Third time’s a charm: Highlands student accepted to all three Governor’s summer programs


Julianna Russ

Parker Cleveland, a junior, was recently accepted to all three Governor’s School opportunities offered in the state of Kentucky.

     Every year, a wide array of Highlands juniors take the leap and apply to the state’s most prestigious scholarship program. The Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP), the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA), and the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) are multi-week summer opportunities for students across Kentucky to come together and learn in a unique environment conducive to cultivating their chosen skills or academic interests. Students who complete these programs receive extensive college scholarship benefits within the state of Kentucky. 

     In order to apply to their chosen program, students are asked to complete extensive application materials detailing past work experience, extracurricular involvement, and leadership. Additionally, GSP only allows a set number of students to apply. Therefore, students must compete for an applicant spot within the school before moving on. The counselors choose the top nine candidates and send their applications to the state to be judged for final selection. While GSE and GSA are more self-paced, without a cap on how many can apply, selection is still very competitive.

     This application season proved fruitful for Highlands’ prospective scholars. Seven students were chosen for GSP, with two others chosen as alternates. One student was chosen for GSA, with two others being chosen as alternates. Four students were also chosen for GSE. 

     Amid all of these impressive new Governor’s Scholars, one student stands out. Junior Parker Cleveland did not only apply for all three programs, but he was selected by each of them as well. He was officially accepted into GSE for the summer, and he was chosen as an alternate by both GSA and GSP. 

     Cleveland said that his desire to apply started at the first informational meeting about the programs, which was hosted by the Highlands counseling department. 

     “We had a meeting for [GSP] in school one day, and it just caught my attention to be part of a group of like-minded people with that higher mentality in school.” He continued, “My dad teaches graphic design at another school, and he came to me about [GSA]. He knows several kids that have gotten into it, and he didn’t want me to waste an opportunity for a possible scholarship. In Mr. Poff’s film class, we’d been doing many different projects. I was intrigued by that program, and being able to create videos with other people of similar talent.”

     Cleveland also acknowledged the extensive application process, noting how early the GSP deadline was. When asked what he wished he would’ve known about the process, he pointed to the GSP application’s directions. 

     “The day I turned it into Mrs. Schnitzler, she told me I forgot to add some detail to one of the sections. I went home, she gave me the rest of the night to fix that, and it probably took me about five hours straight to finish.”

     The GSA application consisted of a portfolio submission, as well as a recommendation. Cleveland, who applied to the Film and Photography session, said that he spent countless hours honing his photography skills in order to build a sufficient portfolio. 

     “I started working on my photography skills because I hadn’t really done much photography. I had the film down, and I had my films from Mr. Poff’s class that I submitted. But I went out probably every other day and took photographs of things that caught my eye. It took about a month to compile the application.”

     Recommendations are one of the main components of all three applications, as students are evaluated on their academic, artistic, and personal character. 

     Throughout the application process for GSE, he relied upon some of the information from his GSP application to supplement his activities section. He also had to create a video for the GSE application detailing his interest in the program. 

      Cleveland’s achievement is not earned by many, as selection for any one of these three programs is competitive. Students are only allowed to attend one of the programs, even if they are accepted to multiple. Since Cleveland is an alternate for both GSP and GSA, he has ultimately decided to attend GSE this summer. 

     “I was already accepted to GSE, so that’s the one I’m going to go with. The other programs still have several months for people to decide whether they want to go or not, but I have to tell GSE [soon], so I don’t have time to wait.”

     Following a long application season, Cleveland is more excited than ever to reap the benefits of his hard work and embark on an entrepreneurial journey this summer with friends. 

     Current sophomores should stay on the lookout for information about applying to these programs, typically distributed during the fall of junior year.