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Elon Academy welcomes newest class of scholars with special College Coffee

Monday's gathering on Scott Plaza in front of the Alamance Building offered an opportunity to welcome new and returning members of the Elon Academy, the university's college access and success program for local high school students.  

President's Office sponsored a special edition of College Coffee (featuring ice cream) to welcome Elon Academy students to campus. 

Large tubs of cold ice cream brought sweet relief on a hot, humid Monday as the Elon University community gathered to welcome new and returning members of the Elon Academy, the university's college access and success program for local high school students. 

Sponsored by the Office of the President, a special College Coffee on June 19 offered the opportunity to celebrate dozens of high school scholars from Alamance County who will spend the next month in a mix of academic and college preparation activities. Elon's Global Neighborhood residence halls will be home to 70 students who will participate in academic and college preparatory activities through July 14. 

The event offered new and returning Elon Academy scholars the opportunity to connect with Elon faculty and staff. 

​The ice cream gathering presented the chance for Elon's faculty and staff to meet new Elon Academy scholars and catch up with returning students as they begin their time on the university's campus. Launched by the university in 2007, the Elon Academy is an intensive college access and success program for local high school students with high financial need or no family history of attending college. It combines a month-long residential program over three successive summers with follow-up experiences during the academic year.

An opening ceremony on Sunday night for the scholars and their families included a welcome and honor ceremony, very similar to what Elon students participate at the start of each academic year.

The two returning cohorts — the Kappa and Lamba classes — are joined this year by the new Mu Class, which has 24 members from high schools around the county. During the summer session, they'll be working with nine Elon staff members and eight faculty members, along with more than a dozen mentors, most of whom attend Elon. 

Terry Tomasek, director of the Elon Academy, said the College Coffee gathering is a chance to help new scholars settle into the program, and for all the students to interact with those at Elon who can share their experiences with college life. 

"For the new scholars, it's kind of a nervous time because it's their first full day on campus," Tomasek said. "This is an opportunity to look someone in the eye, shake their hands, and ask them about the college experience, while also share their own dreams. It's an opportunity for the scholars to push themselves a bit."

The four-week summer program will conclude on July 14. 

​During the next four weeks, the scholars will participate in academic classes in the morning before moving to college preparation courses in the afternoon. Abigail Citty and Haley Garrison from Eastern Alamance High School along with Jasmine Wilson of Western Alamance High School are rising seniors, and started a sociology course Monday morning. Rounding out their quartet at the College Coffee Monday was Azlynn Hamlett of Graham High School, who will be studying criminal justice among other topics during the summer session. 

"Everyone in the academy is like one big family," said Garrison. "Elon Academy offers us relationships — with faculty, staff, Elon students and other high school students — that you don't have anywhere else."

The four students will undertake the college application process this fall, and it's a process they've been working toward since they started the Elon Academy as rising sophomores. From the start, they began making lists of colleges and scholarships, and are now moving to the point of working on application essays. That's a piece they were preparing to undertake during a session on Monday afternoon. 

Tomasek said that Elon Academy uses a "spiral" curriculum for college planning that's been developed during the past 10 years. The first level is an entry point to academic and college access skills, with each year building upon those lessons that have been learned and diving into more complex topics as students approach the college application process. 

"It's been preparing us for each next step in the process each summer," Hamlett said. 

Owen Covington,
6/19/2017 2:00 PM