Published on June 12, 2018 by Philip Poole  
Previous Alabama Governor's School participants explore health care professions.

Samford University will welcome 89 of Alabama’s best and brightest high school seniors as they attend the 31st annual Alabama Governor’s School (AGS) program June 17-29. 

The students have outstanding academic and achievement records, according to AGS director George Keller, Samford associate professor of biology. AGS participants are nominated by their schools based on academic ability, leadership qualities, creativity and community service. Selection also is based on written essays and teacher and guidance counselor recommendations. 

This year’s participants come from 28 counties and 58 high schools in Alabama. Keller said 91 percent of the participants are in the top 10 percent of their class, with 13 ranked first, 10 ranked second and three ranked third. The average grade point average is 4.18, and the average ACT score is 30. 

Among the accomplishments of this year’s participants include National Merit Scholars, National Flight Academy, Naval Academy Summer Seminar, member of U.S. men’s Paralympic soccer team, the 2018 state debate champion, the high school state swimming champion and 6A-7A state record holder, national math competition champion, state tennis champion, state, regional or national award winners in music, literature, character, oratory and French, members of all state choir, jazz band, cross country, and track and field teams, and leaders in student government and other organizations. 

“I have been director for 18 years, and I’m always impressed at the intelligence and leadership of these young people,” Keller said. “This program is one of the highlights of my year.” 

During the two-week program, students attend classes on a wide range of topics, including health care, American legal system, arts, video production, magazine production, research science, business, photography, the classics, web design, field biology, sports medicine, leadership, global citizenship, Greek mythology, astronomy and film studies. Classes are taught by Samford faculty and other professionals from the community. 

While at AGS, students also will learn about scholarships and college study skills, attend a Birmingham Barons baseball game and work on a service project, among other activities. 

J.W. Carpenter, executive director of the Birmingham Education Foundation, will be keynote speaker for the opening ceremonies June 17 at 2 p.m. in Samford’s Brock Recital Hall. 

In January 1988, Governor Guy Hunt designated the Alabama Honors Academy as the Alabama Governor’s School at Samford University. It was patterned after Governor’s Schools in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky. Carolyn Satterfield of Birmingham was the founding director of AGS, the role that Keller has filled for 18 years. Satterfield continues to remain active with the project. 

AGS is a member of the National Conference of Governor’s Schools and is funded by student tuition and fees, the William R. and Fay Ireland Governor’s School Endowment, private funding and Samford University.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.