Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) welcomed 29 outstanding high school seniors to the historic home of the Kentucky Derby on Thursday, Nov. 13 to recognize the accomplishments of those students as members of the “Class of 2014” of  Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars (“CDGS”) program.

Each of the students – one from each legislative district in Jefferson County – participated in the overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (“KGSP”) on one of three Kentucky college campuses between their junior and senior years, and the participation of each was funded by Churchill Downs and its parent company, Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”). The corporate partnership between Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program, now in its 14th year, is unique in that all students who participate in the Churchill Downs program must have overcome personal challenges or adversity to become high achievers in both their personal lives and the classroom.

The overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program, a public/private partnership launched in 1983, places outstanding students from across the state on one of three Kentucky college campuses in the summer prior to their senior year for five weeks of experiences designed to enhance their role as the state’s next generation of civic and economic leaders.

Members of the CDGS 2014 “Class of 2014” were accompanied at the reception by parents, guardians, relatives, friends and teachers and administrators from their respective schools.

“In the true spirit of partnership, Churchill Downs joined us and the end of 2000, and we celebrated our first group of Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars shortly before Kentucky Derby Day in 2001,” said Dr. Aris Cede?o, executive director of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program. “I want to thank everyone who has helped make this long-lasting partnership with Churchill Downs possible.”

"GSP, in general, opened my eyes as to what people are and what they can be, and what you can be within yourself,” said Shalonte’ Dynise Branham, a Central High School senior who experienced the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program on the campus of Murray State University. “I ended up making five of the best friends I’ve ever had … I found out I could be a friend and have a friend, and still feel smart after that.”

“It was a wonderful experience,” said Gene Aaron Clark, III, a senior at Butler Traditional High School. “This program is the best five weeks I’ve ever had.”

Including the 29 students in the CDGS Class of 2014, a total of 428 students have participated in the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars since 2001 through funding provided by its unique partnership with Churchill Downs.

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