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Governor’s School students praise foundation built by KCSD schools

Posted: May 22, 2014 5:26 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2014 5:00 a.m.

By HALEY ATKINSON

C-I (Camden, S.C.) Localife editor

hatkinson@chronicle-independent.com

 

Two former Kershaw County School District (KCSD) students will soon graduate from the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) located in Hartsville. Sheldon Carpenter previously attended Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS) and Mathias Schreiner attended Camden High School (CHS). Carpenter and Schreiner discussed their plans for life after high school graduation and how KCSD schools have helped shape their success thus far.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Carpenter -- "My plans after graduation involve taking a summer job at KershawHealth and attending Boston University on a presidential scholarship this coming fall."

A: Schreiner -- "After graduating from the Governor’s School, I will be spending the summer with my Clemson-graduate brother who lives in Germany. In August, I will be off to Vanderbilt where I will most likely major in neuroscience. My current long-term goal is to work in a field where I specialize on the brain and help people. The most likely route to this end will be through medical school after Vanderbilt."

Q: How has your experience at GSSM been different from your two years in traditional high school?

A: Carpenter -- "Living in a dormitory environment while having a constant rigorous work load was very new to me. Constantly living around other people and having to adapt your living routine to coincide with another took some time, but eventually I got the hang of it."

A: Schreiner -- "The largest difference between GSSM and CHS was definitely the workload. The transition from two or three hours of daily homework to at least six or seven took getting used to. At their core, the schools weren’t terribly dissimilar. Both offered a wealth of great teachers and classes that open doors to students."

Q: How did KCSD schools build an educational foundation that has made you successful?

A: Carpenter -- "The courses here seemed challenging at first, but there were others I had no trouble with at all. Thanks to the honors Biology course I had taken at Lugoff-Elgin under Mrs. Deborah Sullivan, I was able to ace every test in AP Biology and now have taken advanced classes like Vertebrate Biology, Neuroscience and Ornithology with no struggle at all thanks to the foundation provided. Within a three week span, I was able to take Chemistry I with Ms. Carpenter at Lugoff-Elgin and, thanks to her excellent foundation, I was able to take AP Chemistry and make a 5 on the AP test. I didn’t realize before leaving L-E how important a strong educational foundation could be but I'm glad I received one of the best ones in the state."

A: Schreiner -- "Many aspects of my Kershaw County education prepared me for GSSM and college. I had a great foundation with Mrs. Shaylor’s SEAGUL program at Camden Elementary. I was very lucky to have great teachers year after year.

"Perhaps my biggest lesson was that good things come to those who ask. Early school guidance and later CHS guidance counselors plus Dr. Agnes Slayman (former KCSD assistant superintendant) helped me set up the schedules I needed to meet GSSM requirements through arrangements like ‘doubling up’ in biology and mathematics. Camden Elementary, Middle and High schools also helped me appreciate the value of teachers by having helpful, approachable and knowledgeable instructors that helped satisfy and grow my intellectual curiosity.

"It’s also important to keep in mind that GSSM is a South Carolina public high school supported in part by Kershaw County taxpayers that has been home to many Kershaw County students over the years."

Q: Can you describe a typical school day for you at GSSM to give others who may be unfamiliar with the school an idea of what students there do?

A: Carpenter -- "An average day at GSSM consists of me waking up at the latest 8 a.m. (6 a.m. on days when I have tests to begin studying for that morning) and eating breakfast in the cafeteria. At 9 a.m. I head to my first class of the day and go until noon when I break for lunch. Depending on the day, I may or may not have afternoon classes so I either attend my 1 p.m. class or watch some TV for an hour then head to our school’s in house gym at around 2 p.m. every day. After my workout and shower, I head in town with friends to walk around and catch up or even grab some dinner then head back to the dorms by 6 p.m. to begin my homework. I usually work on my homework from 6 until midnight or 1 a.m. then head to bed to repeat the whole cycle!"

A: Schreiner -- "Because GSSM classes don’t meet daily, every day is a little different and it takes a few weeks to get to know the schedule forwards and backwards. My favorite day of the week this semester, Wednesday, goes like this: I wake up between 8:20 and 8:40, exactly 7 and a half or 9 hours from the time I went to sleep in order to benefit from the full recharging effects of full REM cycles. After a very flexible routine that ranges from putting on my favorite jeans and the first shirt I see to full breakfast and room-cleaning, I go down to a physics class taught by a Duke-Ph. D mantled physics master by the name of Doc G. I then go to my senior English class where I get a charge out of adding relevant ideas to discussions on books read a night or two before.

"In the next class, AP Statistics, I take detailed notes including graphs and derivations while asking questions about everything that I don’t fully grasp at first. With the luxury of an hour-long lunch, I generally eat a custom-made sandwich or freshly-cooked pasta with meat with friends in a dining hall filled with 225 vibrant and diverse students from all over South Carolina. Since my Wednesdays generally have a two-hour break, I spend the rest of my time on a mix of homework, naps and meetings.

"At 2, I go to a two-hour Anatomy and Physiology lab where I perform experiments like dissecting sheeps’ brains and testing my muscle reaction times. After anatomy lab, I use an hour before dinner to do homework or go to the local coffee shop with a friend. After dinner, homework crunch time begins. I try to get a head-start on physics homework due on Friday, read the book for macroeconomics the next morning, read the material and watch videos for a physics lab, do computer science homework, and prepare for an Anatomy and Physiology quiz by reading the textbook and listening to recordings of my notes. I take a break from all of this from 10-10:30, a period called ‘happy half’ by going outside with friends or rowing and lifting in the gym. The rest of the night is either used for more work or, occasionally, sleeping."

Q: Please share any other thoughts, ideas, feelings you have about the high school graduation experience that is quickly approaching. Are you excited, scared or uncertain?

A: Carpenter -- "I am very excited to be graduating from high school and to move on to the next chapter in my life, but at the same time I’m a little nervous. This will be the first time I’ve lived outside of South Carolina so I am eager yet scared to see what the great city of Boston and a top tier university has to offer me for the next four years."

A: Schreiner -- "I feel well-prepared for college because of my experiences at the Governor’s School and Camden High School. While there is a certain degree of uncertainty in my mind, I feel ready for any challenge ahead. I wonder at how quickly it all went and who from Camden High will be at GSSM next. I will miss my Camden home and definitely look forward to coming back to South Carolina for the Vandy-USC football games (although this year the game will be in Nashville on September 20)."

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