Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies
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|Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies|
1000 North Lombardy Street
|School type||Public, magnet high school|
|Executive Director||Dr. Robert C. Lowerre|
|Color(s)||Green, Gold and White|
|Athletics conference||Virginia High School League|
AAA Central Region
AAA Colonial District
|Rivals||Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, New Horizons Governor's School for Science and Technology, Grafton High School (Virginia)|
|Focus Areas||Government & International Studies|
Maggie L. Walker High School
|Area||12 acres (4.9 ha)|
|Architect||Carneal, Johnston & Wright|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|NRHP reference #||98001160|
|Added to NRHP||September 9, 1998|
|Designated VLR||June 17, 1998|
One of the 18 Virginia Governor's Schools, it draws students from 13 jurisdictions: Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan, Prince George, Charles City, King and Queen, and New Kent counties, the cities of Richmond and Petersburg, and West Point, an incorporated town. As the Governor's School for Government and International Studies, it shared space at Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in the city's West End from its 1991 founding until summer 2001, when it moved into Maggie L. Walker High School after massive renovations. Every year since 2006 the school was recognized by Newsweek as one of the twenty-one most elite public schools in America. In 2013, Maggie Walker was ranked 14th in Newsweek's "Best Public High Schools"  In 2014, Maggie Walker was ranked 10th in The Daily Beast's "Best High Schools" and 7th in their "25 Best High Schools in the South."
Applicants undergo an application process in which four tests (three tests with three subsections each, one large test) and an essay are administered. A combination of grades, recommendations, and test results determine the applicants' overall score. All applicants must have completed and passed at least Algebra I or equivalent, and are expected if offered (but not necessarily required) to have completed Honors English, as well as Earth and Life Sciences, and at least one year of a foreign language, although it is not uncommon for incoming students to take their third or even fourth year of a language in their freshman year. On the other hand, many students begin language instruction in their freshman year. Overall, about 16-17% of applicants are acceptedA into MLWGSGIS out of a pool of around 1200 applicants from all the participating localities, making the freshmen class usually around 190 students. The school grades the applications, but it is the applicant's home school district that decides who is allowed to attend the school based on scores and available funding.
Each city or county that wishes to send students to the Governor's School must fund the school for the students that they send, as well as provide busing to and from the school. While the Governor's School allows allotments for each locality that cannot be exceeded, it is the individual localities that ultimately determine their own limit on how many students can be sent within the parameters of the allotment given and available funding. The Regional School Board of the Governor's School that oversees the administration comprises one school board member from each of the participating localities.
At its 1991 founding, the Governor's School for Government and International Studies was given the Thomas Jefferson High School building to share by Richmond Public Schools. The city school stopped accepting freshmen in 1991, intending to turn the building fully over to GSGIS by 1995. However, parents, students, and alumni of TJHS, as well as city politicians, protested the closing of their school, RPS reversed its decision, and in 1992 TJ started accepting freshmen again and GSGIS started looking for a permanent home.
After several years of false starts and administrative turnover, GSGIS finally obtained the Maggie Walker High School building, an abandoned former Richmond City school, as a permanent home. The original building, Maggie L. Walker High School, was first opened in the 1930s as a school for African-Americans. It was named for Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman and African-American to operate a bank in the United States and was once attended by American civil rights lawyer and politician Henry L. Marsh, African American tennis pro Arthur Ashe, as well as pro football Hall-of-Famer Willie Lanier, and NBA great Bob Dandridge. GSGIS took up occupancy in fall 2001 after several million dollars of renovations, the largest addition being a 35-foot dragon statue costing $43,800, and then adopted the name Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies, or MLWGSGIS for short, though commonly shortened further to MLWGS.
Today, MLWGSGIS is known for its academic record and high performance in scholastic competitions such as "We the People" and "Battle of the Brains." All academic classes are taught at an honors or higher level. A large percentage of Governor's School seniors are accepted into the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and a number of other well-respected universities, including many in the Ivy League and Federal Service Academies. The class of 2013 received over $14 million in merit-based scholarships for 178 senior students. Students perform well above the national and state average on the SAT, with scores averaging 2146 for the Class of 2014.
In keeping with the school's name, which indicates a focus on government and international interests, the school offers AP courses in American History, European History, American and Comparative Government, Micro and Macro Economics, Psychology, and Human Geography, and has received awards for high scores on the American History AP Test. In addition, the school offers 2 AP English courses, 2 AP Calculus courses (AB and BC), several university post-calculus math classes such as Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra, and a variety of science classes including AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics and AP Environmental Science, as well as Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics, Forensic Chemistry, Meteorology, Astronomy, Biopsychology (dual enrollment), and Introduction to Engineering (dual enrollment).
