Four Thomas County School System students received impressive news recently when the state released the list of 690 names chosen as finalists for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program.
Three juniors and one sophomore were selected to represent Thomas County Central High School at this summer’s Governor’s Honors Program, known as GHP. Savannah Matherly, Lauren Rich, Sunni Wynn, and Tessa McCorkle were selected to attend the 50th annual GHP residential summer program at Valdosta State University. A function of the Georgia Department of Education, the program for gifted and talented high school students is the longest continually running program of its kind in the nation.
Nearly 3000 students from across the state were interviewed and auditioned over three weekends in January and February, and from those nominees 690 finalists were chosen to participate in the 2013 program. Since the program is fully funded by the Georgia General Assembly, there is no charge for students to attend.
Dr. George “Dusty” Kornegay, superintendent of Thomas County Schools and a Governor’s Honors Program alum himself, congratulated the finalists and complimented the efforts of those involved. “The Governor’s Honors Program is our state’s most prestigious honors program for high school students, and I am extremely proud to have four of our students selected as finalists. This recognition brings honor not only to the students and their families but also to the teachers and counselors who have worked with these students in preparing them to achieve at this level,” said Kornegay.
Dr. James Rehberg, Thomas County Schools Director of Honors, Gifted, and Accelerated Instruction, was encouraged to have so many chosen after having only one student selected in 2012. “It shows the great strides we are making in preparing our students to compete with the best from around the state. Of our finalists, two represent academics and two represent CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education). I believe this validates the reputation of each of our equally capable academic and vocational missions.”
Students will arrive on the campus of VSU on Sunday, June 23. For four weeks, students will spend the morning in their major area of nomination, exploring topics not usually found in the regular high school classroom. During the afternoons, students choose one of the other areas in which to study. The curriculum in all the areas is challenging and engaging. Evenings are filled with seminars, activities, concerts, and performances.
Savannah Matherly will be immersed in the study of Physics, her area of nomination. Recommended by TCCHS science teacher Michelle McCorkle, Matherly can’t wait to experience an environment filled with others who share a similar appreciation for science and physics in particular. Speaking of physics, Matherly stated, “It’s something that always leaves me curious and something that I need to work hard for. I love solving the problems and being able to apply physics to my everyday life. It’s something we use every day and it’s pretty phenomenal, the power behind it.”
Savannah looks forward to attending Georgia Southern University after graduation where she intends to pursue a career in physical therapy. As for GHP, Savannah is excited about experiencing campus life and access to the university’s physics lessons and instruction.
Lauren Rich has already amassed an impressive resume based on her love of writing and word craft. She posted a perfect score on the Georgia High School Writing Test and as a playwright, has watched her own original work performed on stage. Nominated in the area of communicative arts by Renae Moore, Lauren’s AP English teacher, Lauren does not hesitate to identify what she anticipates the most about GHP. “Meeting new people who are equally passionate” about creativity and the written word.
Rich went on to explain she feels, “Communicative Arts is the oldest and, arguably, the most important art form. It encompasses such a broad range of topics and forms the foundation of civilized society.” Mrs. Moore noted Lauren is not only gifted in the classroom but also as a musician. “Lauren Rich is a very skillful flautist and a young woman of integrity and humility,” stated Moore.
Lauren aims for a career in journalism as a writer and reporter, contributing articles to the likes of Time or The New Yorker. She hopes she will leave GHP with a clear vision of her future and the journey that lies ahead.
Sunni Dee Wynn was selected in the area of Agriscience/Biotechnology, the second student chosen to attend GHP in that area from TCCHS in the last two years. Wynn’s reaction to the selection was understandable. “I feel extremely honored and blessed,” she stated. Growing up on a horse farm, Sunni has agriculture in her DNA. She is an active member in 4-H and FFA and intends to major in animal science when she reaches college where she plans to ride on an equestrian team.
Robbie Harrison, TCCHS agricultural instructor and Wynn’s nominating teacher added, “Sunnie is an outstanding young lady with many talents. We are thrilled to have her representing the Thomas County Central Agriculture Education program this summer.”
Tessa McCorkle is the lone sophomore selected in the area of Executive Business Management. Tessa was very relaxed when it came time to interview for GHP. “I’m never stressed when I’m being interviewed. I enjoyed speaking with the judges and answering their questions,” said McCorkle. Drawing on her experience competing in FBLA speaking events and a region medal winner in Extemporaneous Speaking, Tessa felt right at home discussing her interest in business and marketing. “Most of business involves being able to logically get your point across. I enjoy presenting and speaking, as well as the analytical nature of business.”
McCorkle has set her sights on attending the University of Georgia where she plans to major in Business Administration at the Terry College of Business.
Nick Haskin, Tessa’s nominating teacher was equally excited about her selection. “I am just so proud of Tessa for being selected to Governor's Honors...especially for being selected as a sophomore! She is an amazing young lady and the kind of student a teacher hopes for. She has found success in many areas, but has exceptionally excelled in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Competitions and will serve as President of FBLA for the next 2 years. With her area of focus being "Executive Management", her further training this summer will only continue to benefit her efforts and education through business over the next two years. We are very proud of all of her accomplishments, hard work, and determination."
Dr. Rehberg added, “I believe our nominees are among the most talented and gifted students around. The caliber of the students selected for this honor is evidence of the quality education and preparation these students receive. I’d like to thank Mrs. Laura Kornegay, Mrs. Melissa Rodgers, and Mrs. Nancy Rogers for all of their work and dedication preparing our students for GHP. Not to mention all of the teachers, nominating instructors, counselors, and administrators who have contributed to their education as well.”
Mr. Dale Lyles, Georgia Department of Education director of Governor’s Honors, said, “GHP is such a competitive program that even being nominated is an accomplishment. I congratulate the students of Thomas County and look forward to meeting them and their parents in June.” He added that many if not most of GHP’s past participants regard it as one of the most life-changing events in their lives.
More information about GHP can be found on the Department of Education website (gadoe.org) under the division of School Improvement.