just can't say enough good things about Symposium 2000 (S2K).
I want to start this retrospective by thanking the people who made
Foy: First and foremost, the Symposium was his idea, and he has been the
guiding spirit behind it. He has rallied the faculty to the cause, and was
instrumental in choosing the theme for the Symposium: re: 20th c. It was
only fitting that Lucy honored him for his 30 years of dedication to the
Faculty: Randy may have led the charge, but the entire faculty helped
carry the event. Special thanks to those who presented seminars.
College: For allowing us the use of their campus and facilities for the
Milner: For her guidance and assistance in getting the event organized,
for her willing help, and for her enthusiasm for the program and the
Hallman: Holly coordinated all the activity of the weekend, provided
facilities, had all the answers, and knew what to do when. And she did it
all with a big smile and a great attitude, even when things got hectic.
Her abilities and attitude were a great benefit to an otherwise bewildered
Williams: Our Vice-President, who collected all the registrations and
organized things on the GSAA side, so that all was in readiness when
Saturday rolled around.
finally, a big, big, thanks to Robyn Johnson, the Teacher/Counselor who
acted as our liaison between the Alumni Association and the GS faculty and
staff. Though she was unable to attend the Symposium, she put long hours
into creating it, scheduling it, organizing it, and making it happen.
There is no greater dedication than to work very hard to create something
that you yourself will not be able to enjoy. Like Beethoven, she
orchestrated this work, and yet could not hear it herself.
arrived in Winston-Salem Friday afternoon, a brand-new 175g World Class
Frisbee in hand. In shorts and T-shirt (from GSE 1996) I headed to the
soccer fields. As dinner ended, students began to show up. Most were from
the 2000 class, but some were alumni, including a couple of the faculty.
After tossing a few discs around for half and hour, we chose sides,
squared off, and began the Ultimate Challenge.
about 20 spectators on the benches, 20 or so of us, on two teams, kicked
off the disc. Over the next hour, we ran, sweat threw, caught, and had a
great time. Most of the alumni team was from 1999, excepting myself, the
faculty members, and Brandon Wu (1998). (Good luck at Yale, Brandon!) The
alumni started off well, but as time wore on, so did we. In the end, the
enthusiasm of the 2000 class won out, and they started scoring on us
easily. We lost track of the score, but that didn't matter. What counted
was that we had fun, and that the students were introduced to the alumni
in a friendly, fun, and spirited way. We're not all old and stodgy, you
know. Congrats to Caroline for winning the Game Disc.
the game, there was a small ensemble concert. Unfortunately, I was too
tired, sore, and sweaty to attend. I heard it was great.
morning, I got up and trooped out to the Fine Arts Center to set up. Holly
showed up soon after my own arrival and helped me get tables, chairs,
string, wire, and rubber bands as needed. She brought all the work that
Robyn had performed (Schedule of Events, maps, name tags, etc.). When
Sonja arrived with the registration lists, we were ready.
hundred and eight alumni signed in, at least 20 of which were walk-ons. As
they wandered in, there were shrieks, hugs, and handshakes as people met
friends they had not seen in nearly a year. They milled about, visited
some Area I classes, watched the chorus practice in Hanes, or attended a
math and science presentation in Shirley. At 10:30, we all trooped into
Hanes for the Opening Ceremony.
Milner gave the opening speech, in which she recognized several people who
were instrumental in starting GS and in leading it through the years. Joe
Milner spoke in his capacity as Director of GS East. I did my own welcome
Lucy led us all in a tribute to JoAnne North Goetz, a tribute long-awaited
and well placed, especially in light of the alumni present. JoAnne began
the Alumni Association in the mid-1980s as an organization to oppose the
then-current political climate, which was cutting educational spending and
threatening to cut GS completely. Through her efforts and those of the
alumni she organized, GS was saved, but not undamaged: the budget was cut
deeply, a cut that we are still struggling to heal. I did not get a chance
to make my own speech, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank
JoAnne for all her hard work and dedication. (In honor of her services, I
have asked her to serve again. See the GSAA Meeting for details.)
