Students selected for prestigious summer program

Students selected for prestigious summer program

Juniors Anna Hall and Maria Curry will attend the Governor’s Honors Program this summer. Hall (left) will study dance and Curry will go for Social Studies.

By Spencer Dawson

Junior Miguel Gonzalez was in his yearbook class when he checked his email and saw that the Governor’s Honors Program had sent him an email. Nervously, he opened it to see the congratulatory message. He had been selected to participate in the GHP summer program for Spanish.

“I was beyond thrilled when I saw I was accepted,” Gonzalez said. “I am so glad to have such an amazing opportunity.”

GHP is a four-week residential summer program hosted by Valdosta State University from June 21 to July 18 for current high school sophomores and juniors who excel in a particular subject. Students were nominated for Agricultural Science, Communicative Arts, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, Engineering and Design, and Technology. Students were initially nominated by teachers from their high schools who found the students’ abilities exemplary in their chosen areas.

Nominees who made it past their county-level interview submitted another set of applications in order to be eligible for the state interview. State interviews were held in different high schools all across the state of Georgia. Once the state interviews were completed, students were required to wait for the final word on whether they made it in the summer program or not.

Gonzalez was not the only GHP nominee to receive the good news. Two other state finalists are juniors Maria Curry and Anna Hall.

I was extremely excited for Miguel as he is a very hard worker and a great student. This is such an honor for our school.”

— Madeline Rodriguez, Spanish teacher

Gonzalez was nominated in Foreign Language by Spanish teacher Madeline Rodriguez. “I celebrated when Miguel was chosen for GHP. I reacted almost more than he did,” Rodriguez said. “I was extremely excited for Miguel as he is a very hard worker and a great student. This is such an honor for our school.”

Gonzalez is excited to learn more about the Spanish language and culture. “Knowing how prestigious GHP is, I was beyond excited when I received the good news,” Gonzalez said. “It is truly a blessing that I will be able to be with other people who share the same passion as I do.”

The Foreign Language state interviews were slightly different than the other interviews according to Gonzalez. “My whole interview was spoken in Spanish,” Gonzalez said. “I was shown a picture and described the picture to the judges and later did a writing sample about who I admire most and why.”

Curry was nominated by AP Government and World History teacher Diane Ruane for Social Studies. “I was very excited when I received word of Maria’s acceptance,” Ruane said. “She puts in a lot of work and is very dedicated in and out of the classroom. I had a feeling she would find success in this program since she is such a strong candidate.”

Curry said she is honored to represent Starr’s Mill in such a great way. “Knowing that there are so many talented students here in our school alone, to be chosen as one out of the thousands of students in our state is such a gratifying experience,” Curry said.

Nominated by Drama Director David Spearman, Hall was selected for a second time to represent Starr’s Mill at GHP for dance. In 2014, Hall was also selected but had to decline because of a conflict with a scholarship offer from the Joffrey Ballet School. This year, she is excited to be able to participate in GHP. “Being selected feels different than being selected last year because I am absolutely sure I am going,” Hall said, “Last year, I was very much on the fence about it because I had already been accepted into Joffrey, but this year I am thrilled to be able to meet new people and gain more experience in dance.”

However, when that email appeared in her queue, she just couldn’t click on it. “When I got [it], I made my best friend read it. I was too nervous to do it myself, but when she opened it, she smiled at me, and I knew it was good news,” Hall said. “I read and reread the email a thousand times. I’m so excited, and I can’t believe this is real.”


Two more students were selected as alternates for GHP and have the potential to attend the summer program if finalists from other areas turn down their spots. They are sophomores Caroline Poole for chorus and Joshua Tysor for Mathematics.

Assistant Principal Charlotte Robinson said she believes it is a wonderful achievement to be selected for the GHP summer program. “At the state interview, around 2,000 students were fighting for a final spot, so it is a great honor for the students who were selected for GHP,” Robinson said. “We are very proud of their accomplishments.”