Six high school students from Bartow County have been chosen to spend part of their summer taking advantage of a life-altering opportunity.Three students from the Bartow County School System and three from the Cartersville City School System were named finalists for the 2017 Governor’s Honors Program and will spend four weeks studying a subject about which they’re passionate.
Adairsville High sophomore Helen Bryant (Music: Piano), Cass High junior Emily Tracy (Communicative Arts), Woodland High junior Christian Welch (Science) and Cartersville High students Will Bentley (Engineering: Mechatronics), Clay Duke (Music: Voice) and Maggie Fields (Dance) were notified in late March that they had been chosen to participate in the competitive enrichment program that will take place June 18 to July 15 at Berry College in Rome.
“In order to be selected as a finalist for Governor’s Honors Program, it requires a substantial amount of initiative, resoluteness and a willingness to work hard,” said Paula Camp, coordinator for Title III, gifted, Title I and parent involvement for Bartow County Schools. “We are extremely proud of our students who attained this special honor and pleased that they will have such tremendous opportunities to expand both academically and socially through the program this summer at Berry College.”
“The seven semifinalists representing Cartersville High School were all well-qualified candidates,” said Mindy Surrett, math teacher at Cartersville High. “Having three students chosen from this outstanding group as finalists is very exciting. All three of these students are talented in many different areas. I am so excited for each of them to have the opportunity to focus on their strengths this summer while being surrounded by students just like them.”
GHP is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students who are rising juniors and seniors, according to the GHP website. The program is designed to provide students with the academic, cultural and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders.
Students attend classes in specific areas of study in the mornings and afternoons and participate in a variety of social and instructional opportunities every evening.
The nomination process began in late September, with teachers nominating juniors and sophomores in the areas of agriculture science, communicative arts, dance, engineering (design, mechatronics and software engineering), mathematics, music (instrumental and vocal), science, social studies, theater (performance and design), visual arts and world languages (Chinese, French, German, Latin and Spanish).
Roughly 3,200 students from across the state were chosen by the school districts to move forward in the process, and in late January, 1,700 of them were selected as semifinalists, who had to participate in a personal interview in late February in front of a state committee of adults who were experts in the same field of study as each student.
Finalists selected to attend the program were notified through the GHP website and by email by March 31.
Bentley, 17, said it was a “relief and honor to be chosen” for the program.
“I had tried last year as a sophomore and didn’t even make it to the state interview stage that I succeeded in this year,” said the junior, who was nominated by his engineering teacher, Kenya Rowser. “GHP is such a unique program where I get to immerse myself in a subject area that I love along with students who have that same passion. But also it gives me a chance to step out of my comfort zone and experience new learning opportunities.”
As soon as he learned he’d made it, he notified several people who were just as anxious as he was.
“I told my friends and parents, who were anxious to know if I got in, especially because of the effort I put into getting into this program starting all the way back early in the first semester,” he said.
The son of David Bentley and Amy Walters said he’s eager to get started on the mechatronics program, which combines “mechanical” and “electronics” into a field that deals mainly with robotics.
“I look forward to getting in depth in my subject area to use materials and complete projects I wouldn’t have an opportunity to be involved in just at school, such as leading CAD and advanced robotics,” he said. “I’ve known some people — Haden Boone and Avery Andrews — that say GHP is a summer that will change who you are. I’m really looking forward to experiencing this change for the better.”
Surrett said the areas of their finalists — music, engineering and dance — “speak to the strength of our elective courses and extracurricular activities” at CHS.
“Will Bentley has been a driving force on our world-qualifying robotics team,” she said. “Clay Duke has been in countless plays and musicals both at CHS and in the Bartow community theater. Maggie Fields has been involved in dance most of her life.”
Bryant, 16, was selected as a finalist but declined the opportunity because she was chosen for another summer program in Brevard, North Carolina.
“It was definitely rewarding to see that all of my hard work preparing for the audition and interviews had paid off,” she said. “The selection process was long, and the wait for the results seemed like forever, but I was excited to know either way. I think GHP or any other programs of its kind would be a great opportunity to better myself as a pianist and as a student. The student environment is very appealing and very different from what I could get anywhere else. Being surrounded by kids who share my passion for the instrument is special.”