Week of April 12, 2016


The Governor's School Foundation is happy to report that Alumni Showcase 2016 was a great success!  More than 50 alumni volunteered to speak to current students about life after high school on Friday, March 25.

Software engineer Mica Swyers ('04) talked about her decision to leave liberal arts academia for a STEM job.  Austin Higgs ('09) discussed switching colleges and finding his way into a meaningful career supporting diversity and equal access at VCU.  Kyle Healy ('03), a producer for The Late Show, brought down the house in the auditorium talking comedy and Colbert.  Kia Jordan ('13), our youngest speaker, was an amazing representative for our recent graduates, poised and already dispensing valuable advice.  We hope that hearing the perspectives of all sorts of different alumni added to current students' sense that life is full of possibility no matter where the road leads!   Thanks to our incredible alumni for giving so much back with such enthusiasm!

This year's speakers also included Chris Fields-Johnson '99, Sarah Jennings '99, Angela Pirko '06, Loren Bushkar '00, Austin Higgs '09, Jennifer (Frankovich) Lovett '99, Sarah Stoneham '02, Henry Scott '07, Rebecca Wright '97, Karen Principe Setzer '99, Emily Muth '00, Mica Swyers '04, Tommy Nicholas '07, Michael Wysong '03, Nakeia Monte '02, Ayanna Jones '01, David Wein '00, Steven Lewis '02, Matt Newman '03, Jamey Stegmaier '99, Kristina Page '96, Kathleen Kostandin '07, Michael Reed '03, Sarah Eckman '03, Lanae Jones Holmes '96, Katie Houston '04, Devon Gray '06, Chris Somerville '99, Victoria Chiou '02, Nathan Conway '06, Sarah Workman, '96, Shelly Thiss '03, Amy Weiss '03, Kristen Lewis '03, Danny Yates '09, Allison Muth '02, Lauren Palmer Scott '05, Maryann James-Daley '00, Kia Jordan '13, Kyle Healy '03, Steve Bryant '95, Charles Martin '99, Alexander Muth '07, Catherine Nicholas '04, Alex Guzmán '07, Tim Wright '96, Giles Harnsberger '01, Alex Wiles '12, Liz White '00, Sarah Beck-Berman '05, Erin Ortiz '06, Jessica Escobedo '96, Mike & Sarah Moore '03, Ellen Nicholas '09, and Emily Thomason '07.

The Foundation sponsored the event. The 2016 Alumni Showcase Committee organized the event in conjunction with the Foundation and included Erin Ortiz '06 (chair), Khiem Tran '06, Amy Weiss '03, Bryce Lyle '99, and Catherine Nicholas '04.

So far this year, the Annual Fund Campaign has raised $205,960 for the school, which is 69% of the goal. Overall current parent participation is 28%, and here is the parent participation by class:

• Seniors:  28%
• Juniors:  35%
• Sophomores:  28%
• Freshmen:  33%

The Governor’s School Foundation’s Annual Fund Campaign supports programs for students, grants for teacher continuing education, special projects for facilities and equipment, and serves as the alumni office.

To donate online, please click here (http://www.governorsschoolfoundation.org/donate/).


Parents, please join us for the final General PTSA meeting for the 2015-2016 school year.  The meeting will be hosted by Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow, a MLWGS parent, as he educates us on the important topic of “Stress and Anxiety Management in Youth.”  The meeting will be held on May 4 from 5:30-7:30 in the Auditorium at Maggie Walker.  There will be prepared remarks and time for Q&A.  This was a very insightful program last year and we specifically scheduled it for the evening time slot to allow for strong parent participation.

Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow is Associate Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at VCU and the Co-Director of the Anxiety Clinic at VCU. He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and his PhD at Temple University in Philadelphia.


MLWGS PTSA is dedicated to solving the chronic underfunding of MLWGS by lobbying the Governor and General Assembly to increase funding and correct inequities in the current state funding formula.

MLWGS PTSA needs new volunteers to join us!

PTSA Advocacy also monitors the Regional School Board which governs MLWGS. This board includes a school board member from each participating school district and is advised by the district superintendents. We need parents to regularly attend MLWGS Regional School Board meetings (3rd Thursday of the month at 9 am). Information including minutes and budgets is on the school website www.mlwgs.com under the tabs “About” and “Regional School Board.”

The state lobbying effort is critical for 2016. The General Assembly has ordered the Virginia Department of Education to review Governor’s School funding by November 2016. MLWGS PTSA will continue to be active with this issue. The MLWGS PTSA will communicate its position to state budget decision makers; inform and rally support from the MLWGS community; and work with the EduPAC Club to coordinate the Legislative Coffee held annually in December and Capitol Day in February where students meet with state legislators.

The current PTSA Advocacy leaders have graduating or alumni children. Advocacy efforts need involvement from current MLWGS parents. Want to learn more? Contact Anne Hayes, annehayes@verizon.net or Laura O'Brien, prable@comcast.net.


