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Q&A with Flowery Branch High student Brooke Blackwell, who attended GHP
Brooke Blackwell poses for a picture with roommate Julie and hall resident assistant Hannah.

What did you attend GHP for?

I attended GHP for voice.

How was your experience (positive or negative)?

My entire experience turned out to be even more positive than I had originally thought it would be! At the start, I was full of anxiety and so nervous that I had thoughts of completely turning around and forgetting it almost happened. Now, it seems incredulous that I would think about missing the adventure.

Can you tell me what your day looked like?

Every day I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock around 7 a.m. (although I was already aware of the people who had woken up at 6 a.m. for fitness). I usually ate breakfast with my roommate or fellow vocal majors and then walked to the Fine Arts building by 8:30, at which time our major began. From that time, we worked until 1 when we trekked to Palms dining hall for lunch. But the time always seemed to go by quicker than we wanted because we all share a passion for our craft that allowed us to remain completely immersed in the music. After lunch, our minors (or electives) began at 2:30. There were many options for classes in that department, but I chose language, which I do not regret. Two of the four weeks I took Latin, which was very challenging, but super enjoyable due to the awesome instructor and my personal fascination with the Roman culture. The next two weeks I took French cinema and culture, which I also looked forward to each day. Dinner lasted from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., but I never really took advantage of that full-time. Instead, the rest of my night was filled with beautiful moments and people who made me laugh, ponder existence and yes, even cry (us vocal majors were an emotional bunch). The day began to wind down with the 10:30 hall check, where many stories and thoughts were shared and silly, often times hysterical hall parties ensued before 11:30 lights-out.

Are you still in contact with people you met in Valdosta?

Of course! We use an app called GroupMe, which we have had a large group message on since the moment we knew we were accepted into GHP. Many of us also follow each other on social media.

What did you learn?

Personally I was taught that people are usually pretty great if you give them a closer look. Everyone at GHP was incredibly open, creating a much different environment than in the typical public school. It was a kind of safe haven where you knew you could be yourself because everyone else was too. I realize social situations will never be quite the same as they were in Valdosta, but I also realize I can get to know people better once the initial barrier falls away if I just be real.

Is there a specific end result that was visible to you?

The main end result of my GHP experience was the vocal majors’ concert. I will never forget the moments shared on the stage and the beautiful music that we made together.

Were there any entertaining things that happened?

Definitely! Most every night, there were people out on the west lawn playing games, just hanging out, watching the stars or having a jam session. Seminars run by various RAs were available every day, which consisted of games, serious talks, movies, etc. Also, I won’t forget to mention how we had an eventful couple first nights. One night, the power went out for all of the girls dorms! Everyone was herded into the lobby, which as you might imagine, was very crowded. Another night, the fire alarm went off while I was in the shower! Many of the girls were made to run outside with towels and soap in their hair. All of this was because a hair dryer started smoking and eventually set off all the alarms.

Were there events for students on weekends?

Yes, seminars were created and held every day! Students were also allowed to sign up for church on Sundays.

What did you minor in?

Language. First two weeks for me was Latin and the second two weeks was French cinema and culture.

How has GHP changed your outlook on your future or your career?

I already knew I wanted to be involved in singing in the future. GHP mainly reinforced my love for music by giving me the opportunity to work surrounded by the most dedicated and passionate students in Georgia.

Would you recommend GHP to other students that have been nominated? Why or why not?

Absolutely. After experiencing GHP for myself, I can’t imagine having missed out on it. Not only are there the benefits of improving in your own area and learning about another area that interests you (your minor), but the more emotional gains are huge. You connect with other people on a deeper level than is normal (especially in four weeks!). And like me, the understanding you have about yourself might grow and help you discover more of who you can be.

What is your advice to future GHP students?

I would definitely advise future GHP students to start packing early. Make a checklist; it’s better to overpack than underpack. Then most importantly, I would say to be yourself. It sounds totally cliché and cheesy, but it's true. The whole thing will be even more enjoyable and eye-opening if you’re able to make those connections with other people.

Were the classes difficult or relaxing?

The classes were difficult at times. However, the brain stimulation is really what made the classes worthwhile! I was challenged to try harder and keep my best up, which made the end results that much more satisfying.

Did you find one subject that you are interested in pursuing in the future?

Through my Latin minor, I realized more of my interest in early Roman civilization, as well as Greek and Roman mythology. Perhaps I would really enjoy a career dealing with the history or study of these cultures.

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