Three Kingsport high school students begin TN Governor’s School for the Arts program

A month-long summer residency program is underway for high school students gifted in music, visual arts, theatre, dance and filmmaking at the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts welcomed these talented students from every geographical region of Tennessee for their first day of the 2019 session on Saturday. 

Three young women attending this year are from the the Kingsport, Tennessee area. 

For Dobyns-Bennett rising junior Audrey Jones, her journey to the Governor’s School began by word of mouth from some of her high school friends.

“I just thought that sounds like something cool and I wasn’t really sure what to major in for college,” said Jones. “I decided that may be a good experience to see if I did want to major in music.”

Each January, around 1,400 students audition for the 230 available scholarships to attend the school. 

Now, Jones, a member of the Dobyns-Bennett Symposia, will join two other Kingsport area students this summer as members of a select few.

Abigail Combs, a rising senior and member of the Dramahawks at Dobyns-Bennett, will be one of them.

Combs also performs in shows at Theatre Bristol in downtown Bristol, Tennessee.

She is going to the Governor’s School after hearing about it from her drama teacher at school and is hoping to learn more skills in theatre.

“At first I didn’t know that so many people auditioned for it and that they only picked 30 was just a big deal,” said Combs. “You get to meet people from all over the state, I’m just really excited.”

“It’s very humbling and it’s very amazing to think about and it still blows my mind,” said Eliza Sanders, a student at Sullivan South High School.

Sanders is a member of the Southern Belles dance team and also part of musical theatre at Sullivan South High School. 

She will be attending the Governor’s School for dance.

“They’re very technical down there,” said Sanders, “so, I hope to learn new techniques from different teachers and be able just to learn from their style and their creativity.”

Besides the wealth of knowledge the girls will tap into during their month-long stay, they will also have the opportunity to connect with other talented students from across the state. 

“It’s good to know, but also that you have people in there that are in your local area,” said Combs. “All the arts [students], they get to meet up together and we get to meet up.”

Since 1985, more than 7,000 students have had the opportunity to attend the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.

“It makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something,” said Jones, “When adults always tell you that you can be anything you want to be, I never really felt that that was true, but now that is true to a certain extent.”

The 2019 program for the Governor’s School for the Arts will run until June 22. 

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