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Governor’s honors academy and arts school going virtual this summer

MORGANTOWN — Since 1984, the West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy has served as a summer camp for smart kids.

Really, really smart kids.

The top-performing high school students admitted to the camp over the years have delved into DNA and the ramifications of what happens when you try to manipulate it.

They have moved to the physics of Appalachian clog-dancing and unwrapped the ancient embalming techniques that made mummies become, well, mummies.

There have been mock-arguments of actual Supreme Court cases addressing race and racism, and scientific deep-dives figuring out how far a wooden board can bend – before it actually breaks.

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s camp.

However, organizers said, the academy isn’t bending to the will of the coronavirus for the 2021 edition.

Marshall University will host an online academy this summer with a full range of courses built around the intellectual politics and particulars of the pandemic.

A selection of its topics:

How do you thrive in a constantly changing world?

How do you stay in motion when the pandemic has slowed everything to a crawl – metaphorical, and otherwise?

How do you discern the beauty in staying still?

What gives your life meaning?

Applications to the academy, which will admit 175 students across the state, will be accepted through March 12.

Visit for more information and to apply.

There, you’ll also learn more about the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts, which is also taking applications up until that same date.

That’s the gathering is for 120 performance-minded sophomores – budding musicians, writers, actors – who would prefer to trod the boards rather than break them.

It was founded in 1994 and was also postponed last year, over concerns of the pandemic.

Classes for the honors academy and school for the arts will be a mix of hands-on and seminar-styled offerings.

The virtual delivery system doesn’t mean a virtual yawn, organizers said.

That’s because the current generation of high school learners are more that comfortable in digital neighborhoods in general.

“Do you think it can’t be done?” planners of the academy and arts school asked in a release.

“If so, you must not have grown up with ‘Bill Nye, the Science Guy,’ or watched a how-to video on YouTube.”

WVU hosted both for years, and Keith Garbutt, the former botany professor here who helped lead the academy, called it a “total immersion in the learning environment” – making it all but impossible to not receive intellectual growth.

“Everyone learns, especially the instructors,” he told The Dominion Post previously.

“We explore new things too. That’s the beauty of it.”

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