Elon Academy celebrates return of summer residential experience with ice cream social

Sixty-six Elon Academy scholars gathered at Scott Plaza on Tuesday, June 14, as they begin their summer residential program.

The 66 high school scholars in the Elon Academy gathered at Scott Plaza for an ice cream social event Tuesday celebrating the return of the program’s signature summer residential experience.

Elon Academy scholars talking during the Ice Cream Social event at Scott Plaza on June 14.

“The ice cream social is about more than ice cream,” Elon Academy Director John Pickett said. “It’s an opportunity for students to become acquainted or reacquainted with members of the Elon Academy who will serve as important resources on their journey to college.”

Elon Academy is a college access and success nonprofit housed within the Center for Access and Success. Elon Academy scholars are typically on their way to becoming the first in their families to attend a four-year college and/or face significant financial barriers to paying for college.

This year’s summer residential experience, the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is designed to mirror college life and prepare scholars for everyday college life with a day filled with academic classes, co-curricular, service and cultural experiences, as well as college planning and campus visits. These classes and experiences integrate reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking skills and emphasize the importance of collaborative, organizational, study and time management skills to increase the potential for success in both high school and college.

Director of Elon Academy John Pickett (left) speaking with two Elon Academy scholars.

Emma Mays, a rising senior at River Mill Academy in Graham, said in the nearly three years she’s been with the Elon Academy, she’s noticed her growth as a student and person.

“Academically, I’ve grown in what to expect and how to take what I’ve learned and apply them,” Mays said.

The scholars are treated as “special Elon University students’ and are given Phoenix Cards with access to the Writing Center, Campus Recreation & Wellness facilities and Belk Library. “There’s a lot of opportunities to grow as an individual while you’re here,” Mays added.

Christen McAdoo, a rising senior at Graham High School who is currently enrolled at Alamance Community College as a full-time student, said she’s become more disciplined as a student because of the Elon Academy. But she is also equally as excited to connect with her fellow scholars and start the foundation for lifelong friends during the three-week residential experience.

“I’m excited to make new friends and create new memories,” McAdoo said. “I’ve got to meet more people within the younger cohorts and I feel like the friendships that we’re making .. we’ll have even after college.”

Pickett said that a significant part of the Elon Academy’s success is the relationships established between Elon community members and the scholars and their families. Jose Pahua is also a rising senior at Graham High School and echoes this sentiment of the strong community that Elon has.

“That fact that we have mentors that are also college students and they tell us about their experiences … it’s surreal because we’re about to become college students soon,” Pahua said.