By Johnny Jackson
Some 700 students from around the state will converge on the Dutchtown High School campus in Hampton on Saturday, to take part in interviews for the annual Georgia Governor's Honors Program.
Another group of 700 students will be on the campus for interviews on Feb. 6.
The Governor's Honors Program is a six-week summer, residential, instructional camp held at Valdosta State University, according to the program's associate director, Cary Brague.
Brague said the program is designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students with educational opportunities not typically found in regular, high school programs. The Governor's Honors Program places students in a college environment, where they can major in different academic subjects.
The program was created in 1964, and exists now as the largest and longest-running program of its kind in the country, Brague said.
Rising juniors and seniors in public, private, and home schools are nominated for the program by their teachers, and must undergo interviews. Students are selected from an applicant pool in the academic or art components of the program, and take part during the summer prior to their junior and senior years.
This year's statewide interviews for academics will be conducted on the Dutchtown High School campus, located at 149 Mitchell Road in Hampton, on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.
"It's a site that can accommodate our facilities needs for the number of participants that we have," Brague said. "We are fortunate that Henry County Schools is partnering with us in these activities."
There are a total of 113 students within the Henry County school system scheduled to interview for the Governor's Honors Program over the next two Saturdays, he said. Sixty-eight students will represent Clayton County Public Schools at the interviews.
The student interviews this Saturday will be for Governor's Honors Program majors in communicative arts, foreign languages, math, science, social studies, and executive management, according to Kindra Tukes, an instructional lead teacher at Dutchtown. She said 15 students from the school plan to compete this year for slots in the program.
"It's a great program," Tukes said. "Students are able to have peers around them with the same interests. They also get a feel for that college life, study what they love doing, and form different relationships while they are there."
Dutchtown seniors, Amber Tittle and Thbeni Amin, said their experiences in the Governor's Honors Program in 2009 continues to influence their education, career goals, and lives.
"It was definitely a learning experience," said Tittle, 17. "I learned how to not depend on my parents for everything, and I learned what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to make music my career.
"I believe that future students will get a chance to have an experience that they would never have in a regular summer," she continued. "[Governor's Honors Program students] learn from each other and build friendships. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Tittle said her experience motivated her to focus on her career goals and objectives. This fall, she plans to double major in vocal performance and music education at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Eighteen-year-old Amin, who initially set her career sights on agri-science, said her experience in the Governor's Honors Program helped her realize that she no longer wanted an agri-science-related career.
"It's actually GHP that made me question my decision," Amin said. "I learned through GHP that agri-science is meant to be more of a hobby in my life as opposed to a career. I've been exploring other options."
Amin said her experience was about more than academic enrichment, but about developing life skills as well.
"It opened my eyes in so many different ways," she said. "I learned a lot about myself and other people. I learned how much responsibility there is in life, and that I am capable of being responsible. There is so much you can learn at GHP. It's difficult to experience GHP to its fullest."