Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts

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Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts
TypeResidential Public
MottoLatin: Carpe diem
(Seize the Day)
DirectorDouglas Woods
Grades11th and 12th
Enrollmentabout 200
CampusMercyhurst College

The Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts (PGSA) was one of the Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence, a group of five-week summer academies for gifted high school students in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The school was hosted each summer by Mercyhurst College. PGSA was defunded by Pennsylvania's 2009–2010 state budget.


Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts was established earliest among eight such Governor's schools. Like other Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence, PGSA operated on a state-funded, scholarship basis.[1] Upon its inception in 1973, PGSA was hosted at Bucknell University in Lewisburg under the direction of Arthur Gatty, who led the program until 1988.[2][3] In 1990, the program was relocated to Mercyhurst College in Erie. The most recent program director was Douglas Woods, an English teacher in the Butler Area school district. Only residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were permitted to participate in the program. Additionally, only applicants rising to 11th or 12th grades of high school were considered. Students were required to live in dormitories for the full five weeks of the program. Admission into the program was extremely competitive—annually, approximately 2000 students competed through a rigorous three-step process, for 200 spots in the program. Similar to a college experience, students took various classes associated with a "major" in one of five art areas: creative writing, dance, music, theater, or visual arts.[4][5] In addition to these classes, students selected an elective class in an art area other than their primary. Collaboration and multifaceted projects were encouraged and common. Alongside classes, nightly performances and gallery shows combined with a broad range of social activities and special events to create a unique experience similar to that of an artists' colony.

Mr. Woods often emphasized that the goals of PGSA were to create an environment where gifted students could learn and grow as artists, audience members, and advocates for the Arts. He adopted Mercyhurst's motto, Carpe diem, or Seize the Day, as a motto for the summer program.

Major Art Areas[edit]

Creative Writing[edit]




Visual Arts[edit]



Governor Ed Rendell's 2009–2010 budget proposed cutting funding for all the schools in the PGSE program, including PGSA.[6][7][8] The program was discontinued in 2009, after 36 years of operation.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Seltzer, Joan. A Historical Overview of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. 2012
  2. ^ "Arthur Gatty Obituary". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  3. ^ Maulfair, Jane (1985-08-11). "Governor's School For The Arts Attracts Talented Youth". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  4. ^ "The Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence".
  5. ^ "PGSE - Arts". The Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20.
  6. ^ "Rendell previews budget plan". Altoona Mirror. Retrieved 2016-06-29. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. ^ "Rendell's state budget a solid start". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  8. ^ Lindquist, Carl (2009-01-30). "DARE program targeted for cuts". The York Dispatch. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  9. ^ Kamin, Hester (2009-03-04). "Letters to the editor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  10. ^ "York County native Neal Dodson comes to York to present his company's first movie, 'Margin Call' -". 2011-11-16. Archived from the original on 2014-11-28.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°06′19″N 80°03′14″W / 42.10528°N 80.05396°W / 42.10528; -80.05396