The Georgia Governor’s Honors Program (GHP), recently completed its 56th consecutive summer program. For the third year, the program  was held at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. GHP is a four-week, summer residential program designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students challenging and enriching educational opportunities not typically available during the regular school year.

Before the summer program’s start, students were selected from an intensely competitive pool of approximately 3400 high school student applicants statewide. From that number, 658 finalists were selected to attend this year’s program; the finalists, all rising juniors and seniors, came from 86 school districts, 222 high schools, 43 independent schools and one home school. The major areas in which students were invited to participate included:  Agricultural Research, Biotechnology and Science, Communicative Arts, Dance, Engineering, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts and World Languages. Additionally, students chose an elective area from over 25 different courses, ranging from ballroom dance, to counseling, to journalism, to musical theater.

This year’s program was held from June 16 through July 13. Each student spent four hours in their major areas each morning, Monday through Saturday. They also took an elective course of their choice for two hours each afternoon, Monday through Friday. While students receive extensive feedback and guidance, no grades are issued. This approach allows students to take meaningful, and often empowering, academic and artistic risks—without the potential consequence of lowering their Grade Point Averages. In short, students are provided guidance, but are allowed independence to create, design, experiment and report findings without pressure of negative consequences for their innovative approaches.

Program manager Ricky Parmer stated, “This year’s student body worked intensively to push themselves outside their normal comfort zones in each subject area. They produced outstanding products across the board and developed relationships that they will surely cherish throughout their lives. It is truly a joy to witness students abandon their electronic devices and have face-to-face intellectual discussions with their peers, all while engaging in a unique learning opportunity that is rarely afforded to them. These are all elements that make GHP special!”


"It was such an honor to be a part of GHP. I’ve learned so much about myself both as a vocalist as well as a person and have made many friends whom I plan on keeping in contact with. On behalf of the ghp staff, professors, and Berry college, thank you for providing such a unique opportunity and I look forward to seeing how it expands for future GHPers."

"I just wanted to take a moment as I have arrived home in South Georgia to express my sincere gratitude for your work. My daughter had the very best of experiences possible in Rome at Berry College. I cannot overstate what a fine job the staff did with the students. I made a total of five trips to Rome and was able to attend three performances. It was well worth the 10 hour round trip every time! I have no doubt that the friendships she renewed and the new ones she started will be with her long beyond her schooling. Thank you for the opportunities you and your staff made possible."

"We’re beyond tickled that our son got to do this! He dug just about every minute and chance to play - huge, huge, huge, as you know. We enjoyed the concerts we were able to attend, and loved Cindy and Cloudburst. What a chorus, and that director guy was great. (He seemed to be having a lot of fun.) So glad your energy is part of GHP!"

"My son was blessed with the recent experience of the GHP program.  I am writing you to thank you and the staff for such an amazingly positive experience for all of the kids who attended this summer’s program.  I attended the concert on Friday night, and was simply blown away by the professional performance.  The show was excellent!  You could see both the students and teachers took great pride in this show.  From the initial introduction you set the tone for excellence and you could tell this was something special.  The energy of the student audience added to the overall performance as well.  I noticed on the way out of the auditorium that the excitement of the student audience continued as they were leaving, loading the busses,  and talking about the performance.  I myself left utterly speechless on the performance. 

I sat down with my son when he returned home, to talk about his experience and he simply said “words cannot explain how good this program is.  This was the best summer I’ve had”.  We spoke of the concert and I could see on his face how moved he was about how good all of the musicians were.  He spoke of the other acts with such pride as if they were his own.  He appreciated the talent and hard work that everyone brought to the show.

I want to thank you and the staff for putting together such an amazing experience and performance.  I have not stopped talking about it.  As a proud parent, I cannot thank you enough for the positive impact this program had on all of the students.  Congratulations on exceeding all of our expectations."

"First of all, thank you...if nothing else expresses to you what this program did for me than hopefully those words will, just simply, thank you.

Thank you for what?? Running the best and most eye opening program out there. GHP is truly special, it changed me, for the better of course. I walk, talk, eat, sleep, lead, follow, and everything I do differently because of it. It’s been only 3 days that I have been outside the confinements of Berry College and I have already noticed a change in my life, I spend less time on my phone, I am a better drum major at my school as I have noticed through these last few days of band camp, I listen better, I work better with others, and overall I am just happier. If I could walk up to everyone on the staff and personally shake their hands and tell them thank you, I would. It’s was a great experience that I never wanted to leave.

The greatest things about GHP was that the staff forced us to accidentally make the best friendships and learn the most we could just simply by design. Every small thing about GHP that was forced for us made some impact. The best example is that we were encouraged not to use our phones. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t laugh harder than I ever have simply because of not having my phone out. I met new people, clicked, and began laughing instantly.

So all of this is in short to say two things, one, it was an amazing program and it was run beautifully, and two, that I wish to thank you, you and your team do great work."