Isabella is in 10th grade. This is her first year in Journalism. She is on the Debate team and likes to draw. A fun fact about her is that she has two...
All About BRVGS
May 1, 2023
For students who want to be really challenged, there may no greater option than to become a part of The Blue Ridge Virginia Governor’s School (BRVGS), an academic program for students across the region. The purpose of BRVGS is to push students with experiences and opportunities they may not be party to in a normal high school class. As a multi-district program, BRVGS is able to offer advanced classes that schools may not have the resources, teachers, or funding to offer.
The program also encourages students to socialize with other schools across rural counties in central Virginia. When working within the class, students are taught collaboration and are prepared for a higher education and future workplace environments.
“A pro to taking BRVGS is definitely how it looks on your college application,” said FCHS junior and BRVGS student Noah Jones.
Sophomore Cara Landberg agrees. “BRVGS is a great program for anyone considering college after high school. They’ll set you up with great teachers and references, AP’s to get you prepared for college level study, and internships for the future. Applying to BRVGS changed and helped me shape my high school career,” she said.
Being in BRVGS also gives students additional opportunities for field trips at no cost to the students. This year, the freshman class BRVGS went to Washington, D.C., while the sophomores went to Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. Junior and senior field trips vary depending on what BRVGS course they choose for those school years.
The field trips include mental health meet-ups, ice cream socials and other social gatherings, usually at the Zion Crossroads Best Western, to encourage camaraderie between classes, schools, and academic peers. The biggest trip offered is an international trip each summer at an additional cost to the student’s family. In recent years, these trips have been to countries like Italy and Iceland. The next BRVGS international trip will be to Brazil during the summer of 2024.
“The goal is to prepare students for college in ways that regular classes do not,” said BRVGS World History teacher Luke Divine. “In [BRVGS World History I], there is an emphasis on writing, because writing is necessary for any occupation. As I teach, I wonder how much I could have benefitted from the challenges put in front of BRVGS students. I did my best in high school to avoid having to write. Then in college, there was a sharp learning curve. We make sure students understand the Google suite (docs, slides, sheets, and email etiquette) so students are not trying to learn those skills in college,” he added.
Despite the pros, BRVGS is not for the faint of heart. BRVGS wants hard-working students and intends to put you to work. The assignments and tests are a full-time commitment and may cause excess stress if students don’t practice strong time management.
As Jones noted, “It is the hardest thing Fluvanna County High School has to offer. A con to BRVGS is the amount of work. For example, as a sophomore you take AP Biology, and personally, I feel that is not a Sophomore level class.”
BRVGS also has semester projects for freshmen and sophomores, core online courses for juniors, and the senior Capstone project which involves a paper, an internship, and a presentation. The semester projects deeply impact grades and take up a lot of time, while the presentations are typically in front of fellow 9th and 10th grade BRVGS students, so you have to be at least somewhat comfortable presenting in front of your peers.
Sophomore BRVGS student Katie Bond noted some other considerations before joining BRVGS. “Classes are year-long, so it limits what electives you can take. If you’re an elective person, BRVGS would take that away. You still get some electives, but just not as many as other people,” she said.
If you are interested in applying for BRVGS, the standard application time would be in your 8th grade year. You will need to fill out an application form which you can get on the BRVGS website. Then you will need at least three educators to complete a recommendation form online. One of the educators must be a mathematics or science teacher within the current or previous academic year. The other can be any other educator of any subject from any year.
The final step of the process after your application and recommendations have been completed is the testing and interview portion of the process. The tests will be for an understanding of the student’s achievement and ability, and there will be an essay portion. The interview will be performed by a member of the school application committee where you should be prepared to answer questions about why you are applying to BRVGS.
So is joining BRVGS worth it? Senior Abigail Adams, who just completed her Capstone project, had this to say: “It was a phenomenal experience. I did my internship with an equine veterinarian and got to help him administer vaccines, perform castrations, and even got to watch a dissection of a horse. The rest of the project involved the SPCA and the biochemical processes involved in animal care. Overall, I loved the project and I love BRVGS. It is because of BRVGS’ program that I am graduating with an Associate’s Degree from PVCC this year.”