The Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School will create a collaborative learning community for academically motivated high school students that emphasizes service, leadership and the development of skills necessary for success in the 21st century, with an instructional focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

BRVGS Address:

14455 James Madison Hwy. Palmyra, Va 22963

Blog Index
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2014 TEDxCharlottesville Event Inspires BRVGS Students

“Amazing” and “inspiring” are the descriptions that BRVGS students repeatedly give after spending November 14, 2014 soaking up “Ideas Worth Spreading” at the 2nd annual TEDxCharlottesville Reflexions program.

“TEDx was absolutely amazing and mind-blowing! I learned so much about so many topics ranging from how to cross the Sahara on camels to the NSA’s breach of Americans’ 4th amendment rights,” remarked Emily Butterworth. She added that it gave her inspiration for her current senior project. “...if a Western Albemarle County senior can create a test strip to detect date-rape drugs in a drink, then I can definitely create news broadcasts for my school.”

The TEDx event combines video, live speakers, and performers to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The local independently-organized TEDx program is part of the TED nonprofit organization (Technology, Entertainment, Design), started in California 25 years ago to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

One of the students’ favorite speakers of the day was Peter Agelasto. “He discussed a mind-blowing phenomenon: that everything around us - nature, man-made objects, and even our minds - is constantly recording and one day humans will develop the technology needed to play back all these recordings,” explained Shannon Blow.

Christopher Tomasello enjoyed hearing Dr. John Herr, cell biologist, talk about new developments in cancer research. “He described how a newly discovered protein is only expressed in some tumorous cells and developed egg cells...and how a new drug could be used [to attack that specific protein] to fight off cancers,” Christopher said. 

Students also noted the talk by Dr. Greg Fairchild, a UVa Darden Business School professor who discussed empowering underserved populations, and the performance by John D’Earth, jazz musician and composer. Other speakers included author Dean King, celebrated landscape designer Thomas Woltz, and Ghislaine Maxwell, founder of the non-profit TerraMar Project organized to protect the ocean commons.


BRVGS students expressed appreciation to Director Marc Carraway for the opportunity to attend TEDxCharlottesville. The positive impact was not lost on Michael Phillips. “It was full of people and ideas that have the ability to change the world, and they were all truly inspired me to do good in the world, and I wish everyone was able to experience such an event.”

Kara Fincham walked away with a favorite quote from the Holistic Life Foundation talk: “You never know what fruits will bloom from the seeds that you plant.”

The program touched Abby Whitlock, as well. “I absolutely loved it! It was one of the most inspiring things I have experienced in my entire life.”

More information about TEDxCharlottesville can be obtained by visiting the website  

BRVGS students from Louisa County gather on the Downtown Mall following the day-long TEDxCharlottesville program on November 14, 2014.



BRVGS Senior Dylan Schaff Recognized for Athletics, Academics & Character: "It's a balance...Work before play"


BLAST Summer Program Open to Current BRVGS 9th Graders


BRVGS 9th grade students have an opportunity to participate in a free program for the summer of 2015 on the campus of the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech engaged in hands-on STEM activities and demonstrations led by experienced faculty members.

The Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST) program is designed to attract students who are motivated to learn in the STEM arena. Students will be involved in a variety of areas such as mechanical engineering, space science, astronomy, chemistry, and more. Some of the activities include:

  • Solar car construction

  • Robot design/build to complete missions on a Martian landscape

  • Design and test insulation materials

  • Earthquake Resistance Structures

  • Engine Dissection

  • Advanced Engineering Lab

  • Tours and celestial observations

Interested students and parents may obtain more program information and an online application by going to the BLAST website .  The deadline for application is February 2, 2015. The program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Any questions regarding participation may be directed to BRVGS Director Marc Carraway,



Travel Back in Time with BRVGS Senior Abby Whitlock

What was it like to journey on the R.M.S. Lusitania across the Atlantic, and walk along the streets of London in 1911? Just ask BRVGS senior Abby Whitlock, who investigated primary sources and created a museum exhibit based on her research.

Over the summer, Abby examined artifacts at the Sargeant Museum of Louisa County History. These included a notebook with letters by a Miss Emma Wood and other documents about the R.M.S. Lusitania and sites around London. The ill-fated Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915.

Abby’s museum exhibit showcases details from her study. She will deliver a companion presentation about Trans-Atlantic travel on the eve of World War I at the museum on November 22, 10 a.m.- noon. 

The early 20th century era, and First World War in general, will be Abby's focus of study in college. She is currently a senior at Louisa County High School.




BRVGS Seniors Support Important Causes Through Community Service

As senior students of Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School go into the community service phase of their BRVGS senior projects, many have embarked on fundraising efforts for a wide range of causes.  

Caitlin Shilan of Madison County High School will be fundraising for the American Steeplechase Injured Jockeys Fund at the Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, Nov 1st.  She will host a tent at the races with educational materials, activities, and opportunities to meet jockeys.  If you are at the races, please check that out!

In Louisa,Noah Jones and Tyson Smith are combining efforts to put on “Slam N' Jam,”  a fundraising event for the Louisa Arts Center.  “Slam N' Jam” will combine a basketball tournament and concert, and will take place January 17, 2015 from 4pm-10pm at the Betty Queen Center at 522 Industrial Drive, Louisa, Virginia 23093.  The Twitter and Instagram names for the event are @slamnjam_2015 and the Facebook event is titled "Slam N' Jam 2015."

Devon Burger of Fluvanna is working to bring the Wildlife Center of Virginia into Fluvanna elementary schools, and is funding that effort through a “Go Fund Me” site at

Please check back here or on our Facebook page for updates on the efforts of our students to support a wide range of important causes!