Students are required to have a total 4 years of a primary language, and 2 years of another to make up 6 total years of foreign language instruction. Credits can be earned before freshman year, ie. a student who takes spanish 1 and 2 in middle school receives 2 language credits in Spanish going into freshman year.Five foreign languages are offered through a 4-year, 5 year, or AP level, including French, German, Spanish, Latin, and Chinese. Japanese, Italian, Russian, American Sign Language, and Arabic are taught in a two- or three-year sequence. Many students take courses that are two or three years ahead of their grade level. In order to provide adequate course offerings, the administration also offers a plethora of Dual Enrollment courses through Virginia Commonwealth University.
The school's seniors also conduct either a mentorship or seminar class during their senior year. Seminars are focused classes which are founded on student interest, and some are taught by visiting university faculty. They range in topics including international law, economics, military history, photojournalism, food preparation, and more. The mentorship program provides Maggie Walker seniors the opportunity to use class time to work at a local business with an expert in a field that interests them. Mentorship students log a minimum of 115 hours at their mentorship site, working at places such as The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Democratic campaign offices, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, art galleries, bakeries, VCU Medical Center, or Virginia Commonwealth University. Both mentorship and seminar students conduct scholarly research throughout the year dealing with their mentorship or seminar, and this research is presented at the end of the year during the school's annual senior showcase.[better source needed]
To foster community improvement efforts, all Governor's School students are required to complete 140 hours of community service by graduation. School clubs frequently participate in neighborhood cleanup projects. In order to receive a Governor's School diploma, all community service and credits must be completed. The 2008 graduating class completed over 34,500 community service hours.
MLWGS competes in the AAA East in AAA Conference 33 of the Virginia High School League. Previously the school was in the AA Colonial District, but at the end of the 2019 season was moved up to AAA due to a growing student population. The school fields teams in basketball, dance, volleyball, wrestling, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming, field hockey, cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field, baseball, and softball; only football is omitted from the offerings of a traditional public high school. The school mascot is the Green Dragon, adopted from the former Maggie L. Walker High School. In 2001, the boys' cross country team won the state AAA championship, led to victory by head coach Jim Holdren. In 2010, the Maggie Walker girls' cross country team became the state runner-up in the AAA championship. The Maggie Walker Cross country boys and girls teams won the 2019 cross country AAA State Competition in their respective groups. In 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 the field hockey team won the colonial district championship. In 2008 the team was the central region runner-up to rival Thomas Dale, which qualified the team to go to states for the first time in 3 years. In 2010 and 2011 the team won the Central Region Championship and once again played in the State Tournament. In 2013-14 The Boys' and Girls' Cross Country Teams won first place in their respective AA sections and so did the Boys' and Girls' indoor Track teams. The Boys' Outdoor Track team also won First in that season. Also, the Girls' Swim team won their section in 2013-14. In 2015-2016, the Baseball team finished in 3rd at the AA state tournament to go along with a team record 17 wins, while the Girls' Soccer team finished 2nd. Swim team again won VHSL championships in 2017, this time both in the Boys' and Girls' categories. In 2017, the Baseball team captured the AA state crown, defeating rival Goochland 3-1. In 2017, Boys' soccer won the school's first VHSL 2A Boys' Soccer State Championship, ending the season on a dominant 9 game winning streak that firmly asserted the program's spot in the top-tier of the Richmond area soccer.
Beginning in 2014, the Men's Tennis Team has established Maggie Walker as a dominant tennis school. The team won three consecutive state titles, from 2014-2016. On April 18, 2016, for the first time in school history, the team defeated local rival Mills E. Godwin, 5-4, as well as Douglas S. Freeman High School.
Prior to the school's move to the Maggie Walker building, Governor's School students participated in the athletic program of host Thomas Jefferson High School, and shared TJ's Viking mascot and red/white official colors. As it became clear by 1997-98 that GSGIS students made up a majority or near-majority of participants in all offerings but football and boys' basketball, the teams in all but those two sports were officially designated Thomas Jefferson/Governor's School (TJ/GS) by the VHSL until GSGIS's move. MLWGS does not have a football team, despite being the only Richmond area school with a graduate in the NFL Hall of Fame, linebacker Willie Lanier, although he played before the school was shut down and then reopened as a magnet school.
Governor's School is home to many student clubs and activities, ranging from politically oriented clubs and Model United Nations to a Red Cross Club, as well as languages groups.
- We the People – The Maggie Walker We the People team is one of the school's oldest and most successful organizations, having taken first every year it has competed at States and routinely finishing in the Top Ten at Nationals. Taught as a course offering, We the People instruction prepares students to argue over major constitutional questions in American history before a panel of judges. Only seniors are allowed to apply (with the exception of the 2011-12 team, which also accepted juniors), with about half of applicants selected to join the team. It won first place at the 2017 We the People National Championships.[better source needed]
|Year||State Competition||National Competition||Coach|
- Chess Club – First place in the Greater Richmond High School Chess League (GRHSCL), March 2013. First place in the Virginia High School Chess League (VHSCL), 2013 and 2018. Virginia Scholastic & Collegiate Chess Championships (K–12): Third place (March 2013), First place U1400 (March 2018, 2019). Second place U1200 U.S. National Scholastic Chess Championships in 2018. The team also has multiple top-5 individual finishes at states, and several top-20 finishes at nationals. The Chess team also hosts the annual Dragon Chess Camp and monthly clinics for students in the community.
