22 Bartow, Cartersville students named GHP semifinalists


And then there were 22.

Fourteen Bartow County students and eight Cartersville students were notified Jan. 26 that they had made it to the semifinal round of the Governor’s Honors Program and now are preparing for their state interviews in front of a panel of expert judges Feb. 24 at Berry College.

Semifinalists from Bartow County are Woodland High juniors Carris Adcock (Social Studies), Peter Germ (Science), Heidi Hicks (Music: French Horn), Ezra Petron (Communicative Arts), Banta Sesay (Music: Trumpet) and Stephen Willoughby (Science); Cass High juniors Cristian Alvarez (Social Studies), Brianna Gonsahn (Social Studies), Jenna Keeler (Communicative Arts) and Grace Weeks (Theater Performance) and sophomore Alexa Halpern (Communicative Arts); Adairsville High juniors Abby Herren (Science) and Ryan Lance (Social Studies); and home-school student Sarah Huffman (Dance).

“It warms my heart to see such talented students excel in academics and the fine arts areas,” Bartow GHP Coordinator Paula Camp said. “Our students definitely have what it takes to compete with the other state semifinalists for these top spots in the Governor’s Honors Program. We take great pride in knowing our district, our schools and our families will be represented well by these outstanding students.”

Bartow’s 14 semifinalists — five more than last year — were selected from the county’s 24 district nominees, according to Camp. 

“It’s an incredible number,” she said. “It shows our students really stand out and offer something unique to one of Georgia’s most prestigious programs. I couldn’t be happier that the caliber of our students is being recognized by The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.”

Chosen as semifinalists from Cartersville were Sim Archer (Engineering: Mechanical Design), Chloe Bacon (Theater: Performance), Ethan Boone (Mathematics), Tyler Keeney (Engineering: Computer Software), Anna Matherne (Dance), Will Noble (Mathematics), Grace Rhodes (Theater: Performance) and Melissa Valdez (Theater: Technical).

“I am very excited about our students who were granted a state interview,” Cartersville GHP Coordinator Mindy Surrett said. “This reflects the talent that each individual holds. Many of these students work outside of class in their area of expertise to further their knowledge. GHP represents a chance for these students to be around other students with their same interests and learn something new.”

The school system originally nominated 10 students, but only nine of them completed their application, according to Surrett.

Almost 3,200 students from across the state were nominated for the competition by their school districts, and more than 1,600 were selected as semifinalists for state interviews or auditions, according to Ricky Parmer of GOSA.

The students now are spending their time getting ready to face a group of judges who are experts in their nomination area.

“The way a student prepares for their interview depends on their area of nomination,” Surrett said. “Some students have to interpret data and write a summary in addition to the interview. Students nominated in dance and theater actually perform a short piece. Some areas put students into groups and have them debate a topic in addition to the interview.”

All students were given a “generalized idea specific to their area of nomination of what to expect during their interview so that they could prepare as much as possible,” she added.

Bartow County is offering its semifinalists mock interviews “so they can refine their interviewing skills in their nomination area,” Camp said.

The finalists will be named March 30, 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 17 to July 14 at Berry College.