Special College Coffee welcomes Elon Academy scholars

Seventy-two local high school students will spend the next four weeks on campus as part of a college access and enrichment program.


Older teenagers look forward to continuing their studies of sheep brains and herpetology, while the younger students are more focused on making friends and getting acclimated to Elon University’s campus.

They almost all share one thing in common – a taste for ice cream.

Elon University faculty and staff welcomed on Monday the local high school students taking part this summer in the Elon Academy, an academic enrichment and college access program for highly talented Alamance County teenagers with no family history of college attendance or with financial need.

A special College Coffee outside of Alamance building gave Elon Academy scholars and university faculty the opportunity to meet over ice cream sundaes on the first full day of the Elon Academy’s summer residential program. The Office of the President sponsored the event.

Elon University launched the Elon Academy in 2007 to give students from local high schools the opportunity to embrace education, develop leadership skills and engage in various outreach venues. The academy is welcoming its sixth class of students into the program this summer.

“It’s a good program to be in,” Kile Hidgin, a rising sophomore at Eastern Alamance High School and a member of the Academy’s Eta Class, said of the Elon Academy. “It’s something we can benefit from for the rest of our lives.”

Several fellow scholars had similar thoughts. “Our parents are proud of us for doing this and they look forward to us going to college,” said Nathan Hendrix, another member of the Eta Class and a rising sophomore at River Mill Academy. “Once we grow up, we can then help take care of them.”

The ice cream social served as an opportunity for scholars to begin practicing some of the basic professional and social skills that make them stand out in their college searches and, later, career journey.

Professor Deborah Long, director of the Elon Academy, described how the high school scholars are also taught how to make eye contact with people they meet, how to shake hands, and how to hold conversations in formal venues. All were on display Monday when the scholars lined up to shake the hands of the faculty who will work with them this summer and beyond.

“We coach them. We work with them, talk about, and model the behavior that we want to feel natural for them in various settings,” she said.

Inspired by similar programs at Princeton, Furman and Vanderbilt universities, the Academy is a year-round program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System. It combines three intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic activities throughout the school year.

The Elon Academy is now serving 136 scholars, including those who have graduated and now attend college, and approximately 350 family members.