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Alumni Voices: Interviews on College Preparedness from The Summit’s Class of 2020

McKenzie Blakey receives her diploma from Head of School, Kathryn M. Heet, Ed.D (July 2020).At The Summit, our high school program is aimed at preparing students for success in college and beyond. Our progressive, inquiry-based model focuses on student-led, project-based learning through a challenging, integrated curriculum with opportunities for experiential learning and community engagement. Summit high school students participate in college preparatory courses enriched by a collaborative learning environment. Faculty serve as facilitators while students take responsibility and initiative for their own research, writing, and presentations. Graduates of The Summit’s high school program demonstrate important 21st century skills including critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, communication, collaboration, character, and citizenship. 

For the Class of 2020, these skills were put to the test in the spring of 2020 when schools made the sudden shift to distance learning to preserve community wellness and to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Seniors across the country were suddenly faced with a very different reality than they had envisioned for their high school tenure as virtual proms and graduation ceremonies hosted on Zoom became the new normal. At The Summit, our seniors faced the challenges of distance learning with grace and confidence, equipped with the self-management skills necessary for collegiate and professional success. 

A progressive education at The Summit encompasses the following academic and character education goals:

  • Embraces the Joy of Learning
  • Proves Advanced Academic Mastery
  • Excels in Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity 
  • Models Responsible, Global-Minded Citizenship
  • Exhibits Independence, Responsibility, and Self-Motivation
  • Embodies Growth Mindset and Social-Emotional Intelligence
  • Demonstrates College Preparedness

 

As we reflect on our first semester of our successful re-entry and return to seated instruction, we connected with two of our recent graduates, Evan Mason and McKenzie Blakey, to see how they have navigated their first semester of college and how their Summit education has prepared them for new challenges and a new academic landscape. 

Evan Mason

Class of 2020

Grade(s) Attended at The Summit: Kindergarten – 12th Grade

College/University Currently Attending: Baylor University

Major(s) Declared: Neuroscience (Pre-Medicine program)

    1. What has been the best part about college so far? There are many great things, but one of the highlights has been meeting people from all across the country and learning about their unique experiences and views.
    2. What has been the biggest challenge or adjustment? The biggest adjustment has probably been that many class exams are based entirely on the textbook rather than lecturing done by the professor(s). This was initially frustrating because it could make the lectures feel much less consequential despite them being more engaging than reading the textbook, but I got used to the arrangement as the semester went on.
    3. What is your favorite class, and why? Neuroscience – All of my professors were very engaging and personable whenever I met with them outside of class. Additionally, I thought all of the material that we covered was fascinating, so I am excited for my upper level classes.
    4. How has The Summit prepared you for your college experience? The most obvious example is public speaking. In my rhetoric class, we had to deliver multiple speeches, which was nothing special compared to the presentations we used to give at The Summit. However, many of my peers had never practiced this skill before and had great anxiety about the thought of speaking in front of the class.
    5. Compared to others in your current school, please discuss your view of your own abilities in the following areas:
      1. Communication Skills: I think that I was able to comfortably talk to my professors and get to know them because of my experiences in dual enrollment classes and the training I did in the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS) program. This was a big advantage compared to many of my peers. I also received many compliments on my writing abilities from my professors.
      2. Creative Problem Solving: The diverse array of projects that we did at The Summit definitely helped me come up with creative solutions to problems in college. Whether it be developing study strategies or completing open-ended assignments, I feel that I was well-equipped from my Summit education.
      3. Collaboration: Peer reviewing others’ work was a common practice in some of my classes, and I think that I was able to give valuable and constructive feedback. This was because of the many hours of practice at peer editing papers I had accumulated in various classes at The Summit.

        Evan settling into college life with his suitemates at Baylor University (August 2020).
    6. Were you involved in any dual enrollment or dual credit courses at The Summit? If so, how do you feel these experiences/classes prepared you for college learning?Yes, they were very beneficial in preparing me for the style of college exams and homework. For dual enrollment classes, it was also helpful to practice getting to know the professors on my own, whereas it was a guarantee that I would get to know my teachers at The Summit.
    7. What type of extracurricular activities are you involved in at college? If prevented by COVID-19 restrictions, what programs would you like to be involved in? I played intramural volleyball and football. Next semester, I would like to play club tennis and participate in a club that promotes undergraduate research.
    8. What plans do you have for your future career? I plan to attend medical school after college and then become a doctor.
    9. What advice do you have for current Summit learners? For high school students: The more you can build time management skills while the stakes are lower, the easier your life will be in college.
    10. What is something you haven’t explored yet that you would like to learn in your lifetime? I would like to learn a new instrument like the guitar or bass.

