversary edition).

Monday – we went over the syllabus.  Students learned about how Thomas More’s book transformed the word utopia.  Utopia used to mean “no place” and eutopia meant an idyllic or perfect place.  More intentionally changed the term eutopia to mean utopia.  We discussed how this meant that creating a utopia would be difficult.  We defined dystopia and we discussed whether our current society is a dystopia or utopia.  The students agreed it was a mixture of both but leaned more towards dystopia and shared their reasons for that answer.  To highlight critical thinking, I provided students with information from Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now regarding how much society has progressed since the Enlightenment.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 3-24 of Fahrenheit 451.  We discussed censorship, happiness, the effect book banning had on that society, the role technology plays in that society, reasons why that society is a dystopia, meaningfulness in communication, government regulation of people’s activities, pressure to conform to society, and ways in which our society is like and different from the society in the book.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 24-46 of Fahrenheit 451.  I played the song “Fake Happy” by Paramore and asked them to apply it to a character in the novel.  Discussion topics included how it’s important for people to recognize (or “see”) us, why it’s important for society to value the lives of children, how technology can isolate us from others, the importance of meaningful communication in order to build relationships with others, authoritative government structures, literary motifs like foreshadowing, and post-trauma responses.

Thursday – We discussed pages 47-68 of Fahrenheit 451.  The class discussion focused on how societies that limit thinking and promote immediate satisfaction can impart short attention spans (several students related TikTok and other social media platforms to the society in the novel); how constant stimulation can make it difficult to think and communicate with others; that oppressive societies will force uniformity and equality, will attack intelligent people, and will attack people that are seen as different or that refuse to conform; that authoritative government systems will suppress freedom of expression, freedom of speech, access to information, and access to communication; parasocial relationships and how societies will sometimes use technology as a means to supplant person-to-person interactions; and how do we determine happiness.

Friday –Students worked on the first assignment for the Utopia Project.  The assignment was Utopia Project:  Describing Your Utopia.  This requires the students to think about the size of the population, territory, social structures, inclusions of family, use of technology, and access to concepts like religion within their utopia.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

We spent most of the first week of Scientific Reasoning introducing the concepts that we will be discussing all summer. We talked about the scientific method in general (I gave them a pre-test on certain topics, and this was one of them), a general definition of science, and why it is so important to be a critical consumer of science – especially the scientific results that eventually make their ay into the mass media. We talked about what their assignments will be – they have two outside of class assignments, one paper for the end of class, and daily, to make at least three observations about the world around them and to record them in some sort of journal or method of their choosing. Their long term assignment (and what will be their senior project if they choose so) is to pick a chapter out of the following books and write a short paper on that chapter – summarizing and explaining it well enough for the rest of the class to benefit from their study. The three books are: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson The Prism and the Pendulum: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science by Robert Crease The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg by Robert Crease The main text we will be using is Understanding Scientific Reasoning by Ronald Giere, et al.

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Seniors are required to produce a piece of creative writing every week. Before writing, students answered the question, “What is a Story?” and used those answers to critique other works in order to help students indirectly think about their own writing for their portfolios. On top of in class writing we read the following craft essays: Perfectionism by Anne Lamott, Beginnings by Anne Hood, and Endings by Elissa Schappell. We read Thrush, a poem by Gabrielle Grace Hogan, The World is Ending Tomorrow, a short story by Kimberly Terasaki, and The Weatherman’s Heart, a flash fiction piece by Tessa Yang.

Monday- students did icebreakers and got to know each other before we all set goals for what we wanted to achieve this summer. After setting our goals we did a spontaneous writing sprint where they had to impress me with their writing.

Tuesday- Students learned the basics of fiction writing, especially the Short Story. As a class we answered, “What is a story?” then we read The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez and used their definition to decide if we considered this a story as well as commenting on the craft elements such as theme, metaphor, form, and structure.

Wednesday- Started class with a writing sprint to begin writing their short stories. We also set rules for our creative writing workshop (establishing the environment that we want to embody) for the summer. Then we did in class writing.

Thursday- Read “There will come soft rains” by Ray Bradbury and discussed its craft, his voice and aesthetic. Then we did in class writing.

Friday- Went over the guidelines for grading and deadlines. Then we read “The World is Ending Tomorrow” and did a mini workshop on it. Then in groups of 2 the students shared their ideas for their weekly project with each other. Then we ended with in-class writing.

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as an introduction to power and government, as these themes coincide with the subject “man and the state.”  Concepts included power, division of power within governments, where governments get their power, use of government power with a focus on oppression, censorship, control of information, public goods and the distribution of public goods, and loneliness.  We read halfway through Part 2 of 1984.

Monday – we went over the syllabus. Students learned why we have government by examining anarchy, the social contract, and the use of force through Locke and Hobbes.   We discussed public goods with a focus on the government being responsible for providing public goods.  We defined government and explained sources of power in government with a focus on government types (autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy).  We examined limited power governments (constitutional governments, separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism) and compared them to governments that have little to no limits on their power (authoritarian governments and totalitarian governments).

Tuesday – We discussed pages 1-48 of 1984.  We discussed censorship, surveillance, public goods, happiness, meaningfulness in communication, government regulation of people’s activities and thoughts, and ways in which our society is like and different from the society in the book.  The students were fascinated by the two minutes hate and the watchful eyes of Big Brother posters.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 49-81 of 1984.  There was a strong focus on public goods and the lack of quality provided to the people in the book.  Propaganda was a central discussion, especially in relation to the lack of public goods versus the state’s propaganda regard production.  We discussed the extreme lengths of the government to use power as a tool of oppression by making thoughts and facial reactions crime.  Students were very interested in Syme, an intelligent character, and were worried that he would be “vaporized” by the government.  The students were particularly interested in the following statements by Orwell: “the past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth,” “in the end the party would announce that 2 and 2 were 5 and you would have to believe it,” and “the party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.  It was their final most essential command.”  The students were surprised to find out that Orwell did not come up with 2+2=5 but repurposed the concept from Soviet Union Propaganda for their 5-year plans.

Thursday – We discussed pages 82-117 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on how the government prevented a person from developing their ownlife.  The students recognized that in order for the totalitarian state to have full control there could only be allegiance to the government.  The students also noted how the society had become numb to violence.  They learned about the proletariat aka “proles.”  We discussed the importance of language, especially due to Orwell’s inclusion of newspeak, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.

Friday – We discussed pages 118-156 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on how the government prevented a person from developing relationships with other people as a means of control.  We discussed loneliness and the importance of human connection.  The students understood that Julia wearing makeup was a political act, as well as noting that most of the acts within this section were both personal and political.  Again, we explored the theme of oppression within totalitarian governments.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

To be updated.

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GPGC gave me a sense of community,


a place where being smart was acceptable, where bullying was not the norm, and where creativity was welcomed.


– Cashman P., Alumnus