Governor’s Honors: Where the Best and the Brightest Geek Out

Governor's Honors: Where the Best and the Brightest Geek Out

The Governor’s Honors Program local interviews have finally arrived after weeks of preparation and stress. On November 6th, 2018, seventeen students interviewed for a spot as one of the twenty-five kids that are selected to move on to the next round.

Berry College

The Governor’s Honors Program (also known as GHP) is a residential program for rising juniors and seniors. Students go through trials of rigorous interviews in hopes of being one of the few students that are selected to spend four weeks at Berry College during the summer. Finalists live the college life, complete with a major, minor, and dorm room. The program is very selective and very prestigious, so it is a huge honor to be nominated. However, it is a very lengthy process, and there are many steps one must take in order to be selected as a GHP finalist.

The first step is to be nominated by a teacher or staff member. Nominees are selected based on skill academically, socially, and maturity. They also must show creativity and passion in their nomination area, which includes agricultural research/biotechnology, communicative arts, dance, engineering, mathematics, music, science, social studies, theater, visual arts, and world languages.

The second step is the local interview. Nominees spend fifteen to thirty minutes being interviewed by past teachers, staff, and higher-ups in the county. Interviewers ask questions such as, “Why do you want to attend GHP?” and “What will you contribute to GHP?” These interviews are more conversational than expected.

The third step is the online application. Nominees are expected to complete all the required components, which usually includes essays, letter of recommendations, and essay questions of some sort. However, the task is determined by the student’s nomination area.

Cass’ GHP 2018 Nominees moving on to the online application (missing two students)

The fourth step is the semifinals. Nominees go to Berry College and perform tasks such as discussions, simulations, and auditions. These tasks are also determined by the nomination area. After this, nominees are interviewed yet again and are asked many of the same questions that were in the local interviews.

The fifth and final step is accepting the position. Finalists are notified and are offered admission. They only have to formally accept or decline.

This year, twenty-two students have been nominated for GHP and accepted the challenge. The sophomores are Jessica Bhika (Social Studies), Kayla Campbell (Fine Arts—Vocal), Phebe Carroll (Communicative Arts), Olivia Flynn (Communicative Arts), Makenzie Gaddy (Science), Zael Hurtado (Social Studies), Kyla Jenkins (Fine Arts—Clarinet), Jaden Musacchio (Social Studies), Isai Romero-Arellano (Math), and Bryan Wickenheiser (Science). The juniors are Atisham Ajmal (Science), Lexi Atilano (Science), Monzerrath Camarena (Communicative Arts), Caleb Doolittle (Science), Alice Draper (Communicative Arts), Hector Garcia (Communicate Arts), Ana Garibay Madrigal (Communicative Arts), Alexa Halpern (Communicative Arts), Karis Linley (Fine Arts—Vocal), Omkumar Maisuria (Engineering), Neleh McGivern (Fine Arts—Dance), and Erick Rodriguez (Fine Arts—Marimba).

For the seventeen that interviewed, the local interview was the first time being interviewed by people outside the Cass family. However, many agree that it went much better than expected. In a humorous, joint interview with juniors Atisham Ajmal and Caleb Doolittle—both of whom are nominated for science (however, Ajmal’s is specifically for biology, while Doolittle’s is for physics), they said they believed that the interviewers were much nicer than they initially believed they would be. Doolittle states, “I loved it. I feel like everyone has the same answer on this. The [interviewers] were very, very friendly and very open. They asked a lot of questions; I asked a lot of questions. Really, it was more of a conversation than a traditional interview would be. […] It was a very friendly environment.” Ajmal agreed, saying, “The questions were really related to me; [the interviewers] were interested. […] I thought they were going to be just really grouchy people in there. Like, ‘Okay. What do you like to do? Wrong! Ding dong, your opinion is wrong.’”

The school organized many mock interviews to help the nominees prepare for the interviews, and although they were more interrogations than the conversations during the actual interview, many students agree they are still extremely helpful and do a stellar job preparing the students. Sophomore Olivia Flynn, a nominee for communicative arts, stated, “The mock interviews definitely helped a lot. The teachers and administrators gave me really good feedback on what to do, what to say, what not to say, and that sort of thing. It also helped to get some of the nerves out, and it made me feel a lot more confident going into the actual interview.”

GHP 2018 Finalist Jenna Keeler at Berry College

Last year, two students from Cass were GHP Finalists: Jenna Keeler (Communicative Arts) and Brianna-Necole Gonsahn (Social Studies). When asked what being a GHP Finalist means, Keeler stated, “GHP finalists are among the best in the state with their crafts. While at GHP, we went to productions by some of the best student actors, heard poetry by some of the best student writers, listened to some of the most moving musical pieces I’ve heard in a young band. Finalists foster a sense of community and knowledge, partaking in their own miniature culture as they learn and grow. To be a GHP finalist is to work to be a better version of yourself.”

On Friday, November 9, the students that were nominated for fine arts—including vocal, instrumental, and dance—interviewed and auditioned at Woodland High School. These talented nominees went through the same interview, but they had to put on a performance as well, adding to the pressure.

If you want to be a future GHP nominee, Keeler has some advice for you. “The people at GHP are looking for passionate students willing to make connections with others,” she states. “Talk about what you love most about your subject, and be specific – even if it takes up a good bit of your interview. They want to know you have drive and devotion. Don’t be afraid to have a personality!”

As the nominees begin learning who is moving on to the online application and who is not, things will start getting tenser and progressively harder. But in the meantime, we wish these nominees the best of luck!