• Mary Harrison

Governor’s Honors Program cancelled due to COVID-19

On Monday, April 27, 2020, Georgia Governor’s Honors Program finalists and alternates, including Cairo High School Juniors Kenna Anderson, Mary Harrison, and Aaron Mora, were informed that the summer program had been cancelled, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. “It has become clear to us [the GHP staff and Berry College] that we cannot guarantee the safety of our students, instructors, and/or staff with any version of a traditional residential program, nor can we provide an online experience that mirrors the opportunities/qualities of the residential program,” wrote Governor’s Honors Program Manager Mr. Richard Parmer. Mr. Parmer said that the program is, “working on ways to properly honor our rising senior finalists and to provide an opportunity for rising junior finalists to be admitted to the program for next summer,” although he recognized that the experience of attending is “irreplaceable.”

“These are unprecedented times,” Mr. Parmer said, noting that this is the first time the Governor’s Honors Program has been cancelled since it began in 1964.

Mrs. Brittany De Plato, CHS guidance counselor and GHP coordinator for CHS, told The Red & Black, “I was ecstatic to learn that Mary and Kenna were selected as finalists for GHP and would have the opportunity to attend this summer, so when I read the email from GHP stating that they made the difficult decision to cancel due to COVID-19, I was so disappointed.”

Mrs. De Plato, CHS guidance counselor and local GHP coordinator.

“Mary and Kenna both worked so hard for this opportunity and have expressed how impressionable just the interview process was. Knowing that for the first time in many years, the Syrupmakers were going to be represented at GHP was exciting,” she shared. “I am hoping that GHP comes up with an alternative opportunity that allows Mary and Kenna to connect with other GHP finalists and educators,” Mrs. De Plato shared. “Despite the disappointment that GHP will not go on as it has in past summers, I am incredibly proud that Mary and Kenna were recognized for their talents.” Kenna, a GHP finalist in Communicative Arts shared: “I’m devastated, but I know they can’t take a risk of us getting sick."

“To all those that helped me along this journey and gave their support: I’m eternally grateful,” Kenna said.

“Applying to GHP has been a long process for me; hearing that I won’t get to enjoy the final destination is really disappointing, but I know they want to keep us safe,” Mary, a Social Studies finalist, said. “I am so thankful for all of my teachers and counselors who have walked through this journey with me, and I know God has a reason for me getting to spend this extra time with my family this summer.”

Aaron, an alternate in Voice who would have attended the program if a finalist had declined their offer, commented that "having the honor to be [a] GHP alternate is a blessing."

"It's sad to hear that it got cancelled... I hope everyone stays safe at home."

“[The Georgia Governor’s Honors Program] is held in mid-summer (mid-June to mid-July) as a residential educational experience on a college or university campus. [Rising Juniors and Seniors] attend classes in the mornings and afternoons in specific areas of study, and they participate in a wide variety of social and instructional opportunities every evening,” according to the website of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, which sponsors the program. “The program offers instruction that is significantly different from the typical high school classroom and that is designed to provide students with academic, cultural, and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators, and leaders.”

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