Arts & Humanities


SVGS has programs and courses designed to meet the unique needs of gifted and highly motivated students in different areas.  Students may attend the ARTS & HUMANTIES program in one of three curriculum areas: Humanities, Fine Arts, or Performing Arts.

In the Humanities area, students take one credit in humanities and two credits from the following areas, culture, communications, psychology, sociology and other possible electives. This area provides students not interested in performing or producing art an opportunity for a broader educational experience in arts and humanities.

In the Fine or Performing Arts area, students take one credit in humanities and three credits from the following areas: studio, crafts and skills workshop, appreciation, and history. These areas provide students interested in fine or performing arts an intensive program to develop their skills.

Numerous arts organizations and artists have partnered with SVGS to provide students with enrichment and extensions of the Arts program. In particular, students and staff work with the Staunton-Augusta Art Center, Shenandoah Valley Art Center, Shenan-Arts, Waynesboro Players, and the American Shakespeare Company. Many private artists have opened their homes and studios to SVGS students.

SVGS also presents a series of distinguished Humanities scholars and artists to share their backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and perspectives with students through the Giving Voice speaker series which has included experts from philosophy and ethics, communications, anthropology, sociology, writing, and film making.

Humanities Courses

(Click here to see the SVGS Humanities webpage!)

humiGovernor’s School Humanities I    Humanities I introduces students to the rigors of college-level academic writing and critical thinking. In the fall, students explore essential texts centered on timely issues such as education, language, gender and society, and ethics and morality. Class discussions form the cornerstone of exploring ideas and give students the opportunity to share insights and to appreciate others’ perspectives. Students then generate their own essay topics and take those topics through the writing process: drafting, peer editing, conferencing with the teacher, rethinking, and revising. Later in the year, students transition to the course’s literary focus with texts that reflect the emergence and evolution of the American Dream. These works help students understand the unique qualities of the American spirit and its relevance today. As part of the course, students gain experience in working with literary criticism to develop their growing understanding of what it means to make thoughtful assertions about texts and to be able to support those assertions. Essays require students to incorporate criticism as a means of supporting their own original observations. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (Eng. 111/112, 3 credits each) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Humanities II
 – Humanities II builds on the composition and critical thinking skills students have established in Humanities I. Course content is focused on having students explore the concept of individualism in various societies and the literary expression of the challenges posed to these characters — the connection between rugged individualists and their relationships to the societies that have create d them. Texts reflect the chronological evolution of these characters, from the warrior hero in Beowulf to the global survivors in World War Z, and texts invite students to consider the psychological and cultural implications of these individualists ’ sometimes problematic existence in their own societies : What choices are they faced with? How do they resolve dilemmas? What else could be done? In addition, students continue to explore literary criticism as a means of supporting their own original approaches to essays with an emphasis on seeking out and using relevant digital sources effectively. Students who have successfully completed the BRCC pre – requisites may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (Hum. 111, 3 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Communications  – A two-semester, continuous course in which you have the opportunity to acquire skills and explore communication theory, issues, challenges, and practical applications. The primary focus during the first semester is upon rhetoric and public speaking. The second semester opens up to explore nonverbal, interpersonal, small-group, intercultural, and mass communication. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (CST 100 & CST 126, 3 credits each, total of 6 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Humanities in Western Culture  – This course approaches an introductory survey of the humanities in western culture by focusing on significant events, styles, movements, and figures in western arts and philosophy. From the thinkers, writers, and artists of ancient Greece who created the foundations of western culture, we’ll follow the journey from them through to our own contemporary ideas, styles, and the ever-growing variety of expressive modes and media. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (HUM 201, 3 credits ) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Psychology  – This course is about you.  We will work to understand about human nature – how one’s brain works and how that supports their mind.  This course introduces students to the scientific study of how we feel and act and to the fundamental knowledge of major concepts, theory, history, current trends in understanding human behavior and mental processes.  Students will learn about the methods psychologists use to find the answers to questions about brain function and its relationship to behavior, perception, motivation, cognition, learning, personality, social and mental health. Second semester will focus on development of physical, cognitive and psycho-social growth across the lifespan.  Students will learn to think critically about psychological evidence, to evaluate its validity and to apply its relevance to important issues in their own life. Students will develop insight into their own and others’ behavior and mental processes and apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (PSYC 200 & PSYC 230, 3 credits each, 6 credits total) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Sociology – (Tentatively scheduled to be offered in 2019-20) This course introduces the fundamentals of social life, and provides understanding of the structure and processes of modern societies and their historical antecedents. Students will explore the social experience by addressing such topics as culture, socialization, social interaction, bureaucracy, norms and diversity, social inequality, social institutions, modernization, technology and social change, world views, and values and behavior. Significant research and theory in areas such as culture, social structure, socialization, deviance, social stratification, and social institutions will be presented. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (SOC 200, 3 credits) at their own expense.

 Governor’s School Acting  I – Acting is a craft involving skills that can benefit everyone. Through this course, students will explore acting technique that may be used to further a career, as well as improving their abilities to communicate, create, focus, analyze, carry themselves with confidence, and work with others effectively. Students will have the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of the acting process, including basic terminology, use of voice and body, creativity and imagination, working/communicating with an ensemble, analyzing a dramatic text, and creating and portraying characters.