Maggie Walker PTSA volunteers have invested several years advocating for more equitable state funding for Governor’s Schools. Those efforts have paid off and are ongoing. After being excluded for years, Governor’s School teachers and staff are now explicitly included when the state provides matching dollars for salary increases. 

Thanks to the Governor and General Assembly, in FY17 and FY18, MLWGS will see a temporary increase in state funding of more than $300,000 a year. However, this is far short of the amount necessary to appropriately fund the school and address its many operational needs.

In December 2015, Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget generously provided $3.9 million in additional funding for Governor’s Schools. Unfortunately, a closer examination of the Governor’s proposal revealed the funding distributions were not equitable for all 19 part-day and full-day Governor’s Schools on a per student, per course basis. The proposed funding formula did not account for the greater needs and costs of full-day Governor’s Schools. Given the longstanding underfunding of MLWGS and other full-day Governor’s Schools resulting in serious budget shortfalls, we raised concerns with the General Assembly about the proposed funding formula.

General Assembly members agreed with us regarding equity. Instead of supporting the Governor’s formula, they put forward a temporary formula that provides a 2.5% increase and extra $50 per course/per student for all Governor’s Schools and ordered a review of the state funding formula based on length of program day. There is hope the upcoming formula review due November 2016 will recognize actual costs of operating these programs and provide an appropriate increase in state funding for all Governor’s Schools. To ensure that happens, we need your help. Please consider volunteering with PTSA Advocacy.


MLWGS is currently undergoing the textbook adoption process for implementation in 2016-2017 for the following courses: Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Human Geography, Advanced Placement Psychology, and Advanced Placement Biology.

MLWGS invites you to provide input on the potential textbooks for one or more of these courses. The public comment period for the textbooks under consideration is open through Thursday, May 19. The textbooks and evaluation forms will be displayed in the MLWGS library during this public comment period.

Please direct any questions that you may have regarding this process to Dr. Wendy Taylor Ellis at wellis@gsgis.k12.va.us.


Mr. Houghton, who teaches Physics, would like help from someone who understands electronics and would be willing to look over his lessons on voltage regulating op amps and the use of capacitors to filter noise. hhoughton@gsgis.k12.va.us.


Congratulations to Panth Doshi (’17, Henrico) for winning the Dean's List Award at the Central Virginia robotics competition before Spring Break! This award celebrates outstanding student leaders whose passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals is exemplary. Wish him luck as he advances to the Chesapeake District Championship on April 8-9, 2016.

Thursday, April 14, 3-5 p.m.
VCU Student Commons Theater, 907 Floyd Ave, First Floor

In the modern world open societies are being confronted by a rising number of incidents of violent terrorism and the spreading radicalization of disenfranchised and disillusioned young people. The challenge is to address these problems in a society founded on principles of democracy and freedom. This symposium is intended to be an open, informative and constructive conversation to push the boundaries of how we think about and respond to terrorism and radicalization in open society. A panel of internationally renowned speakers and guests will present their experiences including:

Pete Simi – embedded fieldworker and author of the book American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate.
Frank Smyth – award-winning investigative reporter and executive director of Global Journalist Security
Scott Sayare – Parisian based American reporter and author of “The Charlie Hebdo I Know”(The Atlantic, January 11, 2015)
John Wyman – Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI and Terrorism Coordinator for the Richmond Joint Terrorism Task Force
Omar Abdullah – Iraqi Immigrant, translator, news analyst and VCU student


Thanks to a $30,000 grant from The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP), a college access organization, can continue its financial aid services to students in central Virginia high schools during the 2016-2017 school year.

“GRASP is most appreciative of this generous support from The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia,” said Bettsy Heggie, GRASP CEO.  “It will allow us to continue helping central Virginia students take their next steps toward education after high school and the opportunity for a better future as a result of that education.”

GRASP, a Virginia non-profit, implements its services via advisors who provide free, confidential, one-on-one counseling to students seeking financial aid and scholarships for continuing education after high school – whether that is technical school, community college or a four-year university.

GRASP advisors now serve students and families in 76 Virginia schools, from the greater Richmond area, to Highland County in the west, to Lancaster County in the east, and to Sussex County in the south.  The highly trained, GRASP advisors are adept at navigating the maze of the college and post-secondary education financial aid process.  They also have a passion for helping today’s youth grasp infinite opportunities.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, GRASP advisors overall met with more than 6,800 students individually, helping them with a game plan for education after high school.  Additionally, GRASP awarded 124 Last Dollar scholarships totaling $125,000 to students, providing additional financial assistance toward their educational goals.

GRASP was co-founded in 1983 by Senator Walter Stosch and Dr. Ray Gargiulo.  GRASP advisors work one day per week at each school.  Appointments, which are free of charge, can be made through the schools’ counseling offices.  More information about GRASP is available at the website, www.grasp4va.org.