Elon Academy documentary shares stories of program success

“Elon Academy: Preparation, Opportunity, Success” includes interviews with scholars, parents, faculty members and more.


An award-winning documentary about the Elon Academy debuted to the public for the first time Wednesday afternoon during public screenings inside the McEwen building.

“Elon Academy: Preparation, Opportunity, Success,” a 16-minute film that shares the history and purpose of the university’s college access and success program for Alamance County high school students, won an Award of Excellence from the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts, an international peer-review competition for faculty creative works.

The video was written and produced by Vic Costello, Don Grady, and Staci Saltz in the School of Communications. The trio worked in cooperation with Deborah Long, director of the Elon Academy, and shot much of the footage during the program’s 2012 residential component on Elon’s campus.

The documentary features stories from students, parents, Elon Academy alumni, Elon University faculty members, civic leaders and those who conceptualized and built the program, including Long and Elon University President Leo M. Lambert.

The academy each year welcomes select high school students in Alamance County who are academically promising with a financial need and/or no family history of college. It includes three consecutive summer residential experiences prior to the sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as year-round Saturday programs for students and families.

“The biggest opportunity that Elon provides by far is simply the creation of the expectation of success,” Lambert says in the film. “They know when they’re invited to be in the program that this is a big mark of confidence in them. It’s an opportunity for them to realistically consider that ‘this could put me on the road to college.’”

The video will be used to tell the Elon Academy story and achievements to prospective scholars and their families. It will also be screened to Elon University students who apply to be mentors in the program, Long said, and a shorter version will be produced to show prospective benefactors about the academy’s power to transform lives.