South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics

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South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics
SCGSSM logo.jpg
401 Railroad Ave.
Hartsville, South Carolina, United States
Coordinates 34°22′23″N 80°03′54″W / 34.373°N 80.065°W / 34.373; -80.065Coordinates: 34°22′23″N 80°03′54″W / 34.373°N 80.065°W / 34.373; -80.065
Type Public boarding school
Motto Smart is Fun! GSSM: 24/7 Smart!
Established 1988
President Dr. Murray Brockman
Grades 11-12
Number of students ~225
Campus Residential Dormitories mixed with Labs, Classrooms, and a Gymnasium
Color(s) Navy Blue and Silver
Mascot Eagle
Newspaper The Govie Gazette

The South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) is a public boarding high school in for students in grades 11 and 12, located in Hartsville, South Carolina. The school concentrates on science and mathematics, but offers the full spectrum of the humanities as well.


When GSSM started in 1988, the school had 70 students. Every year after that roughly 64 juniors are accepted to complete the full enrollment of 128 students. The student body is split into halves of 64 boys and 64 girls. Each year, some juniors do not return to become seniors and their spots are filled by incoming juniors; so the class sizes vary, but ideally, there should be equal numbers in each class.

In 2003, GSSM moved to its own campus with the goal of eventually increasing its population to 300. They began the expansion in 2012, increasing the number of juniors admitted.



Admission to GSSM is by application and open to any resident of South Carolina in his or her sophomore year of high school. More than 200 students apply each year for the coming junior class, with about 64 accepted in 2006 (varying from year to year so that the student body size at the start of each year is 128).[1] This number has continued to increase and the number of accepted juniors in 2013 was 123. The remaining students are placed on a waiting list, which is pulled from should any of the originally selected students decide not to accept.

Applications are normally due by March before the school year in which the students will begin attending. It should be noted that a score on one of the following standardized tests is required for admittance: PSAT, SAT, or the ACT.

Previously, attendance to GSSM was completely free to students, and the cost would be covered by the state as it would be for any other public school. However, the budget for GSSM is covered by both the state and private support, so recently the school had to institute a $2,000 fee (for meals) to avoid cutbacks. Students are not prevented from attending if they are unable to pay, and a sliding scale system is employed that allows students to afford SCGSSM. This scale allows families that can not afford the entire sum to pay at least a portion of it.



GSSM has 23 faculty, 18 with doctorate degrees, and substantial teaching experience at both the secondary and college level. A larger number of teachers were hired starting in the 2012 school year with the majority having doctorate degrees and all having at least a master's. The number of faculty hired will continue to increase to keep a small student to teacher ratio.

Schedule and Classes[edit]

A student at GSSM has a schedule containing typically 7 classes as a junior, and 6-7 as a senior (any more than this is referred to as "overloading"). The courses are essentially at college level, and the class schedule meets like college classes. Even though only a few courses strictly follow AP guidelines, many of the students successfully take and pass AP exams for a large number of their courses. Juniors are required to take a year-long Junior English course, A.P. U.S. History if they have not already, one math course, two laboratory science courses, an elective (typically a foreign language) and a course entitled "Life and Leisure" which teaches study skills, good health habits and time management. Being a school that emphasizes science and math, all students are required to take a math course each semester, and are required to take a year of chemistry, physics and biology, as well as electives.

Juniors and many seniors are required to participate in QUEST (Quality Uninterrupted Enforced Study Time). This takes place every Sunday through Thursday evening before a class day from 8 to 10 pm. Students in QUEST are required to be either in their rooms or some other study environment (the cafeteria is a popular location) during these hours. During Finals Week, it becomes ConQUEST (Concentrated Quality Uninterrupted Enforced Study Time). While this does not mean that all students must be constantly studying and may stop only to take exams, it does mean that the QUEST environment, such as a minimum noise level, is to remain in effect at all times. Lights-out policy is suspended for studying during ConQUEST.

The school follows a two semester model (August–December, and late January–May) with a three week "interim" session in early January, where students take a single class. A few of these courses involve trips out of the country - in January 2007 there were courses in Costa Rica and Paris/Munich. This program was later expanded with a "Tech Trek", having gone to the New England area in January 2013 and Silicon Valley in January 2014.

Summer Program for Research Interns[edit]

Each summer after the junior year, students are required to participate in a six week long summer research project ( called the Summer Program for Research Interns - SPRI). These usually take place at college campuses (most commonly University of South Carolina, Clemson, and MUSC) or corporate research centers. Although students may live at home during the project if they are near the research site, most students live in residence near the research site. The research is at the college level, and the students are required to present their results at a yearly scientific conference held at the school called Colloquium. Sometimes the work is also published in professional journals. In addition to presenting their work at Colloquium, students are required to present research at the South Carolina Junior Academy of Science (SCJAS) before a panel of scientific judges.

In 2009, GSSM started the Research Exchange Scholar's Program [RESP] program with exchange students from Pforzheim, Germany[2] and Daejeon, Korea. In 2013, GSSM planned on sending 3 students to England but the idea was scratched due to not enough support

Student life[edit]


The original dormitories used during the 1988/89 year were in the newly renovated Susan Stout Coker Memorial Hall. The boys were mostly on the second floor with an additional six more on the first floor while the girls were on the third floor. The computer lab was on the first floor and laundry rooms were located on the second and third floors. There was a single lounge on the third floor for all students and it also served double duty as the meeting room. The lounge was mostly devoid of furniture except for a ping pong table, a TV and a few chairs. Most of the rooms were for two people but a few had three. The room contained a bed, desk and armoire for each student. The bathrooms and showers were located at the end of each floor. One small common room on the first floor had a phone that students could use to make phone calls.

