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Governors Honors Program life-changing for local students
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GHP spotlight

Throughout the next few weeks, there will be a spotlight on individual Governor's Honors Program nominees, along with several pictures of their experience and advice that they want to give to future GHP nominees.

Four weeks at a prestigious college to study the subject of your choice while interacting with students from across Georgia and enjoying concerts, plays and weekend dances? Yes, please.

Students from across Georgia were nominated in the fall of 2014 to attend the Governor's Honors Program at Valdosta State University for a free four-week summer session in June and July of 2015.

Several Hall County students were chosen to attend, and they have shared their experiences, ranging from classes on “Othello” to congregating on “The Magic Square,” a designated GHP entertainment area for the duration of the event.

Students attended GHP for several different academic subjects such as theater performance, communicative arts, vocals, any number of musical instruments, math, science, or a variety of languages, including Spanish and Chinese.

Students had to complete two applications that asked questions on their future goals, expectations for GHP and why they should be selected. After this, a small number of students from across Georgia were invited back for an interview and a display of talent, which ranged from writing an essay to performing a piece of music or an excerpt of a play for a panel of judges.

Students felt their experience was “incredulous.” It didn’t start out with frolicking in a field of daisies, however.

“At the start, I was full of anxiety and so nervous that I had thoughts of completely turning around and forgetting it almost happened,” said Brooke Blackwell, a Flowery Branch High School student nominated for voice.

Kelsey McQueen, a senior at Flowery Branch, shared a similar beginning.

“I was quite homesick and overwhelmed, and this definitely started out being an obviously negative thing,” she said. “However, I eventually found incredible friends and began loving my time in Valdosta and learned so much about communicative arts and music, but also, about truly being present wherever you are in life, a hugely positive thing.

Read a Q&A with Kelsey about her experience at GHP.

Students from Flowery Branch were well-represented, while some Hall County high schools had few or none make it through the final stage of the program. Chestatee High School sent two students, Zachary Morgan and Kayla Krauth to GHP.

Krauth said that for her, “The teachers each had their own quirks and ways of connecting with the students. I learned a lot about life simply by being surrounded by such supportive teachers and peers.”

East Hall High School did not have any attend the program this past summer.
Students were able to choose from two sessions, or classes offered in the field of nomination

For communicative arts, Krauth said students discussed “slam poetry, in which we wrote and performed pieces of slam, international world Congress, in which we debated the definitions of various words through differing viewpoints, (and) “Othello,” in which we focused on an in-depth analysis of the "evil" nature of the character Iago.

Those who attended also minored in a topic of their choice. While the minor was sometimes closely related to the major of the student, some chose to leave their comfort zone.

“I was a communicative arts major and a songwriting minor,” McQueen said. Students that minored in songwriting recorded and produced an album, which wrapped up the class at the end of the four weeks.

Concerts, impromptu jam sessions and studying on the Great Lawn encouraged a sense of community, and students are still talking about their experiences from the summer.

Read more in the next few weeks, as Young Edge spotlights individual GHP nominees, including several pictures of their experience and advice that they want to give to future GHP nominees.

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