Three Thomas County Central High School students plan to spend part of their summer break immersing themselves in pursuit of further knowledge about their academic and fine arts passions.
Juniors Sofia Jimenez, Tessa Thomas and Savannah Taylor earned acceptance into the prestigious Georgia Governor’s Honor Program. The summer intensive brings together some of the state’s brightest minds for a month of accelerated learning on a college campus.
Additionally, juniors Morgan Loper (music – piano) and Caleb Kinneer (music – Jazz, French horn) earned alternate positions. This status means that if someone in their selected field cannot attend, they have the opportunity to take that finalist’s place.
“Being selected for the Governor's Honors Program is a tremendous accomplishment and a reflection of the students' dedication to excellence,” TCCHS Assistant Principal Erin Rehberg said. “We are so proud of our finalists and alternates, and we know this will be a life-changing experience for them.”
Sofia Jimenez, 17, felt shock and happiness upon learning she earned a spot at GHP in social studies.
“I did not expect to actually get in because social studies is a very competitive field, but when I signed in to the online site and saw the acceptance message, I was so happy,” she said. “I am just so grateful for this opportunity, and I would like to thank Mrs. (Farran) Burnette for nominating me and Mrs. (Erin) White for doing my teacher recommendation. I would like to thank them for providing me with the tools I needed to succeed.”
Jimenez enjoys the healthy debates, discussions and differing perspectives found within her chosen subject.
“This is a major opportunity for me, especially for social studies, as I would like to major in history in college,” Jimenez said.
Tessa Thomas, 16, is very excited about her selection to GHP in Jazz vibraphone. She’d never heard of GHP before this year.
“I am very grateful for my nomination and my selection and all who were involved in making those decisions,” Thomas said. “GHP will provide me with an opportunity to grow both within and outside of my nomination area and learn from others.”
Thomas, who only began playing and studying Jazz a year ago, said her field is one in which she takes great pride and always wants to work within.
“My field of study is very freeing and never complete,” she said. “Jazz is built upon defying the normalities of society and music, so not only is anything possible but there is always more to do and more to learn.”
Savannah Taylor, 17, will take the stage at GHP in theatre performance. Taylor, a performer from a young age, never expected a nomination, much less a selection to attend the program. She anticipates this opportunity.
“I love theatre because the stage allows me to be whoever I want to be freely,” she said. “Every time I step into a new character, I get the chance to live many lives in one lifetime. Theatre performance is the perfect GHP study for me because I will be given the space to grow as a performer and thespian.”
The 2022 Georgia GHP event will take place June 19-July 16 at Berry College in Rome.
Thomas plans to prioritize broadening her skill set and learning from others while at GHP.
“Playing with the top Jazz musicians of the state is not an everyday activity, and I hope to learn from the experience as well as make new connections and generally enjoy the program,” she said.
Jimenez hopes to make new friends while exploring her field’s expansive offerings.
“Social studies is a huge field, so I can branch off into different sub-disciplines and gain friends in areas outside of history,” she said.
Taylor intends to grow as a student and person while learning more about the art she loves.
“An actor can never truly stop learning or mastering their craft, so I know GHP will allow me to step out of my comfort zone,” she said. “In South Georgia, there are not many theatre or artistic opportunities beyond school, so this honor gives me a chance to finally branch out in my passions. I get the chance to spend a summer with people who love performing just as much as I do, and that means everything to me.”