School over the summer? Most students would prefer to steer clear.
But for some Chamblee students, Georgia’s Governor’s Honors Program (GHP) offers a unique chance to dive deeper into a subject area that interests them.
“I applied [to GHP] because I’m very into environmental and agricultural sciences, but there’s not a lot of places where I can get the experience I need in order to go into it in college,” said sophomore Hattie Carter.
Sophomores and juniors apply in September to participate in the five week program at Berry College over the summer.
“You pick an area of focus that you’re really passionate about as your major and then you go through three rounds of interviews and/or auditions. When the judges see that you really are committed to whatever subject area you’ve focused on, then you get into the program,” said junior Alyssa Wu.
Wu applied for German after having studied the language since elementary school.
“Unlike a lot of other subjects, I feel like German really builds on itself, and over the years I’ve been able to see how my German has improved. I guess I wanted GHP to be a sort of self-validation thing,” said Wu.
Sophomore Anish Jaisinghani also applied as a German major.
“In first semester, I really enjoyed in German,” said Jaisinghani. “I like speaking German and debating controversial topics in German. I thought that if I got experience with that over the summer, I could build my German knowledge and be more prepared for German V next year.”
Carter had a similar motive for applying.
“I really like learning a lot and I get bored over the summer,” said Carter. “Our school has a good environmental science program, but we really only have APES [AP Environmental Science], so that’s why I started the environmental club this year and why I’m applying as an agricultural science major.”
After submitting an application, students participate in group interviews at DeKalb Early College.
“I’m the only agricultural science major in DeKalb,” said Carter. “They didn’t have a protocol for the interview, so they were like ‘we’re just gonna kind of make this up as we go.’ I walked in and it was just these two guys and we sat down and they had a conversation with me about high school and what I wanted to do after high school.”
The German interview was more structured, but not much more stressful.
“The first round isn’t really an interview,” said Jaisinghani. “It’s more like one person gives a topic and you and a group have to talk in German about it.”
After the first round of interviews, students submit a second application with a few essays and then have their finalist interviews at Berry College.
“We found out were accepted on March 30,” said Wu. “The day before spring break.”
Expectations are high for these high achieving learners.
“I’ve heard from people who have gone before that it’s basically the best summer of your life because you’re surrounded by like-minded people and you get to experience things that you don’t get to experience in a normal classroom,” said Carter.
These avid learners don’t consider GHP to be just more school during their time off.
“I wouldn’t consider it school over summer,” said Jaisinghani. “It’s more like an enrichment type of thing that allows me to build my interests and knowledge of German.”
Wu also plans to use GHP as an enhancement of her German skills more than an opportunity to learn more German.
“Our level of German at Chamblee is relatively high, so people say it’s not so much learning as it is just engaging with other students from Georgia who also like to learn German.”
Whatever the program brings these students, they have no doubt that it will be worth their time.
“A lot of people have said it’s one of the best experiences they’ve ever had,” said Wu. “I can’t wait.”