Some of Bartow County's smartest and most talented students have been nominated for a summer program that will give them a life-changing experience they'll never forget.
Twenty-five Bartow County students and 10 Cartersville City students have been named district nominees for the 2021 Georgia Governor's Honors Program and now advance to the state level of the competition.
Students who are chosen as finalists in March will spend four weeks in an elite residential summer program — conducted next year from June 20 to July 17 at Berry College in Rome — designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented rising juniors and seniors with challenging educational opportunities not usually available to them in a typical high school classroom.
The program, which is fully funded by the Georgia General Assembly, is designed to provide students with academic, social and cultural enrichment needed to become the next generation of global innovators, leaders and critical thinkers.
During those four weeks, they will attend classes in the mornings and afternoons in their specific area of study: Agricultural Research, Biotechnology and Science; Communicative Arts; Dance; Engineering (computer and software engineering, mechanical design or mechanical and electrical engineering); Mathematics; Music (brass, jazz, percussion, piano, strings, voice or woodwind); Science (biology, chemistry or physics); Social Studies (economics, geography, history, psychology or sociology); Theater Performance; Visual Arts; and World Languages (Chinese, French, German, Latin or Spanish).
Selected as 2020-2021 district nominees were:
— Adairsville High juniors Wesley Boling (Social Studies), Kayli Hilburn (Social Studies), Sydney Irons (Music: Clarinet), Connor Patterson (Engineering), Emily Rogers (Science) and Abigail Simpson (Science) and sophomore Samantha Lusian (Communicative Arts).
— Cass High juniors Camden Briggs (Music: Percussion) and Eli Etheridge (Theater) and sophomores Jacques Denoux (Music: Jazz), Parker Dunn (Social Studies), Tyler McKnight (Social Studies), Loren Montoya (Social Studies) and Allison White (Social Studies).
— Woodland High juniors Abigail Carlsen (Music: Saxophone), Jayla Chastain (Communicative Arts), Alana Hennon (Visual Arts), Mason Hughes (Music: Saxophone), Gracie Lanham (Theater), Ben Novo (Music: Trombone), Christopher Tarver (Mathematics), Caden Wolf (Music: Percussion) and Ben Yandow (Theater) and sophomores Joseph Parker (Science) and Jackson Tadlock (Music: Saxophone).
— Cartersville High students Harrison Caswell (Engineering: Computer and Software), Kate Hacker (Communicative Arts), Ellie Johnson (Communicative Arts), Carter Mitchell (Music: Percussion), Caroline Morrison (Mathematics), Joshua Munoz (Mathematics), Manh Nguyen (Mathematics), Chandler Schell (Music: Woodwind), Mia Shaw (Social Studies) and Anna Grace Trammell (Dance).
These nominees have been invited to complete an online state-level application by Jan. 8. The semifinalists selected from that group will be notified Jan. 29 and will have the opportunity to interview or audition at Berry College Feb. 27.
Finalists and alternates for the program will be announced March 26.
The talent level of Bartow County's 25 nominees — the same number as last year — "never ceases to amaze me," GHP Coordinator Paula Camp said.
"This group of eight sophomores and 17 juniors is deeply passionate and dedicated to their field of study, experiences outside the classroom and a higher education," she said. "I see such enthusiasm from these students, which is especially admirable now in today’s changing landscape due to COVID-19."
Camp said 68% of this year's nominees are juniors, and seven were nominated last year.
"Each nominee has a deep understanding of their content area and an intrinsic need to learn at an extremely high level," she said. "I am so proud of what they have already accomplished."
The county system used a different method for choosing its nominees this year, according to Camp.
"Bartow County embarked on a new internal process this year for local interviews which resulted in a more cohesive and competitive interview process that we feel will 'mirror' the collaborative and rigorous state application process for highlighting these students' strengths," she said. "I am proud to see the amount of work and desire for achievement come out of our schools, students and families this year. Our GHP school coordinators have also played a vital part of promoting and supporting this opportunity."
Cartersville GHP Coordinator Mindy Surrett was extremely impressed, as always, with the caliber of this year's district nominees.
"Every year, I think that there is no way we could have higher quality than this year, and every year, we seem to top the last with outstanding performances and interviews," she said.
The 10 nominees — the same number as last year — were selected from 20 students nominated by CHS teachers, and none of the district candidates have been nominated before, Surrett said.
"Students had to answer five short essay questions ahead of time and turn in typed responses," she said. "Then students were interviewed by a committee of five adults."
Both coordinators like their district's chances of having at least one finalist selected for the program next summer.
"I feel like these students have wonderful chances to continue through the state application process and display just how dedicated they are to exhibiting excellence and showing the caliber of their advanced learning skills," Camp said. "I can't wait to see how well their hard work pays off. I am expecting to see these students rise to the top."
"I’m hopeful that the state committee will see every one of our nominees as outstanding as I do," Surrett said.
Camp said participating in GHP is "truly a unique experience" with benefits that will carry over into adulthood.
"These students will be with like-minded individuals for several weeks at Berry College and learn from each other as well as from top educators across the region," she said. "What they’ll experience in four weeks cannot be duplicated in a traditional high school classroom."
Surrett said attending the program is "life-altering" for those who experience it.
"It’s a paradigm shift," she said. "Students are exposed to so many experiences that can never be replicated in a classroom."
Two students who were selected for this year's program and didn't get to attend due to COVID-19 forcing it to be canceled will be participating in the 2021 program.
"Last year’s sophomores who were chosen received an automatic invite this year," Surrett said. "We had one young lady, Jenny Crum (Communicative Arts), who will be attending next year since the 2020 program was canceled."
Camp said Bartow County also has one student, Maki Barnes (Communicative Arts) from Cass, who will be participating next year.
"GOSA [Governor's Office of Student Achievement] made it possible for our last year's student at Cass High School to be automatically placed into the program for 2021," she said. "He will not have to go through the application process and is already considered a GHP program participant."