Elon Academy celebrates eighth class 

Members of the Elon Academy's Iota Class were joined by friends, family and supporters on May 16 for a celebration of their success. 

Members of the Iota Class of the Elon Academy with Elon President Leo M. Lambert and Terry Tomasek, director of the Elon Academy. 

In a display of pride and accomplishment, members of the Elon Academy’s eighth class lined up Tuesday night clad in T-shirts declaring the names of the colleges and universities they will attend this fall. 

Friends, family and supporters gathered with these young scholars in McKinnon Hall to celebrate what each has achieved as they head toward high school graduation and the start of their college careers. It was a recognition of the power that the Elon Academy, now in its 10th year, can have in the lives of Alamance County students, and a show of appreciation for those who help the college access and success program have a lasting impact in the lives of the students it serves. 

“I hope you appreciate what beacons you are for other young people who will follow you,” Elon President Leo M. Lambert told the soon-to-be high school graduates. “You are leaders and people are looking up to you because of your accomplishments and because of your achievements. We’re just so incredibly proud of you.”

Lambert thanked those who support the Elon Academy with both their time and financial contributions, noting that the program offers a tangible example of the return that comes from investing in education. He offered his thanks to the parents and family members of the Iota Class for trusting in the Elon Academy and working with the students throughout their educational journey. 

​For the last decade, the Elon Academy has served promising high school students in Alamance County with financial need and/or no family history of college. The academy 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. 

This year’s 13-member class — the Iota Class — received more than 55 college acceptances and accumulated more than $1.1 million in merit-based scholarships. Six secured full financial funding from schools such as Elon University, Georgetown University, Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Fayetteville State University. 

Elizabeth Sobalvarro-Franco, a member of the Class of 2017 at Graham High School who will be heading to UNC-Charlotte this fall, offered her thoughts on behalf of the Iota Class, and encouraged her peers to continue to strive and persist even as they are faced with failure. 

“Never forget the words, ‘falling forward,'” Sobalvarro-Franco said. “Fall forward and keep crawling until you reach the light.”

Caleb Garner, now a member of the Class of 2018 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reflected on what the Elon Academy meant to him as a student at River Mill Academy, saying that his involvement in the Elon Academy gave him the confidence to succeed in college and the support network to help pick him up when he was down. 

Finally, Darsha Corpening, the mother of Iota Class member Mykkah Corpening, who will also begin at UNC-Charlotte this fall, shared with the crowd how the Elon Academy had impacted her daughter and family. 

The ceremony ended with each member of the Iota Class receiving two books — “The Best American Nonrequired Reading,” a collection edited by Rachel Kushner, and “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from ‘What Will People Think?’ to ‘I Am Enough'” by Brene Brown. The books were a gift from the Eta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Elon.