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 SVGS in the ARTS & HUMANITIES program .

The Arts & Humanities program focuses on broader contexts and an integrated experience using arts and humanities 1) to develop skills in critical thinking and communication, 2) to engage students in creative thought, and 3) to understand the value of human expression for individuals and societies.

Arts & Humanities  students are required to take 1) one class in English; 2) one credit each from the following areas: human experience, human communication and cultural appreciation; and 3) two elective choices from those areas.  These areas provide students interested in arts & humanities an intensive program to develop their skills.   The program is designed to  provide student choice and flexibility so they may best match their interests and talents with program offerings.

Numerous arts organizations and artists have partnered with SVGS to provide students with enrichment and extensions in arts & humanities.  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 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, psychology, sociology, writing, music, and film making.




Governor’s School Literature, Composition, and Ideas I* (1521) First semester, this course introduces students to the rigors of college-level academic reading, writing, and critical thinking. Students explore essential texts centered on pertinent issues such as education, language, gender and culture, 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:  prewriting, drafting, peer editing, conferencing with me, reflecting on feedback, and applying feedback to revisions.  Second semester, students transition to the course’s literary focus with texts that reflect the emergence and evolution of the American Voice and the American Dream.  These works help students understand the unique qualities of our origins and how literature serves as documentation of our evolution into a vibrant culture.  As part of the course, students gain experience in working with literary criticism as a model ofto what it means to make thoughtful assertions about texts and to be able to support those assertions– essays this semester 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 [College Composition I] and ENG 112 [College Composition II], 3 credits each) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Literature, Composition, and Ideas II* (1522) – This course builds on the composition and critical thinking skills students have established in Literature, Composition and Ideas I.  Course content is focused on ways in which great authors have tried to make sense of the world by creating and then exploring the complicated lives of their protagonists.  Students examine the problematic role of these individuals as they seek out answers to morally troubling questions. Texts reflect the chronological evolution of this exploration, from the warrior hero in Beowulf to the global survivors in World War Z– What choices are they faced with? How do they resolve dilemmas?  What else could be done?  And what can we learn? In addition, students continue to explore literary criticism as a window on others’ perspectives and as a means of supporting students’ own original approaches to essays. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (HUM 111, 3 credits) at their own expense.

*Literature, Composition and Ideas I and II were formerly titled Humanities I and II.


Governor’s School Psychology (4254) – This course is about you.  First semester, students 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. 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. Second semester is an introduction to human development with an emphasis on life span processes within physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial development. We will examine the changes, both growth and decline, across the human lifespan from conception to death. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (PSYC 200 & PSYC 230, 3 credits each for total of 6 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Sociology of Family(4258) A two-semester, continuous course in which you have the opportunity to acquire skills and explore the fundamentals of social life, significant research and theory in areas such as culture, social structure, socialization, deviance, social stratification, and social institutions.  Specific topics second semester include marriage and family in social and cultural context, addresses the single scene, dating and marriage styles, child-rearing, husband and wife interaction, single parent families, alternative lifestyles. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (SOC 200 & SOC 215, 3 credits each for a total of 6 credits) at their own expense. 

Governor’s School Sociology of Mass Media(4258) This course provides an overview and analysis of sociological perspectives regarding the role of mass media in American society. This is an important area of sociological inquiry because mass media shape American culture, politics and social life.  During the semester we will examine the political economy of media, the role of news in democratic societies, media effects, and the role of technology in democracy. Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (SOC 200 Principles of Sociology, 3 credits) at their own expense. 


Governor’s School Acting I (1435)– 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. *Students must have successfully completed a HS drama class or demostrate exceptional talent and discipline.

Governor’s School Acting II (1440) – 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, 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. Students must have successfully completed Acting or demonstrate exceptional talent and discipline and/or a thorough knowledge of the Acting I curriculum.

Governor’s School Communications (1151) – 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 110 Introduction to Communication, 3 credits) at their own expense.

Governor’s School Film Studies & Film Making This course introduces the techniques of digital video and audio production including basic terminology and the operation of cameras, lenses, lighting, audio recording, and digital editing equipment. Through lectures, screenings, and hands-on exercises we will explore the relevant production aesthetics and practices of digital filmmaking. Students shall be able to apply knowledge gained from class into filmmaking, television, podcasts and marketing. Students will complete a series of collaborative short films.

Governor’s School Studio Art I (9150) – 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.*Students must have successfully completed a HS art class or demostrate exceptional talent and discipline.

Governor’s School Studio Art II (9147) 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 must have successfully completed Studio Art I or demonstrate exceptional talent and discipline and/or a thorough knowledge of the Studio Art I curriculum.


Governor’s School Dramatic Theory and Criticism (1450) – 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.

Governor’s School Introduction to Theatre (1448) – This course 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 may take this class for BRCC credit (CST 130 -3 credits) at their own expense.

The SVGS Theater website can be viewed:

Governor’s School Humanities in Western Culture (2315) – This course is an introductory survey of the roles of the Humanities in Western culture, focusing specifically on its defining heritage of Philosophy, the Visual Arts, and Music. We’ll follow the journey from the great thinkers and artists of ancient Greece who created the foundations of secular Western culture, along with important creators and representatives of its parallel Judeo-Christian heritage. We will proceed both chronologically and thematically through each of the major cultural eras, concluding in the second semester with some of the significant philosophies and arts of our own contemporary time with its inherited complexities.  Students may opt to take this class for BRCC credit (HUM 201, 3 credits) at their own expense.


Governor’s School Theater Craft and Skills Workshops I/II (144910/144920) – Students will study with various 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. Students may have the opportunity to choose between two guest artists topics, depending on enrollment numbers. In the event that a section fills up, seniors will receive priority. Note: this class meets at ShenanArts in Staunton on Fridays, and students must arrange their own transportation to the theater and back to their home schools.

Governor’s School Art Craft and Skills Workshops I/II (9163/9164) – 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.