The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

Georgia’s best and brightest: meet NC’s cohort for the 61st Governor Honors Program

James Auld, Neneh Bah, Gabrielle Johnson, Isabel O’Connell, Isabel Santiago and Collin Thompson
After an intense application process that spanned nearly an entire school year, five of NC’s enthusiastic and eager students advanced to the Finalist round of the prestigious Georgia Governor Honors Program (GHP). Through interviews, essays and discussion, these students showcased their passion for their subject matter such as Social Studies, Visual Arts, Biology and Agricultural Science. With their diverse array of both interests and perspectives, NC has helped in several ways to further engender a love for learning within these young minds for GHP’s 61st cohort.

 Founded in the mid-1960s, the Georgia Governor Honors Program (GHP) has engendered creativity, wisdom and passion in the spirits of thousands of students and alumni across the state. From majors such as Dance or Engineering, the residential summer program serves to further encourage the curiosity that already lives in the program’s applicants. As the weeks before the program’s 61st cohort quickly fly past, counties all over the Peach State celebrate their students who have accomplished this prestigious feat. For the 2023–24 school year, NC has produced five finalists — magnet sophomore Collin Thompson, junior Gabrielle Johnson and magnet juniors Neneh Bah, Isabel Santiago and Isabel O’Connell — for GHP61. As these scholars prepare to step foot onto the Georgia Southern University (GSU) campus this summer, The Chant wishes to highlight these students and their riveting accomplishments.

With over 3,000 students selected to advance to the state-level round, and less than 20% of them receiving an acceptance to GHP, NC has amassed quite the success in the number of students chosen to attend the program. Last year, eight Warriors attended the program from a wide range of majors, from Vocal to Communicative Arts to Chemistry. To continue this trend of excellence, sophomores and juniors across different academic disciplines ventured to this coveted summer program, and now possess the opportunity to experience the joy that GHP has to offer. 

Humbly beginning as an eight-week residential summer program at Wesleyan College, GHP initially set out to accomplish the same mission it has held since its inception: to further the understanding, intrigue and zeal for learning that students enter the program with. Over the course of the nearly yearlong application process, students continuously receive different prompts and mediums to further the idea of why they hope to pursue their proposed majors. After the final interview round at the college to which the program will take place that following summer, finalists receive a notification from GHP on the results of their extensive work. For these five students, their application portals showed them a green highlighted message filled with well wishes, next steps and a plethora of “Congratulations!”

Thompson, NC’s only sophomore for GHP61, helped highlight the uniqueness of NC’s International Studies magnet program (NCSIS) throughout his application. An excitable learner, his experiences partaking in Social Studies Advanced Placement (AP) courses, such as AP World History, helped to expand his intrigue in the field. Similarly, participating in magnet trips, such as the annual visit to Costa Rica and Panama, helped to provide Thompson with real-world applications of his passion for his intended major.

“[Being from an International Studies Magnet Program] definitely helped a lot. I feel like NC offers a lot of social studies classes and clubs, such as Model United Nations. NC also helped get me more interested in social studies as a whole, because I got to experience opportunities I would not have at other schools, and it has definitely helped build on my social studies interests and resume,” Thompson said. 

A recent first for NC, Johnson eagerly looks to shine at GHP as a Visual Arts major. As the current Public Relations Officer in NC’s National Art Honors Society, as well as the Fine Arts Program’s resident live artist, Johnson has spread her creative hand and unique style across campus. From Chalktoberfest to her work at the annual Black History Month events each February, Johnson’s eye for detail and a distinct flair for design reflects all over NC and brightens up the campus with each brushstroke. Alongside her participation in art classes, she similarly excels in the NC Orchestra and the TRI-M Honor Society, as a student leader, engaging performer and an inspiration to her fellow cohort. As she ventures to GHP come June, the talented Johnson waits eagerly to experiment with all of the art mediums her major has to offer.

  Bah, another member of NC’s magnet program, represents the importance of interdisciplinary learning as a high school student. As only the second Agricultural Science major to attend GHP from NC, her interest and intrigue in classes such as AP Human Geography and AP Environmental Science showcase the extent of her willingness to learn across several different subjects. With her active participation in clubs such as Able Warriors, NC’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter and Warriors of the World, the scholar shows a diverse array of interests, a successful concoction to take with her to GHP.

Throughout her interview process, Bah maintained her preparedness to learn and adapt to the expanding nature of her proposed major. With her own set of perspectives — and sense of style — the accomplished scientist aims to bring her own touch to the illustrious summer program. 

Across all accounts, O’Connell represents several facets of NC’s academic and social culture. The Biology and Environmental Science major participates in several clubs and activities around the school; as President of Eco Warriors and Medical Club, the junior leader of NCSIS Ambassadors and section leader for NC Marching Band’s Flutes, O’Connell busies herself through both her extracurriculars and her studies. Outside of school, she participates in Atlanta Irish Dance, an activity to which she has devoted several years to. As the prospect of GHP nears, O’Connell looks forward to intermingling with several different scientific disciplines at GHP to broaden her understanding of the field.

  “I’ve always really been into science. A lot of my family members are involved in science fields, so I have always been surrounded by that type of environment, and I have always really enjoyed it. For a long time, I have been interested in the medical field, and it’s hard taking classes related to that. I took AP Bio[logy] and absolutely loved it, and then this year I took AP Environmental Science and I realized environmental science was like my thing. I loved it so much, and that’s what prompted me to apply for Biology and Environmental Science at GHP, so I could explore both of those fields even more,” O’Connell said.                                                       

Santiago, a trendsetter in her own right, excitedly awaits to attend GHP and cultivate her own understanding as a fellow science major. Another Biology and Environmental Science major, she showcases both the discipline and the precision of any established scientist. In tandem with her success in the classroom, Santiago also shines both in and outside of NC’s halls. As one of the co-founders and the Meeting and Events Director of the Asian Student Association, Santiago’s persistent quest for inclusion and inspiration extends through each meeting, where she and fellow officers look to encourage all participants to learn and grow. In that same vein of innovation, Santiago also has ventured into the realm of professional dance, performing at venues such as the State Farm Arena, and popular conventions such as Hollywood Vibe.

Through different majors, walks of life and hopes for the program, the five GHP Finalists from NC stand as clear representations of the school motto: “Inspiring Excellence.” The Chant wishes nothing but success for each of these students. Congratulations!                                      

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About the Contributor
Ciara Whimbush
Ciara Whimbush, Copy Editor
One fateful day in 2013, Ciara Whimbush wrote a story about two girls visiting a witch’s house in the woods. Throughout the process, she stumbled across the thing that made her feel the most like herself: writing. As Whimbush embarks on her junior year as a member of NC’s magnet program, she aims to continue to expand her view of the world through a journalistic lens. As a newly minted editor, Whimbush excitedly looks upon this new school year to hone her craft and build upon her new discipline. She holds the field of social studies in high regard, as she actively participates in NC’s Model UN club, as well as HiStory Retold, an organization that seeks to diversify curriculums across classrooms. Aside from typing away on her keyboard, her other interests include spinning her flag and rifle on the NC Color Guard, baking sweets, making Dad jokes, taking pictures of the sky and indulging in various video essays riddled on YouTube. During her second year at The Chant, Whimbush hopes to become a better writer, an impactful editor and a citizen of the world; whether it be with interviews, articles, or exploring out of her comfort zone. Her main goal surrounds making her first-grade self proud of how far she has come.       

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