Capito: You are our future

Nearly 60 9th-grade students ended an eventful, two-week learning experience Saturday in Green Bank.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., addressed some of the brightest students and their parents at graduation for the West Virginia Governor’s School for Mathematics and Science. The group spent their time working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Capito congratulated those completing the program and encouraged them to continue their hard work.

“I just want to say how proud I am that there are so many of you who are interested in math, science, engineering and technology,” Capito said. “As you know, globally, we need to compete, and you are our future.”

Capito said she would be touring the facility and talking with those working there.

“This is an absolutely beautiful facility and we need to make sure that we keep it, enhance it and make sure it grows,” Capito said. “It has not only great significance to West Virginia, but also the country and the world. I am going to learn more about this facility.”

“Congratulations to the students and your parents,” Capito added. “I know that 9th grade is a wonderful time. Thanks for letting me be a part of this. Good luck. Keep plugging along and stay in the science field. We need you – we need you to be the best and brightest brains for the future of our country and our state.”

Sue Ann Heatherly, education officer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said the Governor’s School is hard and it really stretches everyone who attends. Heatherly said 2013 is the 9th year for the school at the observatory and that it already has been scheduled there again for 2014. She said that the main emphasis during the week was for students to use the 40-foot diameter telescope to conduct research in small teams.

“We have enjoyed your children very much,” Heatherly said “We are really happy with everything they have accomplished in the last two weeks. We have grown together from our knowledge of mushrooms to how to get up in the middle of the night when your brain is telling you that you need more sleep, to the world’s largest steerable telescope. These kids know how to write scripts to control the (Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope) GBT. They did it and did it successfully.”

Heatherly said attendees with the Governor’s School conducted themselves in a very professional manner.

“The students did very well with their final presentations,” Heatherly said. “They sounded like staff here at the observatory or an astronomer from a college. I am really proud of all they accomplished in the last two weeks. They were also just fun to be around.”

Dr. Karen O’Neil, director at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said she enjoys having the Governor’s School at the Observatory.

“It’s always an incredible pleasure to have the Governor’s School kids here,” O’Neil said. “I don’t think the parents know how much of a special treat it is for our staff. They get well involved with the students. Having them come for two full weeks means we get to know them better. They are a blast to watch.”

Governor’s School participant Martha Ball said she really enjoyed her two weeks in the program. Martha is from Athens in Mercer County and will enter 9th grade at Pikeview High School.

“I learned about bugs and the sun, moon and radio waves,” she said. “My math teacher gave me the application form to be a part of Governor’s School. He said he thought I would do really well and have fun. Everything here was so much fun and I am glad to have the opportunity to participate.”

Students arrived from around the state at Governor’s School on July 28 and spent two weeks doing research in radio astronomy with the help of NRAO scientists and GSMS teachers and mentors from around the country. Students also studied water quality, electronics and digital image processing. They also had the opportunity for outdoor recreation, informal seminars and special events.

Additional information about the West Virginia Governor’s School for Mathematics and Science is available online at