The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2024 | JUNE 9 – JULY 20

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