By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Twelve students in Hall selected for Governors Honors Program
Residential summer program provides advanced instruction in various subjects
Placeholder Image

Seven Hall County students, three from Gainesville High School, one from Lakeview Academy and a homeschooled student have been selected for the annual Governor’s Honors program this summer.

The residential program for talented rising juniors and seniors will be held at Valdosta State University from mid-June to mid-July.

It offers significantly different instruction from the typical high school classroom, according to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement website, which is "designed to provide students with academic, cultural and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders."

Students from Hall County and Gainesville will participate in social studies, communicative arts, science, theater performance, mathematics and dance.

This will be the 53rd summer of the program. Georgia’s program is the longest continually running program of its kind in the nation.

More than 3,000 students applied and 1,700 students interviewed and auditioned in February. From those nominees, 654 finalists were chosen to participate.

53rd Governor’s Honors Program participants

Boone Alexander

Gainesville High

Social studies

  • Active in theater and band.
  • Taken four AP courses — literature, US history, government and world history
  • Plans to attend college and pursue a master’s degree. Potential majors are history, law, political science or journalism.
  • His parents are Mark and Michelle Alexander.

Pilar Corso

Johnson High

Social studies

  • A member of the debate team, which will compete in the nationals in Salt Lake City, Utah, this summer.
  • Plans to graduate with an international baccalaureate diploma in 2017. He has had 11 honors courses.
  • Plans to attend law school at Columbia University.
  • His parents are Phaedra Corso and Arturo Corso.

Anna Diaz

Gainesville High


  • Involved in Beta Club, Key Club, Interact Club, Math Club, Youth Leadership Hall, French National Honors Society and yearbook staff.
  • Dances a minimum of four days a week and volunteers to teach ballet to children of the Boys and Girls Club.
  • Taken classical lessons and performed on violin since she was 7.
  • Plans to attend college and perhaps study accounting.
  • Her parents are Blair and Joe Diaz.

Megan Freeman

Chestatee High School

Communicative arts

  • Secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America and a member of the Key Club and National Honor Society. She also is on the tennis team.
  • Enrolled in AP Seminar and AP U.S. History and honors courses in Chemistry I and American literature.
  • Plans to major in English in college and become a corporate lawyer.
  • Jonathan and Maria Freeman are her parents.

Cole Gillespie

Flowery Branch High

Social studies

  • Parliamentarian for the school chapter of National Honor Society and will be president next year. He also is the only candidate for the state president of NHS.
  • Involved with Beta Club and Young Republicans Club. He was a member of the Lanier Rowing Club for three years and was elected captain.
  • His parents are Bob and Christine Gillespie.

Jackson Kelly

Johnson High School


  • Participated in the Johnson International Scholars Academy as a freshman and sophomore and takes six International Baccalaureate courses.
  • Member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Interact Club and Beta Club. He played JV soccer his freshman and sophomore years.
  • Plans to attend college and graduate school.
  • His parents are Chris and Terri Kelly.

Hayes Kennedy

Lakeview Academy

Communicative arts

  • Won multiple awards for art; participated in swimming, cross country and swimming; member of the Featherbond Communiversity Leadership Committee; an AP scholar sophomore year; member of Youth Leadership Hall; active in drama, including the state-winning cast of “Adamms Family.”
  • Member of the art, history and Spanish honor societies, the Senior Beta club and the state champion Academic Bowl team. He was a student council representative his sophomore and junior years.
  • Has taken six AP courses and plans more his senior year.
  • Hopes to attend college in an urban area such as Chicago, New York or Boston and to study abroad.
  • His parents are Christin Kennedy and John P. Kennedy
Grant Key

Johnson High

Theater performance

  • Involved in theater, band, marching band, National Honor Society and Odyssey of the Mind.
  • Taken nine honors classes, four AP courses and one IB course.
  • Plans to major in math and theater in college. He plans to be a mathematician and professional performer.
  • His parents are George and Jody Key.

Ashley Nelson

West Hall High

Social studies

  • Member of the Academic Team, Beta Club and SkillsUSA.
  • Taken four AP classes plus honors chemistry and accelerated advanced algebra.
  • Her parents are Mac and Dana Nelson.

Michelle Razo

Gainesville High

Communicative arts

  • Member of the varsity academic team, the Key Club, Math Club, Environmental Awareness Club, National Honor Society and Beta Club.
  • Would like to attend Duke University, get a bachelor’s degree in political science and attend law school.
  • Her parents are Elvia Castaneda and Juan Razo.

Madison Stewart

Johnson High


  • Member of the Key Club, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Spanish Honor Society and the golf team.
  • Participant in the Johnson International Scholars Association and has four AP courses and three IB classes.
  • Undecided about a college and her major, but she will “definitely” seek a degree.
  • Her parents are Steve and Angie Stewart.

Savannah Wetherford



  • Started dancing at 3 and decided she wanted to dance at 7. She has been home-schooled since kindergarten.
  • Dances at Alicats Dance Studio in Flowery Branch.
  • Received dance scholarships from Monsters of Hip Hop Dance and Joffrey Ballet. She had the lead role in her studio’s production of the “Wizard of Oz.”
  • Wants to audition for an internship at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She would like to pursue a dance career before college and maybe one day open her own studio.
  • Donnie and Patricia Wetherford are her parents.
Regional events