Every year, fewer than 100 students meet the rigorous requirements to be named Georgia Scholars. This year, Hall County had two — Sally Justus of West Hall High School and Kyle Reynolds of Chestatee High School.
"There are so many competent and above competent students in Georgia," Justus said. "It really is an honor to be considered one of those among the great."
Georgia Scholars must obtain a minimum 1360 SAT math and reading score or a combined 31 ACT score, a 3.75 or higher grade-point average and be leaders in their school and community.
"It shows their colleges and their communities what dedicated young adults these people are," said Dale Lyles, director of the Governor's Honors Program for the Georgia Department of Education.
"It's a reflection of the school and the community."
Both Justus and Reynolds were their schools' STAR students this year, meaning they obtained the highest SAT scores.
"She was winning awards left and right," West Hall Principal Greg Williams said of Justus. "She's a humble, very good person who deserves all the good things that come her way."
Justus, who danced with the Gainesville Ballet Company until graduation, participated in a variety of community service activities throughout high school in order to earn credit for West Hall's International Baccalaureate curriculum.
She will be attending Harvard University this fall, majoring in biomedical engineering.
"My track will be pre-med," Justus said.
"I'm going to study from the engineering perspective, but I'll go on to be a doctor eventually. Or a researcher. I haven't quite decided."
Her desire to go to medical school stems from a family member who had Alzheimer's.
"There are diseases that haven't been created or formed yet and I want to be able to cure them," Justus said. "I hope in some small way my life can make a difference for others and make life possible for other people."
Both Justus and Reynolds expressed slight apprehension at leaving for college but said their excitement outweighed nervousness.
Chestatee Principal Chip Underwood said Reynolds will be missed next year.
He was active in political organizations throughout high school and plans to continue in that vein, majoring in political science at the University of Texas-Dallas.
"My talents and my intellect have always been more linguistically focused rather than mathematically or scientifically," he said. "The components of law, the language aspect and the social aspect, have always interested me."
Reynolds said the Georgia Scholars honor was a positive reflection on the Chestatee faculty.
"They're out to change the lives of young people and give them an opportunity to do as well as they can in life and succeed as much as they can," he said. "This shows that they're on the right track."