Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Beginning Friday, July 3, West Virginia's brightest rising high school seniors will attend the Governor's Honors Academy at Fairmont State. For three weeks, they will study in a challenging and culturally diverse environment.

Designed to stimulate and support academic excellence in education through an intensive, residential summer program, the GHA is offered without cost to 165 of the state's top achieving rising seniors in high school.

Two students from each county plus additional students from a statewide pool are selected to attend the Academy. The purpose is to recognize, encourage and reward outstanding young people whose academic and/or arts work demonstrates excellence.

Dr. J. Robert J. Baker, FSU Professor of English, will serve a three-year term as Dean beginning this summer. Fairmont State will host the Academy for each of the three years.

"We hope to inspire the GHA students to continue their outstanding achievements because they are, in a significant way, the future of West Virginia," Baker said.

Faculty members selected from public and private secondary schools and colleges will provide the leadership in integrating subject matter in the sciences, humanities and arts.

"We are delighted with the selection of courses for this summer's GHA," Baker said. "These courses will excite the students attending GHA and will assist them in expanding their intellectual horizons. The faculty who will be teaching the courses represent a strong cross-section of college professors and secondary school teachers whose teaching is truly exemplary."

The following will serve as GHA faculty members:

* Molly Bassett, a doctoral candidate at the University of California Santa Barbara, will teach about religion in Appalachia. Her second course is titled "Crucifixion and Reincarnation, etc.: The 15 Most Fascinating Topics in Religious Studies."

* Joseph Boutwell, chairman of the science department at Philip Barbour High School, returns for his eighth year with the GHA to teach students about the fundamentals of energy through a variety of hands-on experiences with a special emphasis on waves.

* Roger M. Burr, who has taught language and science in Carpinteria, Calif., will encourage his students to look critically at comic books and the mad genius of architect/inventor/warrior/poet, Fillippo Brunelleschi.

* Yumiko Esail, who comes from Toluca, Calif., offers students the benefits of learning Japanese language and culture from a native speaker of Japanese.

* Coming from Cary Academy in Cary, N.C., Robin Follet will draw on the students' backgrounds in a class called "Writing West Virginia"; in her other class the topic will be the use of food imagery in verse.

* East Fairmont High School Spanish teacher, Xavier Garcia, will enrich the students' understanding of language by teaching Esperanto, a language developed in 1887 as a world language; he will also teach a course in the theater of the absurd.

* Dan Hollis teaches communication classes at Marshall University. He will challenge students to recognize the impact of media on their lives as well as look closely at issues involving the First Amendment.

* Pamela Davey Huggins, an assistant professor of biology at FSU, will teach courses on the environment and on genetics and social issues, including stem cells and cloning.

* Nadia Kochkareva, a visiting instructor from Russia, will provide students with an in-depth look at a country that was almost a "forbidden" area to them and teach an introduction to Russian language and culture.

* Nancy Lassiter, an adjunct professor of economics at FSU, will help students break through the clouds of misunderstanding about financing, the stock market and other facets of the "dismal science."

* For more than 10 years, Tim McCartney, a math teacher at Parkersburg South High School, has taught at the GHA. He returns to dispel some math and science phobias with "Mathematics and Me: Yeah Right" and "Dealing with Data"

* Expect noise from Adam Mason's classes. This teacher, who is the Director of Percussion at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, will introduce students to African and Japanese drumming and culture.

* Emily Ritchey, an adjunct art professor from Marshall University, will draw out the students' artistic talents as they look at and interpret the natural world and make their own book.

* Nicole Sheets, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer to Moldova and currently teaches English courses at WVU, will lead students through writing projects on travel and place.

* John Shirley, from Baldwin College in Va., will help students create and perform a 10- to 20-minute parody of a Shakespearean play; his students will also create portfolio of original pieces.

For more information, call Dr. J. Robert Baker at (304) 367-4260.