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Georgia Department of Education Recognizes Union Grove High School Student as a 2024 Georgia Scholar

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Henry County Schools (HCS) is proud to announce that Harshika Garlapati of Union Grove High School was recognized as a 2024 Georgia Scholar by the Georgia Department of Education.

The Georgia Scholar program is a highly competitive statewide recognition program that honors students for their academic achievements and contributions to their school and community. Garlapati was among 177 graduating seniors across Georgia who were selected for their accomplishments throughout their four years of high school and will receive a seal for their diplomas.

“We are immensely proud of Harshika for this amazing achievement. She is a remarkable student and will be an excellent representative of the Georgia Scholar program,” Principal Dr. Ryan Meeks said.

The Georgia Scholar program specifies eight criteria set in state law that students must meet to receive the distinction:

  • Earn at least 22 Carnegie Units of credit for graduation with a required number of units in specific subjects
  • Have a minimum combined score of 1360 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or a composite score of 31 on the American College Test (ACT) at one test sitting
  • Have a non-weighted, cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.75 on a 4.0 scale
  • Be a registered voter, if a United States citizen and 18 years of age on or before the date of application
  • Provide evidence of self-esteem and concern for others in daily activities
  • Participate in at least three (3) different competitive interscholastic activities
  • Appointment by a school official or elected to positions of leadership in a minimum of two different organizations sponsored by the school
  • Evidence of leadership in a minimum of two different organizations outside the school, including being appointed or elected to a position of leadership or role of responsibility in a minimum of one of these activities 

“When I received news of this recognition, I was very surprised and honored,” Garlapati said. “This acknowledgment validates my dedication and hard work over the past four years with the help of my peers, family, and mentors. It also inspires me to continue pushing boundaries and striving for more.”

Garlapati's well-deserved award was based on noteworthy community and academic pursuits that surpassed the program’s minimum requirements. For instance, Garlapati currently has 30.5 Carnegie Units of credit and will have 34 upon graduation, as opposed to the 22 required of Georgia Scholars. She scored 1510 on the SAT, exceeding the requirement for Georgia Scholars by 150 points. She also maintains a 4.0 GPA while balancing various school- and community-based activities.

She is the treasurer of Union Grove’s accomplished SkillsUSA chapter and has competed in SkillsUSA's Quiz Bowl Competition for the last three years. The team placed first in the region each year and second in both the 2022 and 2023 state competitions. Most recently, the team placed first in the 2024 SkillsUSA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference and will compete in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in June.

Garlapati is also a member of Union Grove’s Academic Team, Beta Club, National Science Honor Society, National Mathematics Honor Society (Mu Alpha Theta), and secretary of the Spanish National Honor Society. She was also a member of the team that placed second in the 2023 Griffin RESA District Math Competition.

Garlapati’s love for math inspired her to serve as a tutor with her school’s peer tutoring program. Her passion for math drives her desire to help other students grasp mathematical concepts and motivate them to explore different perspectives when tackling a problem. She assists with STEM lessons and volunteers in other capacities in elementary schools across the district.

Her commitment to making a difference also extends to the wider community. Through her involvement with the Spanish National Honor Society, Garlapati aided the Pulsera Project, an international organization, by selling bracelets made by artisans in Latin American communities.

She has also volunteered at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta during holidays and festivals and participated in the Youth Leadership Henry program, which allowed her to meet local industry leaders and learn valuable leadership skills.

The exceptional student intends to study computer science at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.

“As technology continues to advance and artificial intelligence develops further, many people fear the implications of AI and how it impacts society and human safety,” Garlapati said. “I want to reduce this fear while advocating for technology that improves efficiency. After college, I plan to work at a company that aligns with my ideals and provides essential skills and experience in my field. My primary goal, however, is to create a cybersecurity startup aimed at protecting online users’ safety.”

Garlapati was among 12 HCS students recognized by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce earlier this year in the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) reception, which recognizes academic excellence on the SAT.

“My motivation stems from various sources,” Garlapati added. “I am a first-generation immigrant, and my parents’ tireless work ethic and endless support inspire me to consistently put forth my best effort. Additionally, I received overwhelming support from the community as an immigrant to the United States. That motivates me to give back in any way possible and leave a positive mark on the world. Much of what motivates me also stems from my genuine interest in learning new things. I always look forward to intellectually challenging myself and exploring different perspectives.”

“Congratulations to Harshika on this remarkable achievement,” said HCS Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Knowlton. “She represents the ambitious ‘Pursuit of Exceptional’ we seek to inspire in all of our students across the district, and we can’t wait to see how she continues to make a positive impact in our community and beyond.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.