South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities

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South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities
15 University St
United States Greenville, South Carolina, 29601
Coordinates 34°50′35″N 82°24′06″W / 34.843159°N 82.401562°W / 34.843159; -82.401562Coordinates: 34°50′35″N 82°24′06″W / 34.843159°N 82.401562°W / 34.843159; -82.401562
Type Public
Established 1999
President Dr. Bruce Halverson
Faculty 67
Number of students 236
Campus Urban, 8.5 acres (34,000 m2)
Athletics SCHSL Division 1-A
Mascot Eaglets (although the popular mascot among students is Hugh the Manatee)

The South Carolina Governor's School For the Arts & Humanities (SCGSAH) is an elite residential high school for the emerging artists of South Carolina. It is located in Greenville, South Carolina. Students apply and audition to attend the residential high school or its summer programs, and they concentrate in either creative writing, dance, drama, music or visual arts. It is one of the most prestigious schools in the United States.[1]

The school began with summer programs in the early 1980s, spearheaded by founder Dr. Virginia Uldrick. The campus was built in 1998 after funds had been acquired from both the public and private sectors; the state legislature stipulated that funds raised by the school's Foundation equal those allocated by the state.

Boarding students live on campus and dedicate half of each school day to academic studies and half to pre-professional training in their art area.

The arts faculty are active in the fields they instruct. Students are selected for their program based on a number of criteria, differing for each area of artistic study. No tuition is charged for those who are qualified to attend, but each enrolled student is required to purchase a meal plan. Financial assistance is available. The Governor's School Foundation covers those curricular expenses not covered by state funding.

Among American high schools, The Governor's School has been ranked as high as 42nd by Newsweek Magazine. It consistently ranks in the top 500 high schools nation-wide.


In 1980, South Carolina's Governor Richard W. Riley issued an executive order establishing the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. It was held each summer as an intensive, state-funded arts enrichment program on the campus of Furman University.

Dr. Virginia Uldrich acted as the longtime director of the Furman-based summer program. She lobbied for the formation of a high school where a nine-month, residential program could be held, along with additional summer programs and teacher institutes. The state legislature agreed to directing $14,000,000 towards the building of the school if additional funds were raised from private donors.

In 1999, campus only partially completed, the school opened for its first academic year. The campus was named in Virginia Uldrich's honor, and she acted as the school's first president.


The campus sits on eight and a half acres above the Reedy River Falls Park in downtown Greenville, South Carolina on property that formerly belonged to Furman University. The campus includes an academic complex, an administration building, and the residence hall. The school also has two performance halls: Smith Recital Hall and the Sakas Theatre. Smith, which is located in the music building, is the site of most music performances, while Sakas is the site of all on-campus drama performances and guest speakers. There is also an outdoor amphitheater.

The campus is designed to emulate a Tuscan village.

The construction of the school and its campus is credited with inspiring the revitalization of Downtown Greenville's West End. After the opening of the Governor's School, the Reedy River Falls Park was revitalized and the west end of Greenville has since been dubbed the city's Arts District. The campus was designed by the Greenville-based firm Freeman & Major Architects. Freeman & Major Architects was the winner of the nation-wide design competition that was held in order to select an architect for the school.


The residential program accepts juniors and seniors. Exceptions are made for the art area of dance, which accepts any high school student that meets its requirements, and the music department, which accepts a small number of qualified sophomores each year.

Two-week summer programs in acting, creative writing, music and visual arts are available for rising ninth- and tenth-grade students. Summer Dance is a five-week program for students ranging from seventh through eleventh grades. Summer Dance is the only program currently available to out-of-state residents.

All students apply, audition and interview to gain acceptance. Applications include both academic and artistic teacher recommendations.


The mission of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities is to serve the artistically talented high school students of South Carolina through programs of pre-professional instruction in an environment of artistic and academic excellence. The school is a resource for all teachers and students in South Carolina.


The aim of the music department is to provide students with the resources and personal attention necessary for growth as individual performers. The curriculum centers around weekly one hour lessons with the student's private teacher, biweekly chamber music coaching, and large ensemble participation (Concertato string orchestra, wind ensemble, or Cantus chamber choir). Juniors, sophomores, and first year seniors take one hour of music theory four times a week while students in their senior year take a music history survey course. Music Theory students have the option of enrolling in AP Music Theory during the spring semester. In addition, all music students are required to participate in the Governor's School Choir to aid in the development of aural skills. Students can sign up for Friday recitals that are open to the outside community to perform solo or ensemble pieces on which they have been working.