From 1989 to 2003 GSSM students were housed in the Richard and Tuck Coker Residence Hall which was wholly used by GSSM. The Dorm was four stories tall and split in half into a boy's and girl's side on the top three floors. Each of these floors contained twelve two-person rooms, one of which was housed by a single floor Resident Assistant who was responsible for the students. The end of each floor contained a common room with furniture and a TV. The bottom floor of the building contained a main desk a RA was usually stationed at, along with informal mail boxes that doubled as small open lockers. Additional rooms were located along the outside of the building. These included three classrooms, assembly room, computer lab, language lab, Handicap room, and a dual use laundry/activity room.

The new campus building is very similar and also four stories tall, with the fourth floor opened to students for the 2013 school year The dorm room arrangement is quite similar to the old facility, but each floor now contains several more rooms, two RA rooms (housing Coker College students employed as RAs) and a Residence Life Coordinator apartment (housing a full-time residence hall staff member). The lowest floor contains the classrooms, offices of staff and faculty, the cafeteria, and lobbies.

Student rooms house two persons, and each pair of rooms share a common bathroom. There are two computer LAN ports in each room, as well as a sink, two beds (which can be arranged in bunk form), two desks, two dressers, and two bookcases.

On nights before classes, students are required to be on their floor by 10:30 pm. The period between the end of QUEST at 10 pm and the 10:30 curfew time is known as "Happy Half" and students often get together during that time for socialization. Curfew is at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

About every four weeks the school closes down for a "long weekend". Students are required to go home on Thursday afternoon after classes, and return Sunday afternoon.


The culture of the school is unique from year to year as half the student body turns over, however there are some common elements. In general new students go from being one of the top of their classes at their previous schools to being just like every one else at GSSM. While this is disconcerting academically it is enjoyed socially as there is more of an interest overlap among students, and in a way each student suddenly has over 100 probable new friends. The relatively small size of the school allows for most students to at least know everyone else even if they do not commonly hang out together. However, the school, due to recent pressure from the state, is expanding to a capacity of around 300 students. The first year of expansion was 2012-2013, where a junior class of 108 was accepted. The fourth floor of the residence hall is expected to open for the 2013-2014 school year to accommodate more students. The increased number of students may change the culture of the school forever; concomitantly, this may be noticed with something like meal times, causing students to have assigned times because of space constraints in the dining hall.


There are several traditions that mark student's time at GSSM.

  • Every year there is a talent show case held at the Midnight Rooster, the local coffee shop. The show is entitled "Coffeehouse". However due to the larger class size in 2012, "Coffeehouse" was presented in the GSSM Cafeteria instead.
  • At the end of each year there is a skit show put on by students, for students called 'Follies'. The skits often playfully make fun of school life and the school's administration. More recently, however, Follies has been more of a talent show like Coffeehouse, with the addition of the senior boys and girls performing a song each and the reading-out of humorous predictions as to the seniors' futures.
  • Happy Day: Each day a large sheet of white paper is displayed for one boy and one girl with their names on it. During the day other students come by and write messages to the chosen students.
  • Year Book: There is an annual year book along with a year book signing party.
  • Senior Wills: Each student of the senior class creates a Last Will and Testament to the rest of the student body. These Wills are a way for each student to leave a final message to the student body and typically make specific comments to other students. These comments include things like well wishes, advice, inside jokes and leaving certain real or ethereal items to others. The Wills are collected, edited heavily, printed, and distributed to all .
  • Every year there is a "home-going" week, filled with spirit week activities
  • Every year, on the first weekend, a senior takes a junior out for dinner and an activity. This evening is dubbed SYR (Set-up Your Roommate), however there's not much setting up anymore. Seniors choose their own Junior dates or are randomly paired with a Junior.
  • Many times a senior will pass down their room to a junior for the following year; in fact, there are a number of rooms that have achieved named status and are passed down by the two owners every year to handpicked juniors. For example, the room closest to the stairwell on the second floor- making it closest to the main floor downstairs- is known as The Coveted Suite and has several physical objects that are passed down with it as well. Another room, known as the Pirate-Ninja Suite is inhabited by members of a club of the same name and is similarly passed down every year. Those chosen as inheritors of a suite do not necessarily have to live in the suite itself (sometimes due to circumstances such as the room lottery held at the end of each year).


All students at GSSM are required to participate in physical activity (such as working out at the YMCA - all students have memberships there) two hours per week. Participation in interscholastic sports is allowed as well for the physical activity requirement (during the season for each sport).

Current varsity sports (1A division) include basketball, cheerleading, cross-country, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, and volleyball.

In the past, volleyball won the Region VIIA championship (2004, 2005, and 2011). The school changed to region IIIA in 2012 and also won the region. Girls' tennis won the Region VIIA championship. Additionally, the swimming team had ten students compete in the state championship.

Boys' cross-country competed in the state championship, finishing in the Top 15. In 2007, Boys Cross Country captured 3rd place in the state, while also having the 9th and 10th place individual finishers. Track had four individuals make it to lower state championships in 2007. GSSM also boasts the boys' state one-mile and two-mile champion. Soccer won the Region VIIA championship, losing in the state semi-finals. In 2012, the Boys Soccer Team won the Lower-State Championship losing in the State Final to St. Joseph´s Catholic School. This was the school´s first state championship berth. The team was led by captains Cam Taylor, Max Franks, and Ryan Pubentz.[3] SCGSSM State Soccer Championship 2012

Notable Alumni[edit]

Aziz Ansari[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Where Excellence is the Norm" (PDF). Autumn 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "SCGSSM Varsity Sports". August 2004. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  4. ^ Aziz Ansari

External links[edit]