INSIDE MTSU: Governor’s School students’ ‘creative spark’ welcome at MTSU, community

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Every year, when kids start scurrying around campus with their ever-present badges and lanyards, I’m thrilled at the prospect of another Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU.

I say “kids,” and that’s not really fair, because you usually can’t tell them apart from our other dedicated students headed to classes in the summer heat. We have plenty of theatre majors and dancers and filmmakers and musicians and graphic artists on campus year-round, all talented and all determined to share their exceptional creativity with the world.

These Governor’s School 10th- and 11th-graders, though, always tickle me to pieces. They travel in little groups between buildings, often singing and dancing, always in deep discussions about the topics they’ve just covered in one or more of the in-depth classes they take during their four-week stint on campus.

And believe me, what these students see every day is full immersion. They’re warned when they apply that it’s a “rigorous and demanding schedule”: classes all day; rehearsals and special events at night; absolutely no visitors, including family and significant others; and perhaps what might be the most horrifying aspect of all for a teenager in 2014: no cell phones during classes, rehearsals and performances.

These are dedicated young people. They’re not here at Governor’s School each year as the result of a popularity contest; they’ve already earned their tickets with their expertise and with support from their teachers and counselors. They successfully navigated a nerve-wracking audition or portfolio review back in January to join more than 300 other young artists for this year’s 30th anniversary session.

They learn daily from professionals in their fields, getting advice and suggestions and constructive criticism and support from people who’ve been precisely where they are: on the cusp of tackling a potential creative career. A lucky few are part of master classes that feature guest artists offering even more learning and growth opportunities.

Think back to when you were their age. What creative spark obsessed you? What kept you after school, up all night, or as late as your parents would allow, revising just one more time, working to finish something that you’d created and that you knew would make you proud?

That’s precisely what the participants at the Governor’s School for the Arts are allowed to do, for four straight weeks, while they’re here on the MTSU campus. They’re in an environment that allows them to focus solely on their talents and how to express them. For a solid month, they give up family vacations, sports leagues, jobs and all the other special summer events every kid spends most of the school year anticipating, all to devote themselves to their art.

Dr. Raphael Bundage, a professor in MTSU’s School of Music and director of the Governor’s School for the Arts, proudly notes that more than 9,000 people have made their way through 30 years of this summer arts residency at MTSU.
“Not everyone who attends our Governor’s School ends up in the arts,” he cautions. “That mindset is there, though, and that creative capacity is there. Whatever field they end up in, that creative spark will be there and can be useful to them.”

Mark your calendar now and join us on campus for the public finale performances of the 2014 session of the Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU on June 25 and 26; details are available at the GSFTA Facebook page at and down the right side of the page at They’re all free, but they’ll be worth a million bucks.

Come see what these kids can do today. You’ll be seeing plenty of them in the next 30 years.

Gina E. Fann works in MTSU’s Office of News and Media Relations and manages content for the university’s news site,

Tagged under  governor's, mtsu, school

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