Randy Foy went over the schedule of events, Mark Dixon and Kate Burnet
(Art) gave a presentation entitled "Art from 1955 until this
Morning." This presentation, which the students had seen on their
first day of the program, concentrated on the latest developments in art,
and ended with the failure of a 40-foot teddy bear to inflate. However,
one did inflate in the lobby, and people had to pass through it (that's
THROUGH, not around) as they exited.
began the sessions. Unlike the 1999 seminar, there were three session
times on the schedule, so that people could see more than one
presentation. Many were put on by the faculty, but some were done by
alumni and visiting speakers. To give you an idea of what they were like,
here are the topics.
Movement: Kelly Knox and Dierdre Smith lead people in using their bodies
as a work of art through music and dance.
and Consciousness: Chris Bachelor and Cynthia Nearman lead reading as
discussions of several works of short fiction that explore representations
Mountain College: Robert Shaw discusses that famous experimental North
Carolina College of the 1940s-1950s whose faculty included John Cage,
Merce Cunningham, Joseph Albers, and Buckminster Fuller.
Artistically in Everyday Life: Julnar Rizk gives perspectives of a
violinist and physical therapist.
Dilemma in Genetics: Chad Chadbourne leads a discussion of the moral and
ethical implications of new genetic testing methods that will allow you to
determine the characteristics of your baby: from hereditary medical
conditions to hair color.
Changing Nature of Memoir: Alumnus Theresa Bowers Noble discusses what
memoir is, how people read it, why people write it, and the cultural
importance of it.
and Philosophy: Veteran Area II instructor Bob Vorsteg leads people to
examine their definition of patriotism, and how that definition fits into
a personal or national moral philosophy.
Trains: Nathan Finke leads a performance of this Steve Reich work for
electric string quartet, with spoken commentary of survivors of Holocaust
Fiction? A Genetic Scenario: GS students Laura Caruso, Andrew Smith, and
David Bruzina lead a debate over whether the gene for aggressive behavior
should be eliminated from the gene pool.
Chien Angelou: Phillip Haigh shows a film and discusses the unconscious.
- Liberator or Oppressor: Jonathan Milner analyzes the role of the schools
in reproducing social structures.
Kate Burnet and Mark Dixon discuss the psychological difficulties of
of Student Compositions: Robin Cox introduces works composed and performed
by the GS Class of 2000.
and Escherís Virtual Reality: GSW Director Lucy Milner explores selected
works of the Argentinean writer Borges and the Dutch artist Escher, with
attention to the interplay between everyday realities and the vision of
Contemporary Theater 2000: Amelia Rosenberg leads a performance and
discussion of a contemporary short comedy, with audience participation.
Speech and the Supreme Court: A last-minute addition to the agenda, a
discussion of the issues of the First Amendment and the direction in which
free speech issues are being moved by Supreme Court decisions. (Free
Speech became quite a hot topic at GS this year.)
personally attended the talk on Patriotism and the one on the Ethical
Dilemma in Genetics, for nostalgic reasons: Chad was an instructor of mine
when I attended GS in 1979. (He was VERY young then. Twelve, maybe.) And
Bob Vorsteg has been with GS for years, yet I had never had the pleasure
of attending one of his lectures. Both were lively discussions dealing
with knotty problems and definitions, and we dove in to the gray areas
between the opposing views. Like any other GS event, we were challenged to
think and examine our own value systems, and relate that to what society
calls the norm, and ask if that norm is good or bad. Both were quite fun
and thought-provoking, and for a moment I almost thought I was back at GS.
The great thing, though, was the Class of 2000, all of whom were just as
ready to jump in with an opinion and tell old gray-haired me that I was
way off base. Itís a pain to have kids argue with you, but itís very
refreshing to have kids challenge you and your unreasonable beliefs. I was
again amazed at how smart and discerning the students were, and I
contribute that to the five weeks they have spent at GS.
the sessions were over, we held the GSAA Annual Meeting. The majority of
the attendees were, of course, from the Class of 1999. They were very
fired up. I will report the meetingís minutes in another message, but
suffice it to say that the Class of 1999, if they hold to their fire, will
become a very active group, indeed. (And also, it is up to me and the
other officers to keep them involved. If we ignore them, they will quite
correctly ignore us back.)
dinner was next, and Iíll say very little about it other than, I was
misled. I did not think that we would be getting the same Refectory food,
but we did. Fortunately, most of the attendees were understanding and I
got few complaints.
dinner, we split up. Many of the Class of 1999 went to a special meeting
time/place just for them. Others went to watch a dress rehearsal in the
Drama Workshop. (I talked business with the officers. Sometimes itís no
fun being in charge.)
