Presentations & celebration bring an end to summer for Elon Academy
Prior to a Friday evening closing ceremony, high school scholars in Elon University’s college access and success program shared with family and friends the lessons they will carry with them from their summer experience on campus.
The Elon Academy college access and success program ended its eighth summer on the Elon University campus Friday with presentations of learning and a closing ceremony that encouraged scholars to build on their personal and intellectual growth when they soon return to high school.
Family and friends of the 69 scholars comprising the Theta, Eta and Iota classes of the Elon Academy filled Whitley Auditorium to celebrate that growth with the younger students.
Elon University Provost Steven House welcomed guests to the July 11 program. In his formal remarks, House described his online search of “success stories” to illustrate how many people have accomplished great things by working hard. He charged the scholars seated before him to imagine their own successes and then take steps to achieve them.
“From this day forward, you are in charge of writing your own success story. Aim high. Be fearless. Stay focused on your dreams and your high expectations,” House said. “And always, always remember that we have faith in you. You are part of the Elon Academy because you are intelligent and strong, and because we believe in you.”
The ceremony featured the performance of “Come Up,” a song written by scholars in the “Bring the Noise” academy summer course focused on philosophy, race, gender and hip-hop, and a photo slideshow showcasing memories from the past four weeks. Katie LaPlante, the academy’s assistant director of counseling and family programs, also addressed the audience with words of encouragement.
The ceremony included remarks as well from Quinton Rone, a rising senior at Graham High School. Rone read the first draft of his future college application essay and recounted his mother’s persistence to always challenge himself and set his sights on college. From his earliest years until her death in May, Rone's mother never stopped pushing him, he said. Though she is no longer physically present, she remains with him in memory.
Rone received a standing ovation as he was embraced on stage by Jaron Torain, the lead male mentor for the 2014 summer program and a member of the Elon Academy’s inaugural Alpha class.
Torain and Stacey Crutchfield, lead female mentor and another member of the Alpha Class, had only moments earlier delivered a tribute to the scholars. “Look how much love and support there is. We may not always be there with you, but we will always be there for you,” Torain said. “We have loved watching you grow and mature during your time at the Elon Academy. The future excites us and we cannot wait to see all that you accomplish.”
Launched by Elon 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. The academy is a multi-year, year round program beginning in the summer after the ninth grade and continuing to and through college.
The eighth annual closing ceremony was preceded by presentations of learning in the Alamance and McEwen buildings.
“The presentations are an opportunity for scholars to share not only what they’ve learned in class this summer, but what they’ve learned about themselves,” said Associate Professor Terry Tomasek, director of the Elon Academy. “We sometimes think of this evening as a ‘launch place.’ The summer program has brought them to here and ‘launches them out’ until we start meeting during the school year.”
The youngest scholars in the Iota Class shared with their audiences a habit they intend to develop as rising high school sophomores based on their recent study of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey. Theta Class scholars - those entering 11th grade in the fall - spoke on what they learned in the academy and how they plan to apply their knowledge to school.
Eta Class scholars, rising seniors completing their final summer stay with the academy, read drafts of admissions essays they intend to submit with college applications in the upcoming year.
New this summer was a separate presentation in a McEwen building theater by 10 scholars from the Theta Class who traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of an innovative service-learning class, “Twenty-First Century Leaders Addressing 21st Century Challenges.” The project explored the topic of poverty and how it applies to the educational, healthcare, and legal systems, with a particular focus on the barriers to and opportunities for college access for first-generation, low-income or minority students.
Three members of the Alamance-Burlington School System, and the principal of a nearby high school, attended that presentation.
“Students think of what they learn, how they learn, and what they can do with it,” said Oscar Soto, a student at Hugh M. Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina, said in the presentation. “We no longer look for just how much we know but what we can do with what we know.”
For more information on the Elon Academy, visit www.elon.edu/elonacademy.