HUNTINGTON — For the second year in a row, Marshall University is hosting the West Virginia Governor's Honors Academy for high school students from across the state.

The theme for this year's three-week program, which began June 30 and runs through July 20, is "Your Silent World." The theme is aimed at inspiring the 154 participating students from 39 counties to learn more about "giving a voice to the voiceless," said Cara Bailey, Yeager coordinator for Marshall and co-dean for the 2019 academy.

"The idea is to highlight certain areas in our lives where the answer may not be obvious or easily obtainable," Bailey said. "We hope to help students develop in certain areas in which they can use their voices and the tools they have to help advocate for marginalized communities."

In addition to taking two courses each day - one intensive and one more broad - students have also participated in a community day of action helping families of sick children at Huntington's Ronald McDonald House and animals at the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter, Bailey said.

The classes feature a variety of subjects, including humanities, fine arts and math, sciences and technology, she said. The classes are taught by 15 individuals of various backgrounds and professions chosen by GHA, including several Marshall faculty members. Some of the classes offered to students include: Best Discoveries Leading to the Potential of Your Silent Self; Courts and Democracy; Music and Power from Beethoven to Beyonce; Revitalizing Appalachia through Public Art Initiatives; Rights, Wrongs and In Betweens; Breaking the Silence: Noise, Popular Music and Political Advocacy; How do We Know what We Know?; A Crash Course in Coding; Symbolic Logic, Competition Math and the Math of Casinos; and Today vs. Tomorrow: The Inevitability of Change and the Role of Creative Destruction.

This Saturday, students will take a trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, to learn about the history of slavery, abolishment and the fight for freedom. While in Ohio, students also will visit Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center and spend a day at King's Island to temporarily relax from their efforts, Bailey said.

Monday morning, students participating in the academy met and spoke with Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Bailey said, and during their discussion, Williams told the students they were "not the future leaders of West Virginia," but rather "the leaders of West Virginia now."

"That was something very empowering for the students to hear," she said. "He showed them they have a voice, and they have tools they can use to change their communities."

Governor's schools like GHA and the Governor's School for the Arts, which has also been hosted by Marshall for the past three years, provide students and community leaders valuable opportunities to meet with and learn about each other and each other's backgrounds and homes, Bailey said. Marshall will host the Governor's Honors Academy again next year.

"This academy and the other governor's schools are so important because they bring these students together," she said, "and you can really see this beautiful exchange of ideas and growth in all of them."

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