we went to Hanes for a combined Chorus/Orchestra performance. It was
great. Excellent material, excellent performances, and just what you would
expect from the Governorís School. Under the direction of Leandra
AnafShalom and Steven Thomas, the chorus performed:
Ave Maria (1996) by William Hawley
Lied vom Winde (1938-39) by Hugo Distler
Gentle Visitations (1953) by Ned Rorem
A Far Island (1953) by Ned Rorem
Black Mountain Epigrams (2000) by GS Alumna Jennifer Fitzgerald
Maria (1900) by Gustav Holst
will mention one performance in particular, that of Black Mountain
Epigrams. Jennifer Fitzgerald, a GS alumnus now at Duke University, wrote
this piece based on her research into the Black Mountain College. The
music combined jazz rhythms with excerpts from the Black Mountain College
Catalog, and was very complex and though-provoking. It was also the World
Premiere of the piece. And of course, wouldnít you know it, near the end
of this world premiere of a piece by a GS-bred artist, being recorded for
posterity, a moment of pride and personal achievement, someoneís cell
phone went off and they made a great noise and disruption leaving the
auditorium to answer it, the phone buzzing all the way. (What is this
fascination with cell phones? I get enough annoying calls at home...why
would I want to get them everywhere?) As the phone continued its buzzing,
I saw Leandraís head slump: whether in dejection or annoyance I could
the show went on. After a brief intermission to get the stage ready, the
Orchestra came on and played. As usual, they were excellent. The
selections for this year were:
Searching for Roots (1990) by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur.
De natura sonoris (1996) by Krzysztof Penderecki
Part III: Meister Eckhardt and Quackie (1985) by John Adams
piece by Tuur was a US premiere.
these three pieces were over, and after Randy Foy received a special
recognition for his 30 years of service to Governorís School (and his
reply: ďIn the words of John Cage, ĎI have nothing to say, and I am
saying it.íĒ), they cleared the stage, brought out the piano, and
began Pages Mystiques, by Erik Satie. This piece is noteworthy in that its
second movement, entitled Vexations, is one minute long but repeated eight
hundred and forty times. Thus, the completion of this piece would take
place sometime early Sunday afternoon. After about the fifth time through,
most of the audience got up and left for the party.
And there was a dance, with DJ and refreshments provided by the GSAA. The current students and the Class of 1999 had a great time. Most of we older types sat and watched, or guarded the punch bowl. Special thanks to JoAnne Goetz for arranging the DJ and the punch-and-cookies.
then the clock struck midnight, the music stopped, and everyone had 30
minutes to get to their rooms.
The next morning, tired and sleepy, I made my way to Hanes in time to catch the end of Vexations and hear the third movement, Harmonies, of the Satie piece. Sleepy music students napped in the aisles until, around repetition 830, someone went around and woke them all to hear the final cycles and the third movement. When it was over, everyone gave each other a standing ovation, there were hugs and yawns, and everyone went back to the dorms for a change of clothes and maybe a nap. And with that, Symposium Weekend was officially over, until next year.
Can You Help?
We hope the Alumni Symposium will foster a greater connection among alumni and provide a forum for exploring ideas about the mind, technology, and creativity as we come to the end of the century. As with any ambitious plan, these projects requires funding in order to be a success. In addition to the costs associated with this event, we hope to establish a fund for continuing such alumni events in the future. Will you support this idea with a donation of $25, $50, $100, or more? Those who give $100 or more will be listed on the weekend's brochure as "founding donors." Your generosity will not only assure that the event happens, but will underwrite its excellence in the best spirit of Governor's School.
Please make out donations to GSAA and send to:
Help Needed to Contact Alumni
Reunions and Alumni Weekend are held the last weekend of July every year, on campus at GS West in Winston-Salem. However, attendence at these meetings has been slight for the past few years. We would like to do more on these weekends and attract more alumni. We would like to find a representative from each class, to take charge of generating interest in GS among their alumni, and, with help from the GSAA, organize their own reunions. If you would like to help contact your class and get them together, please contact the GSAA immediately through the E-mail address at the bottom of this page. You will be provided with a list of the currently-known names and addresses of people in your class. You can choose from any of several formats for the data, from an ASCII file to a stand-alone DOS database application. (Indicate your preference on the E-mail. Certain database, word processor merge, and spreadsheet formats are available.)
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