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Honors Academy: First Class - 10 lead the program to graduation

Cadets Spring Magazine 2018

By Ashley Wiehe

Ten Concordia students are standing among the academic elite this year. They have been pushed in their Cadet careers to be leaders, to think creatively, to serve selflessly and to meet the high standards put forth before them. 

They were the first at Concordia to call themselves Honors Academy students, and now they are the first to graduate with that honor.  

Begun in 2014, the program involves academic rigor and discovery, creative processing and research, mentor directed community service and leadership development as well as student bonding and support.

“We wanted to create something that was distinctive and special that allowed not only those students to excel in something that they really enjoyed but also to help round out their experience,” said Mychal Thom, Head of School who was the principal at the time of the program’s founding. 

Throughout the course of the program, students have participated in college visits, leadership speaker summits, service work with a consistent mentor, and now they are finishing up their senior creative research projects, which provides a capstone to the program. 

“The project has gone so well,” senior Taylor Schoenefeld said of her project to match different dog breeds to personality types. “I have learned so much and have had fun while doing it. … I expected this project to be kind of stressful, but it really wasn’t. It was a lot of work, but it was enjoyable. And I am so glad I had the opportunity to work on something that I am so interested in.”

The projects have ranged from an original suite of piano music to a culinary tour of Europe to an in-depth look at the differences between cultures. One student even created a new cross for the school’s auditorium. 

“Sometimes in schools there can be a stigma attached to being really smart and/or academic — caring too much about school can be seen by some students as ‘not cool,’” said Luanne Erdos, director of the Honors Academy. “While I don’t see that atmosphere here at CLHS, it is still invigorating, motivating and comforting all at once to be around other students who truly love learning.”

These 10 students join 34 others moving through the program on the path that they paved. Three of these students are also leading their class with the top honors: valedictorian Hannah Koch and salutatorians Benjamin Loshe and Abbey Brennan. 

“I believe that the Honors Academy has helped to raise the bar for all students,” Erdos said. “Students share their experiences of leadership development while tutoring their peers, talking during lunch about their visits to colleges in other states, and discussing the latest community service project they did — opportunities afforded to the Honors Academy students.”