Elon Academy celebrates Eta class

Members of the Elon Academy's sixth class joined friends and family members May 28 to celebrate their success as they prepare for their college journey.

Students in Elon Academy’s Eta class wore T-shirts representing their future schools at a ceremony to celebrate their achievements with friends, family and academy faculty.

Schools such as Wake Forest and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were represented at the May 28 event in McKinnon Hall. Several Eta class scholars have received full scholarships to attend these universities, including two who received the Carolina Covenant, which guarantees them to graduate debt free. The sixth class of Elon Academy graduates represents all six Alamance-Burlington School System high schools as well as the River Mill Academy.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert began the celebration by welcoming the scholars and their families and praising the work they’ve done. He compared them to the members of the incoming Kappa class, Elon Academy class of 2019, who looked slightly nervous compared to the confident smiles exuded by the graduating Eta class. He thanked the families that committed the time and placed their trust in the Elon Academy during the past three summers.

“There’s no better investment that you can make in another person than an education,” Lambert said. “For every dollar Elon University and our donors have invested in the Elon Academy, you have multiplied that many, many, many, many times over.”

The amount of scholarship funds the Eta class has received surpasses $2.5 million, a record amount for the academy. Deborah Long, interim dean of the School of Education and professor of education, took time to thank many of the Elon Academy supporters including, Edna ’44 and Doug Noiles, whose lead gift funded the first year of the program in 1997. The Noiles remain actively involved in the program.

The Eta class heard from Lorenzo Davis, an Elon Academy Beta class scholar and a 2015 UNC-Greensboro graduate, who gave the advice to “take the extra hour” in college whether in academics, social clubs or personal growth. Also heard was Elon Academy Eta scholar, Jessica Judy, who gave a speech detailing her time as an Elon Academy High School scholar entitled “Reflection and Charge for the Future.” Jessica will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall and is a graduate of River Mill Academy (a public charter school in Alamance County). Patrice Wade, mother of Eta class scholar William Wade, also addressed the class and read the poem, “Don’t Quit.”

The ceremony ended with each student receiving a gift that included the book “Why We Can’t Wait” by Martin Luther King Jr.

Modeled after similar programs at Princeton, Furman and Vanderbilt universities, the Elon Academy is a year-round program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System who have financial need or have no family history of college attendance. It combines three intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic activities throughout the school year. Its goal is to inspire and empower students to attend four-year colleges or universities, and go on to assume leadership roles in their communities.

The Alpha and Beta classes have both graduated from college with an 82 percent graduation rate.