Governor’s School Acting II  – Students will review and expand upon basic stage terminology, the importance of ensemble, scene and character analysis, the rehearsal process, criticism, audition preparation, and acting as a business.  Students will work primarily with Michael Shurtleff’s Audition and Melissa Bruder’s A Practical Handbook for the Actor, as well as with any scenes and monologues selected or assigned from various plays. The emphasis of Studio Acting II will be on preparation for collegiate and professional auditions; refinement of rehearsal and performance practices culminating in a senior showcase, familiarization with acting techniques that a working actor needs; and exploration of different styles of acting that may arise in collegiate and professional theatre situations, including the methods of the major acting teachers.

Beard PrepGovernor’s School Craft and Skills Workshops I/II  – Students will study with various professional guest artists from the community to hone specialized skills needed in the theatre world. Sessions may range from two-week workshops to seven-week mini-courses. Sometimes, students may have the opportunity to choose between two guest artists. Topics of study may include Audition Preparation, Costuming, Dance/Movement, Media Editing, Stage Combat, Storytelling, Theatrical Makeup, and Vocal Performance. This course also includes the Winter Theatre Production Seminar, which culminates in a full-length production, and the Senior Capstone Project (seniors only).  [Note:  Due to the importance of basic skills such as voice and movement, some Skills and Craft course offerings will be mandatory for first-year students.]

Governor’s School Introduction to Theatre  – This course provides an overview of the theater as an art form, including historical and production points of view. It is designed as: (1) an introduction to the broad spectrum of the collaborative theatrical crafts including acting, playwriting, directing, designing (set, lighting, costuming, sound), (2) a brief overview of the history of performance and theatrical traditions, and (3) a vehicle for theatre appreciation. Students have the option of taking this class for dual-enrollment credit from BRCC.

Governor’s School Dramatic Theory and Criticism  – Students will use a variety of critical tools and perceptual viewpoints as a basis for making informed judgments about theatre art. With Aristotle’s Poetics as the starting point, students will read and discuss works of dramatic literature, criticism, and dramaturgy, observe and critique theatre performances (both live and filmed), and research and compose play analyses, creative projects, and production concepts. This course focuses on major western theatrical periods, including 20th century reactions against and modifications to realism.


Visual Arts Courses

(Click here to see the SVGS Visual Arts webpage!)

Governor’s School Studio Art I  – Students study many styles, topics, and techniques using a wide variety of media with the intention of receiving a breadth of knowledge from which to develop their own personal style.  Emphasis is on basic skills development, self-expression and experimenting with materials and techniques.  Students focus on art production using two- and three-dimensional media and building upon their prior studio experience.  A portion of class time is devoted to improvement of basic drawing and design skills.  The students begin developing a body of work to use for their portfolio.   Students utilize the language of the visual arts and understand, evaluate, and celebrate art in its historical and cultural context as a multicultural means of communication.   Students develop critical thinking and communication skills as they articulate their personal responses to the aesthetic qualities of works of art.

Governor’s School Studio Art II Students continue exploration of media and techniques with an emphasis on portfolio development through focused study of utilizing the elements and principles of design and in-depth investigation of self-selected topics.   Students select an area of concentration in two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or drawing media, according to the course description for Advanced Placement Studio Art.  A schedule of proposed projects in these concentration areas are individually arranged with their instructor.  Students also complete project work assigned by the instructor and continue to develop drawing and design skills, especially color theory, through regular exercises in these areas.   Through these assignments and the student-directed concentration projects, students create a body of work representing their own personal style for their portfolio.   Students may opt to take this course for Advanced Placement Studio Art credit at their own expense by submitting a portfolio completed through the work created in this course.

IMG_2031Governor’s School Art Craft and Skills Workshops I/II  – Students will specialize in exploration of specific media and techniques through study with guest professional artists who are willing to share their knowledge and skills with them.   Students will be offered two- and three-dimensional topics on a six to eight week basis.   Classes may be taught at SVGS or may be taught at studio spaces in the community.   By working with professional artists, students will learn about the career of an artist and the experience of working in the art world.   The students also receive an in-depth studio experience in which experimentation, exploration, and individual development are encouraged.

Governor’s School Survey of World Art I  – This course is a traditional art history survey course.  It covers artistic traditions from Prehistoric art to the transition from the art of the Middle Ages to the art of the Renaissance.  Students will learn about art from an historical and cultural perspective during this period of time by examining major forms of artistic expression from world cultures including European, African, Near Eastern, Asian, and Central, South, and Native American.   Students will analyze and critique these artistic styles in architecture, sculpture, painting, and other art media.   Part of the course is also devoted to art appreciation.  Students develop skills in evaluation and judgment through increased knowledge of the range of media, techniques, and stylistic approaches utilized by artists.  Students will study aesthetics and criticism, in addition to art history. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit available (ART 201 3 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Survey of World Art II – Introduction to art and architecture of the world from the Renaissance through Modern ages. Includes European Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment, 19th and 20th centuries, as well as Asian and African arts. Students will analyze and critique these artistic styles in architecture, sculpture, painting, and other art media. Part of the course is also devoted to art appreciation.  Students develop skills in evaluation and judgment through increased knowledge of the range of media, techniques, and stylistic approaches utilized by artists.  Students will study aesthetics and criticism, in addition to art history. They will learn to analyze, interpret, and judge.Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit available (Art 202, 3 credits) at their own expense.


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