This seems very intense to me. I signed the permission form because my son really wants to be involved in this program, but I feel ill-at-ease. I know he's very smart, but now the term "gifted" is being thrown around and quite honestly I find it intimidating. Do you have any advice for me?
Where I came to a halt in your question was "peer nomination." Kids get to pick other kids they think are bright students? Second-graders shouldn't be making this decision -- it could turn into a popularity contest, and I hope this part of the evaluation isn't being given much weight.
Don't be intimidated just yet by all this discussion of giftedness. Your son is still the same smart little guy you've always known. If he's admitted to the GATE program, we've got lots of good information on this website to help you make good educational and parenting decisions for him. Good luck.