12 Bartow, Cartersville students chosen as GHP semifinalists

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The number of 2019 Governor’s Honors Program nominees from Bartow County’s two school systems has been whittled down from 33 to 12. 

Seven students from Bartow County and five students from Cartersville have been selected as semifinalists in the program and have begun preparing for their state interviews and auditions before a panel of expert judges Feb. 23 at Berry College in Rome.

Cartersville GHP Coordinator Mindy Surrett said the Governor's Office of Student Achievement notified coordinators and nominees who had been chosen as semifinalists on Jan. 25. 

“The information always comes out on a Friday so that students can have the weekend to digest the news – good or bad – before being overwhelmed by their peers with inquiries,” she said.

Making it to the next level from Bartow County are Adairsville High juniors Bryana Candelaria (Communicative Arts) and Alexandra Chebat (Visual Arts); Cass High junior Alexa Halpern (Communicative Arts) and sophomore Olivia Flynn (Communicative Arts); and Woodland High juniors William Evans (Music: Euphonium) and Calvin Stovall (Music: Piano) and sophomore Bradley Lorren (Engineering). 

Bartow GHP Coordinator Paula Camp said the county’s “strong group” of sophomores and juniors made it to the semifinal stage because they “excelled in their online state-level applications.” 

“It’s impressive to see their intense focus in daily classroom activities as well as extracurricular activities,” she said. “Not only are these students setting a high academic standard — some through dual enrollment — but some are also playing sports, earning a first-degree black belt or even obtaining an amateur radio license. These well-rounded individuals will, without a doubt, provide something unique to this year’s program.”

Counselor Mary Beth Tumlin said WHS’s three semifinalists are heavily involved in their nomination areas – Calvin and Billy are in band and Bradley is enrolled in the engineering program at the Bartow County College and Career Academy and is completing an engineering internship — as well as outside activities — Bradley has his amateur radio license; Calvin has a first-degree black belt; and Billy plays tennis and golf.  

“These three young men have outstanding character and represent WHS well,” she said. “On top of being wonderful, all-around great young men, they put the effort in the classroom when it comes to their education. I am extremely proud to have Bradley, Billy and Calvin represent WHS as GHP nominees.” 

AHS counselor Gretchen McCulley said what “stands out” to her about her GHP nominees this year is “how well they collaborated with each other.”

“They all wanted to be selected, but they also wanted everyone else to be selected as well,” she said. “They never acted as though they were competing with each other; instead, they worked more as a team.”

Angie Weeks, counselor at Cass, said Alexa, who is a semifinalist for the second year, and Olivia are "truly exceptional."

"They are both ranked in the top of their class, are very involved in extracurricular activities ranging from numerous clubs to sports, and they have a genuine love for literature," she said. "Their interest in literature transcends the classroom setting as they both enjoy writing their own short stories and poetry and have even had some of their pieces published. They have also received numerous accolades for their written work. We are very proud of these two students and know that they will accomplish great things." 

This year’s seven semifinalists — half as many as last year — were chosen from the county’s 23 district nominees. 

Representing Cartersville as semifinalists are Kevin Barnhart (Music: Voice), 

Jayla Cunningham (Theater: Performance), Linda Duong (World Languages: Spanish), Fardia Karim (Mathematics) and Nuren Lara (Social Studies).

“The semifinalists that were chosen from CHS represent a diverse community of learners that are educated at Cartersville High School,” Surrett said. “Five semifinalists out of 10 system nominees tells me that the competition must have been fierce this year. I know the quality of our student population, and to have half of our representatives chosen says to me that the other nominees from around the state were equally competent.”

The city’s representatives are “all top-notch students,” Surrett said.

“They were excited about the opportunity that the Governor's Honors Program would provide,” she said.

In 2018, the school district had eight semifinalists — six juniors and two sophomores —that went to state interviews, and four of them were selected to attend GHP last summer, Surrett said. 

“Our school committee recommended more sophomores this year,” she said. “I believe that those students will make even stronger candidates next year.”

Roughly 3,200 students from across the state were nominated for GHP by their school districts this year, and about 1,550 were selected as semifinalists for state interviews and auditions, Governor's Honors Program Manager Richard Parmer said.

The 12 semifinalists from Bartow County will find out if they’ve been named finalists on March 29, according to the GHP website.

Fully funded by the Georgia General Assembly, the four-week residential program designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented sophomores and juniors with challenging educational opportunities will be held June 16 to July 13 at Berry College.