- Battle of the Brains (Academic Quiz Bowl Team) – Four national championship years (NAC 1995, PACE 2004, PACE and NAQT 2007, NAQT 2010) and several other top 10 finishes in national competition. In the Virginia High School League, 10 of 11 Colonial District Scholastic Bowl championships, 10 of 11 Central Region titles, and three state championships. In 2006–2007, the team was voted #1 in the country by a poll of coaches and players. The team validated that ranking by winning two national championship tournaments.
- National History Bowl Champions in its inaugural year.
- Model UN – Consistently ranked as one of the top high school teams in the nation. Hosts GSMUN, an annual conference that regularly raises over $10,000 for charity partners and has featured prominent keynote speakers.
- Model Congress - Multiple Individual and Team Awards.
- FIRST Robotics Competition Team 422, the Mech Tech Dragons
Robotwise: The school has been attending competitions every year since they were started in 2000. Although many of their achievements from over a decade ago have been long forgotten, they won the NASA Langley / VCU Regional Event in 2002. They won the 2018 Northern Virginia event as well as winning the 2018 Chesapeake District Championship.
They have won numerous awards over the years, including two instances of the Driving Tomorrow's Technology award, two of the Judges’ Award, a Quality Award, a Coopertition Award, an Innovation in Control Award, a Gracious Professionalism Award, two of the Industrial Design Award, a Safety Award as well as being a Safety runner-up at Worlds, five Entrepreneurship Awards, an Engineering Inspiration Award, and two of the Chairman's Award, the most prestigious award in FIRST.
They have qualified for the World Championship in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Teamwise: (as of 2016) They have started 3 FLL teams, and awarded financial assistance to over 70 teams over the past three years as well as helping 130 in the last 5. They annually hold the largest FLL competition in central Virginia with over 500 attendants; their last event in 2017 was the seventeenth so far. They have mentored 15 FLL teams, reaching over 120 students. They have helped start 8 FTC teams and donated over $1,300 in sustainability grants, and have revived 2 FRC teams.
- The Behind the Rock Wall Club
- Debate team – In the last 11 years, Maggie Walker has placed first in the state CFL debate tournament. The team currently competes in two categories: Lincoln Douglas debate and Public Forum debate. Every year, several students place in the top-5 at the state tournament and qualify to compete at the national level.
- Fishing Club - The club was the recipient of a substantial VDGIF grant in 2016, making it one of the school's most well endowed clubs.
- Foreign Affairs Club – Members discuss foreign affairs and foreign policy in a roundtable setting.
- National High School Fed Challenge
- Governor's Economics Challenge - In 2018, the team placed second in the Adam Smith Division at the state competition. In 2019, the team won its first state championship, qualifying to participate in the National Economics Challenge semifinals testing.
- Appalachian Heritage Music Club
- Math Modeling – Top high school in the world with fifteen "National Outstanding" awards in the COMAP High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling, two winning teams in the undergraduate-level Mathematical Contest in Modeling, and two winning teams in the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (also undergraduate-level). In 2010, a team of five students also won 3rd place and a $10,000 scholarship in the Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge in their first year of competition.
- Drama Club – In 2008, the school was awarded First Place For Acting by the Virginia High School League for Edward Albee's The Zoo Story. They won the same award again the following year for David Ives' Degas C'est Mois and again in 2012 for Philip Moeller's play Helena's Husband.
- Life Smarts – In 2010 and 2013, the Maggie L. Walker Life Smarts team won the Virginia State Championships.
- Technology Student Association (TSA )- Top high school chapter in the state 1999–2000, multiple individual and team awards thereafter
- Scholastic Art and Writing Awards - Maggie Walker Students brought home the most regional awards of any Richmond area high school, and in the 2013 awards Maggie Walker had 6 national award winners including a Gold Medal and an American Visions Medal.
- Photography Club
- Language clubs, such as Russian , Spanish, French, and Japanese, among others.
MLWGSGIS is in a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), meaning that students can earn college credit for certain "dual enrollment" high school classes. This also allows MLWGSGIS students access to VCU's library system.
- Emmanuel Pratt '95, urban designer & 2019 MacArthur Fellow
- Sara Schaefer '96, Emmy award-winning writer and comedian
- Colin Van Ostern '96, politician
- Mohammad Alavi (game developer) '98
- Jenny Han '98, New York Times bestselling author
- Jillian Johnson '99, Mayor Pro Tempore for the City of Durham, North Carolina
- Jamey Stegmaier '99, founder of Stonemaier Games and designer of Scythe (board game)
- Esther Erb '04, long-distance runner
- Marguerite Bennett '06, comic book writer
- Will Roberts '08, former minor league baseball pitcher
- Cheta Emba '11, rugby union player
- Lucy Dacus '13, musician
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