By Kendall Scott, Viking Fusion Contributor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga.–The annual Governor’s Honors Program has been cancelled as a result of COVID-19, making 2020 the first time the state has cancelled the summer program since it began in 1964.
Berry’s chief of staff, Debbie Heida, and the GHP leadership team collaborated to come up with scenarios that would allow Berry to offer the program this summer. However, with the health and safety of GHP students, faculty, and the Berry community at the forefront of their planning, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement felt the program could not take place safely.
The GHP, hosted by Berry College, is a residential summer program designed to provide academic, cultural, and social enrichment to rising high school juniors and seniors. After going through several intensive interviews and performances, there were 659 students chosen from thousands of nominations. Students were selected from each of the 12 economic development regions in Georgia to be named 2020’s GHP finalists.
GHP students to attend classes and participate in social opportunities on Berry’s campus. The students do not receive grades, but they are given the opportunity to experience academics and art in a creative way that allows them to explore their love of learning. Heida shares how the cancellation has left GHP students devastated.
“For many of them, this enrichment program serves as a much needed affirmation of their pursuit of excellence in intellectual and fine art activities in ways that are not possible in their high schools,” Heida said.
The students are not the only ones disappointed, as the cancellation has left faculty and staff disheartened as well. Heida describes how much of a joy it is to work with this group of students.
“Personally, I fully understand the decision but I, too, am disappointed. This program is such a joy to work with—the fine arts events are incredible, the students are bright and energetic and capable,” Heida said.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement plans to publicly honor the 2020 GHP finalists and hopes to include as many as possible in the 2021 program.
Berry College will release decisions about cancelling other summer programs on campus by May 15th.