Applying for Governor’s School

As I’ve mentioned before, I often shared my poetry writing with the school guidance counselor. She was the one who encouraged me to another step in developing my skills.

She was the one who would hang posters on the wall of the cafeteria of scholarship contests and other scholarly opportunities. I first heard about the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities by spotting a poster in the cafeteria. The Governor’s School was offering a 5-week program in the summer for various visual and performance arts, music and creative writing. The poster included details about a one-day workshop at a local community college to offer a chance to work on poetry and learn more about the summer program. Even though I was attending a high school in Georgia, I remained eligible to apply because I still lived in South Carolina.

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Mr. Kremin assigns 10th grade autobiography

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A treasured note I received from Mr. Kremin.

Tenth grade meant taking a religion class with Mr. Kremin. I remember him standing at attention in front of the crucifix (in the way only a former member of the military can) to lead us in prayer at the start of class. He faced forward with his back to us; his reverence was an example for the rest of us.

Kremin’s class was amazing because he gave us one of our first tests of being treated as adults. When you walked in the room, you were met with an air of respect. You had to decide how to respond to it. It was the first time that respect in the classroom really seemed palpable: You walk in and you matter. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s one of those intangible things that really resonated with me.

He was a natural teacher and storyteller. What he shared was captivating, maybe because it seemed to be more than going through a lesson. He wanted to communicate more than just the material but to truly reach you, to challenge preconceived notions.

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Conversation hijackers and other communication problems

So, previously on the blog I’ve described some of the internal struggle with communication, the spinning Rolodex in search of information, in search of something worthwhile to share.

But there are other external factors that impact communication.

Perhaps I’m over-analyzing a particular encounter I had in high school. Perhaps I’m remembering it wrong. It’s entirely possible. I honestly don’t think those details are the thing to focus on, though, because the feeling I had afterward are what have stayed with me for so long.

I was in the school cafeteria, waiting for the morning bell to ring so that I could go to my locker and get ready for class. And I was talking to another girl. She was describing a concert she had been to over the weekend.

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Only freshman girl to make varsity

For several weeks after school started, we had basketball conditioning. Lots of running. This was mostly student-led by upperclassmen. I believe the state rules indicated the coach couldn’t be involved when basketballs were used. So we could do non-ball-related activities in her presence. Stuff like suicides, wall sitting to work the lower body muscles, getting into defensive stance and shuffling across the court.

We had a small group of girls try out for the team, to the point where I figured everyone would make the team. Nope. Still a few students were cut. We had the bare minimum of people for varsity and junior varsity.

I was the only freshman girl to make varsity, but that doesn’t mean I was ready for that level.

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How this writer got her start

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Teachers are sneaky about finding ways to get students familiar with talking in front of the class.

In kindergarten, first grade and maybe even second grade, it’s disguised as show and tell. You’re bringing in an item from home that you love and talking about it. Early on, teachers emphasize the importance of sharing what you love.

That’s public speaking in its purest form. Eye contact isn’t evaluated as much and neither is the smoothness of your delivery. You’re just sharing to the best of your ability.

So those are good building blocks that progress through each grade level.

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Meet Nutmeg, the sensory sensitive guinea pig

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Nutmeg

Ok, that’s probably a bit of a stretch. But she does have some behavioral characteristics that ring true with some things I deal with. It’s one of the reasons I’m grateful I adopted her; I can understand. And like many pets, she teaches me lots of lessons when I’m receptive to them.

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