Jessie Goodson, news editor
|PHOTO COURTESY OF BERRY PUBLIC RELATIONS|
|Governor’s Honors Program students participate in service night with Action Ministries to benefit the Rome community.|
For the past 32 years, the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program (GHP) has been held at Valdosta State University, but this year it found its home at Berry.
This summer, Berry hosted 663 high school students who studied a variety of academic and arts topics. Each student ‘majored’ in their area of interest and were able to live as a college student for 4 weeks.
“It was like having 663 Berry students here in the summer,” Debbie Heida, dean of students, said.
GHP is a competitive program that thousands of Georgia students apply for each year. On interview day, Berry hosted over 1,600 students and their families on campus.
One outcome of this program was these students’ awareness of Berry. These students and all of their high schools received information about Berry, and many hometown newspapers wrote articles about the program.
“We hope these students are looking at Berry long-term,” Heida said.
It was no surprise that GHP was infused with some ‘Berry culture’. Berry partnered with Rome’s Action Ministries and worked on service projects with the students, including packing 3,000 meals, 1,000 activity packets and three-weeks worth of hygiene kits for people in the community.
“We were able to do a service project to say, ‘we want to welcome you to Berry culture, which is about our motto, not to be ministered unto, but to minister’,” Heida said.
Berry students who lived on campus over the summer were also able to help with the program, including junior Monty Wilson, who worked with the GHP theatre majors and on things like stage management and set designing.
“It was like practicing everything I’ve been taught,” Wilson said.
Not only were Berry students able to participate, but so were Berry professors. Kris Carlisle, professor of music, taught piano along with other music courses to students at GHP.
“I think it was a great experience for all of us,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle worked with these students every day of the program, and said that by the end, they were all sad to see GHP end.
Although the program brought a lot of good to Berry, it also came with some problems.
GHP students were encouraged not to interact too much with Berry students, so borders were set around campus. Heida said this was ultimately for safety reasons and many people said it would’ve been beneficial if they had been able to interact. Heida said that a committee is working to find a better way to approach this situation and better open conversation between all students for next year.
Richards Gym is also facing some foundation issues because of an overload of people and movement at a GHP dance. Berry is working hard to fix these problems in time for the locker rooms and dance studio to be usable this fall.
“We learned a lot in the process,” Heida said. “We’ll make improvements every year.”
Although the GHP program doesn’t have a contract that guarantees a long-term location, Berry invited them back and they will return to Berry next year.
“We are thrilled that they’ll be back,” Heida said. “It is our expectation that we’ll continue to have them back.”