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Two JHS juniors selected for Governor's Honors Programs

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

Josh Bell and Tyler Van Dusen will not be graduating from Jackson High School until May 2011, but they just found out they will be spending six weeks this summer living in a college dormitory, studying under some of the best teachers in Georgia, including some college professors, and pursuing a "major" and a "minor" with the brightest fellow students in the state interested in the same field of study.

Bell and Van Dusen have been selected to be a part of the 2010 Governor's Honors Program. Bell was chosen in the field of Technical Design, and Van Dusen was chosen in Chemistry. Both young men were first nominated and screened at Jackson High School, submitted portfolios including their related extracurricular activities and accomplishments, and finally underwent intensive interviews in their respective disciplines.

The interviews were conducted at Dutchtown High School on Saturday, February 6. For Bell it was a particularly hectic and exciting day since he also competed in the Area Wrestling Tournament before and after his GHP interview. Fortunately, the Area Tournament was held at Jackson, but Bell still had to manage to win matches to advance, clean up and get ready for the GHP interview, get to Dutchtown and impress the interviewer, then return to the gym in Jackson and wrestle in the finals.

Apparently he did it all well: He won the Region Championship and advanced to State competition in his weight class and also impressed those involved with GHP selection with his abilities and potential. And he even made it to a concert that night.

"I enjoyed the interview," said Bell. "Five minutes into it, the interviewer and I found we had a lot in common. He said I am well-rounded and have common sense."

While Van Dusen did not face as hectic an interview day as Bell, he did face a team of interviewers. Part of his Chemistry interview involved discussion of some experiments he had conducted in the field.

Laura LaChappelle, Jason LaChappelle, and Anne Kline worked with Bell and Van Dusen in preparing for the interview. Mr. LaChappelle and Mrs. Kline had been involved previously in interviewing GHP candidates, and Mrs. LaChappelle has extensive public speaking experience and is the coach of the award winning JHS Speech and Debate Team.

GHP is an instructional program designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students challenging and enriching opportunities. It began in 1964 and is the only one of its kind in the nation. GHP will continue its tradition of providing Georgia's most promising juniors and seniors with a program to push them to achieve this summer with Valdosta State University as its venue.

There are no expenses for the students chosen to be a part of this six-week program of classes and activities. Funds for tuition, room, board, and instructional supplies are appropriated by the Georgia General Assembly as part of the state's education budget. Approximately 660 students are selected to attend GHP each summer. About 2,000 students reach the interview level.

Instructional areas are English, foreign languages, math, science, social studies, agricultural science, visual arts, theatre, music, dance, design technology and executive management.

The last JHS student chosen for GHP was Matthew Price, Class of 2004, who attended in music. Prior to that Sarah McLean and Daniel Blankenship of the Class of 2001 were chosen; from the Class of 2000, it was Jonathan Bagley. JHS sent Dallas Cowne to GHP from the Class of 1999 and Joe Rappaport from the Class of 1996.

Bell was nominated by his JHS Construction teacher Sonny Braswell; Van Dusen was nominated by his JHS Chemistry teacher Jessica Jernigan. Their written recommendations were a factor in advancing the students to selection.

"We're so excited for them," said Mrs. Kline.

Bell and Van Dusen will gain tremendously from the GHP experience; they will also bring back to their classmates and the community expanded goals and visions of possibilities beyond high school.