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Students chosen for honors program

COVINGTON - Some Newton County students will be in school this summer not because they failed a class, but because they want to learn more.

Five Newton County high school students have been invited to participate in the 2008 Governor's Honors Program at Valdosta State University this summer.

The schools initially nominated the students for the program, and the students advanced to the state Department of Education for interviews and testing, after which they were chosen by state officials to attend the program.

Newton County School System students chosen as finalists are four Eastside High School students - Ashley Aycox, a 10th-grade student who will concentrate on Latin while at the summer program; 11th-graders Cody Caho (music/voice) and Jowanna Malone (Latin); and 10th-grader Naomi Wills (communicative arts). From Newton High School is 11th-grade student Geoffrey Nolan, who will concentrate in social studies.

"We are so proud of these students and their accomplishments," said Dr. Kathy Reese, director of high school curriculum for NCSS, in a press release. "The Governor's Honors Program becomes more competitive each year. Our students have once again met the challenges and excelled in their areas of giftedness. We thank the teachers of these students, as well as their parents, for their support."

Almost 700 rising junior and senior high school students in Georgia's public and private schools were invited to the free program, which is scheduled for June 8 through July 19 and funded by the Georgia General Assembly.

"The Governor's Honors Program is a six-week summer instructional program designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students challenging and enriching education opportunities not usually available during the regular school year," according to the Georgia Department of Education Web site.

This summer will be the program's 45th year - one of the longest running programs of its kind in the nation.

Students choose to major, or concentrate, in one of 19 areas, such as agriscience, English, foreign languages, math, science, social studies or art, and minor in four support areas - computers, counseling, library/media and physical fitness.

"It changes somewhat every year; it's not a static program," said Phil Hulst, director of learning support for the Georgia DOE. "We've added programs ... that certainly reflect what is happening now in the curriculum. It makes it more focused."

During the summer program, students will take classes six days a week, Monday through Saturday. They will study in their major in the morning and minor in the afternoon, while at night they will take seminars.

"Their days are pretty full ... and they can only leave once during the summer, but they love it," Hulst said.

Also during the program, students may get a visit from Gov. Sonny Perdue and State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox, among other state Board of Education members and guests. Almost every day will consist of a major event, such as a concert, coffee house visit or art show.

Those students who were selected but who cannot attend the summer program will have their seats given to alternates.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Governor's Honors Program finalists:

Student, grade, school, concentration

· Ashley Aycox, 10th, Eastside High, Latin

· Cody Caho, 11th, Eastside High, music/voice (bass)

· Jowanna Malone, 11th, Eastside High, Latin

· Naomi Wills, 10th, Eastside High, communicative arts

· Geoffrey Nolan, 11th, Newton High, social studies