Music students participate in many extracurricular events and competitions, including the Music Teachers National Association competition, National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, local concerto competitions, and All-State Orchestra, Band, and Chorus.

Guest artists include Eastman School of Music viola faculty member George Taylor, the American Brass Quintet, the contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird, Singing group Anonymous 4, violinist Nicola Benedetti, and lecturist Robert Blocker.

Graduates of the music department have gone on to attend such prestigious conservatories and universities as the Eastman School of Music, the Colburn School, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, New York University, Florida State University, Illinois State University, Duke University, Harvard University, Yale University, The Boston Conservatory, The New England Conservatory, University of North Texas, Syracuse University, American Musical and Dramatic Academy, University of South Carolina, Furman University, Appalachian State University, Converse College, Davidson College, and Northwestern University. They are consistently offered substantial scholarships for music and academics.

Creative writing[edit]

Creative writers are instructed by celebrated authors Scott Gould, George Singleton, Mamie Morgan, and visiting writer Ashley Warlick, author of "Seek the Living." Over the years the department has drawn the attention of Pulitzer prize winners John Patrick Shanley, Toni Morrison and Jorie Graham, in addition to other authors, such as Curtis Sittenfeld, Sharon Olds, Thomas Lux, Charles Baxter, Susan Orlean, and Alan Lightman.


The Drama program is an intensive acting program. Students are taught by professional actors who have experience both on the stage and the screen.

The program has had many guest artists including, playwright John Patrick Shanley (Doubt), actor Michael York (Austin Powers and The Three Musketeers), and actor Danny Hoch (HBO). More recent guest artists include Kathleen Turner, David Strathairn, and André DeShields. Daniel Murray and Jayce Tromsness make up the faculty for the drama department teaching Acting, Stage Combat, and Voice and Speech. Guest teachers include Rhonda Allen-Murray (Dance), Greg Walters (Singing), Monica Bell (Suzuki Method), Robert Francesconi (Mask), and Allison Moore (Playwriting).

  • Stage Combat
  • Suzuki Method
  • Stanislavski Method
  • Viewpoints
  • International Phonetic Alphabet
  • Voice and Speech
  • Acting
  • Scene Study
  • Shakespeare
  • Play Writing
  • Play Analysis
  • Singing
  • Theatre History
  • Dance
  • Physical Fitness

The drama department has sent students to every major acting conservatory in the United States, and has alums performing on both Broadway and the silver screen. These include Nicole Beharie, Patina Miller, Michelle Beck, and Teyonah Parris.


The dance department is chaired by Josée Garant who has an MFA in dance. Main focus is given to a strict interpretation of the Vaganova classical ballet technique.

Visual arts[edit]

Emerging visual artists attend this intensive two-year program to build on and develop artistic, conceptual and creative skills, as well as attain the discipline and confidence necessary to investigate their own imagery and self-expression. Students learn to relate and recognize art from diverse cultures and periods, and have exposure to studio practices in architecture, drawing, graphic design, metals, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. Critical thinking and aesthetic valuing are strengthened with group and individual critiques, problem solving assignments and jury reviews at the end of each semester.

Students work side-by-side with established artists and academics on Advanced Placement portfolios, AP Art History and intensive studio classes in preparation for higher education and ultimately careers in the arts. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work in student curated shows and in the school's Lipscomb Gallery. Students from this program are heavily recruited by top art schools from throughout the country as well as excellent college programs within the state.

The department is chaired by Joseph Thompson (sculpture, drawing faculty). Other visual arts faculty include: J. Ben Gilliam (metals, 3D design), Dana Howard (art history), Paul Yanko (painting), Axel Forrester (graphic design, drawing), Carlyn Tucker (photography, 2D design), Katya Cohen (printmaking), Alice Ballard (ceramics), and Sharon Campbell (ceramics).


The mean SAT score is approximately 200 points higher than the national average. Students have had great success in the postgraduate application process in the school's short history. Alumni are notable for having attended a wide array of prestigious colleges, conservatories, and universities.

Notable alumni[edit]

The South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities boasts several former students who have achieved relatively significant success in their fields, including:


External links[edit]