Lost Souls of Magnet: Where Are They Now? (GSSM Edition)

ex-Raptors Spreading Their Wings at Governor’s School of Science and Math

Today’s issue will cover some sorely missed faces around the Magnet, Paulo Hitopoulos, Grant Keiser, and Briggs Murray. These three started their high school journey as class of 2023 Raptors before flying the nest early. Today, their wings have taken them to Hartsville, South Carolina, where they attend the Governor’s School for Science and Math (GSSM). I reached out to these former students to gain insight to their lives post-Raptor nest. 

First off, Grant Keiser. In 2019, Grant quickly gained notoriety on the Academic Magnet campus, as there was a lot of buzz around the “11-year-old freshman.” During the hit piece Introducing the Class of 2023, Grant was first introduced to the student body-at-large as a smart, witty freshman. Known for his punny shirts and easy-going nature, today, he has spread his Raptor wings at GSSM.

Discussing his motivation to pursue an education at GSSM, Grant stated, “I was intrigued by the higher level courses and electives offered at GSSM, along with the freedom to take whatever courses I wanted. My sister attended GSSM before me and loved it, and so I decided to go there as well.” Concerning living in Hartsville, Grant reflects how, “Hartsville is a much smaller town than Charleston is and certainly less interesting. Compared to Charleston, which has so many amazing attractions (almost everything in downtown), the extent of what is in Hartsville is a few restaurants.”

Grant’s introduction to the student body in 2019.

Grant reveals how, “Magnet is a much more AP focused school than GSSM is, and the scheduling is more strict. GSSM [uses] a college-like course schedule- instead of being in school for 7 hours every day, [I’m] in classes only about 2-5 hours depending on the day of the week. Classes are normally 3 times a week and meet for one hour. And while I do have a lot more homework than I did at magnet, I probably spend similar amounts of time every day doing school related work.” Grant is only required to take English this year, and describes how his favorite part of GSSM is “the wide variety and specificity of electives offered. This year I’m taking a course in nonlinear dynamics and another in abstract algebra. I have friends that are taking classes in genetics, artificial intelligence, number theory, and more.”

Grant today


Besides the low-quality food, which Grant admits is “pretty bad,” Governor’s School sounds like an overwhelmingly positive experience. However, Grant admits that he does hold some nostalgia for Academic Magnet. According to Grant, “One thing I miss about magnet is my history teacher, Mrs. Zerbst. Admittedly, I have never been particularly interested in history, but her class made me very enthusiastic about it, and I enjoyed getting an in-depth understanding of the past. I certainly don’t miss the commute [to Magnet]- I used to spend 3-4 hours every day on the bus. Since I now pretty much live at school, my commute just consists of a short 2 minute walk to class.” 


Next up, Briggs Murray. Briggs describes how he “was really hesitant to leave Magnet at first,” but couldn’t pass up the academic opportunities and class choices Governor’s School offered. Briggs reports that, “Hartsville is really a new scene for me: I’ve never lived in a small town before, so it’s been a real adjustment. However, everything is SUPER walkable now, which I’m really happy about.” Reflecting on his time at the Magnet, Briggs contemplates how, “I really miss the sports games — they were always so much fun to attend, and the Governor’s School doesn’t have many games to go to except for volleyball, basketball, and competitive figure skating. What I DON’T miss about Magnet are the classes. There were almost no electives and very little academic freedom at Magnet to pursue areas that I actually enjoy and am passionate about. At the Governor’s School I have so much freedom it’s almost dangerous: I can take basically any class you can think of!”

Briggs Murray

His favorite part of Governor’s School is “DEFINITELY the culture. The Governor’s School has a very strong culture and school identity that I really appreciate. My favorite example of this is the social obligation to ‘get Deen’d,’ named after a renowned and belovèd alumnus named Deen (graduated 2001). Deen, before the first major Modern Physics test of the year, consumed a made-from-scratch energy drink he dubbed ‘The Pablo’ and used The Pablo’s energy to study while pulling an all-nighter. And legend has it that, because he Deen’d himself, he scored a 101/100. So now, in order to score a high grade on their first test every junior makes their own energy drink (generally by hand-grinding coffee beans with one of the school’s 3 mortar & pestles, although I’ve also heard of more unorthodox methods being used) to help them pull an all-nighter before their first test. When I got Deen’d myself, I ground WAYYY too many beans at once; in fact, I actually broke the mortar & pestle I was using 😢. But at least I got a 95 on my test!”


Paulo as an up-and-coming Raptor

Our final Governor’s School Raptor: Paulo Hitpoulos. Paulo shares, “There were a number of reasons why I chose to leave, but I suppose there are 3 standout reasons: I did not need to take 4 foreign language classes, I could skip precal, and there were a lot of interesting electives that I could take. My next semester has like 7 electives, and all of them (astronomy, neuroscience, wild calculus, music theory, etc.)  are really interesting.” When asked about life outside of Charleston, Paulo responded that “Hartsville is a lot smaller with much less to do, but it has a lot of hart. It is clear that all the people care about GSSM, and there is never a dull moment in Hartsville. One scary thing though is an urban legend of ‘Whistlin’ Pete.’ Basically, if you hear shrill whistling in the dead of night that keeps getting closer, you better start running.” Yikes.

Paulo today, hitting his stride at GSSM.


When Paulo’s not running from Whistlin’ Pete, he has Magnet on his mind (at least sometimes). He lists his fellow Raptors as what he misses most, but says “the food is slightly better at GSSM (especially their signature dish, Fran’s big chicken), and I do not really miss Magnet food.” Regardless, Paulo is thriving at GSSM and shared a tradition he loves, “‘Deen and Jean’ (named after Deen, who graduated in ‘01), where people gather in the movie room, drink 4 million scoville hot sauce (called ‘the Telaak’), and sing Billie Jean.”

As a final reflection, Paulo shares, “[GSSM] has another common phrase: ‘when cutting the lawn, ensure the horse can still jump,’ which I feel like just about everyone here lives by. Basically, people have as much fun as they can, but at the end of the day, they still put their all into work as well. I feel like I did not live by this before going to GSSM, but the school has really improved my work ethic drastically.”

Thank you to Grant, Briggs, and Paulo for giving us insight to life outside the Raptor nest!

To read about more ex-Raptors, see here.