McKenzie Blakey

Class of 2020

Grade(s) Attended at The Summit: 1st Grade – 12th Grade

College/University Currently Attending: Belmont University

Major(s) Declared: Christian Leadership

  1. What has been the best part about college so far? The best part of college so far has been the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. I’m a very social person, and I’ve tried to get involved in different things so I can meet new people.
  2. What has been the biggest challenge or adjustment? As mentioned above, I am a very social person, so the restrictions due to COVID-19 have made it a little difficult to be social and get involved. Also, I much prefer in-person classes, so it has been challenging for me because all of my classes are at least partially online.
  3. What is your favorite class, and why? My favorite class last semester was my “first year” seminar class. It was basically an introduction to college, and we did a lot of reading, writing, and group discussions. I really enjoyed that class and felt like I was able to get to know those classmates the best. This upcoming semester, I am most excited for my introduction to the New Testament class because I also really enjoyed the Old Testament class I took in the fall.
  4. How has The Summit prepared you for your college experience? The Summit has prepared me in many ways for my time in college. Thanks to The Summit, I am very confident during public speaking and presentations. The Summit also adequately prepared me for working with other people on group projects.

    McKenzie is all smiles in her new dorm room at Belmont University (August 2020).
  5. Compared to others in your current school, please discuss your view of your own abilities in the following areas:
    1. Communication Skills: I feel like my communication skills are definitely as good as, if not better, than my classmates. The Summit helped me learn how to communicate through presentations, papers, and even forms of communication such as emails.
    2. Creative Problem Solving: I feel like The Summit has prepared me well for creative problem solving. I would say that my ability to think outside the box, which was instilled in me at The Summit, is very adequate.
    3. Collaboration: The Summit has prepared me for collaboration and working in a team. It’s difficult to compare my collaboration skills to the abilities of my classmates (due to the virtual nature of my classes), but I do feel like I am confident in group situations.
  6. Were you involved in any dual enrollment or dual credit courses at The Summit? If so, how do you feel these experiences/classes prepared you for college learning? I was involved in several dual enrollment/dual credit classes at The Summit, and I felt like they were incredibly helpful. They helped give me a better idea of both the workload and expectations of a college course. I also really appreciate The Summit’s flexibility, which allowed me to take a few college classes at Drury University. I would highly recommend that high school students take full advantage of dual enrollment/dual credit opportunities. I was very grateful to enter college with some credits already completed.
  7. What type of extracurricular activities are you involved in at college? If prevented by COVID-19 restrictions, what programs would you like to be involved in? COVID-19 restrictions did make it slightly difficult to get involved in extracurricular activities, but I tried my best. I joined two campus ministries, Belmont Wesley Fellowship and Nashville Young Life, and I have plans to join the Belmont Recruitment Team. I’m hoping restrictions will be slightly relaxed in the spring because I would love to join the hiking club, the book club, and possibly a sorority.
  8. What plans do you have for your future career? My plan and dream is to become a youth pastor. I’ve given thought to becoming a lead pastor, but for now my passion and intention is to pursue youth ministry.
  9. What advice do you have for current Summit learners? My biggest piece of advice is to not take your time at The Summit for granted. Enjoy every moment with your classmates, teachers, and even your classes. My favorite part of The Summit was the amazing community that supported and influenced me during my twelve years there. Don’t get me wrong, college is absolutely amazing, but I do miss The Summit family.
  10. What is something you haven’t explored yet that you would like to learn in your lifetime? I feel called to missionary work, so I would like to explore the mission field at some point.
McKenzie (far left) and Evan (far right) having fun in science with Mr. Powers (Fall 2016).

To learn more about The Summit’s high school program, check out the Upper School blog at www.thesummitprep.org/upperschool. The Summit is now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year. To learn more, please contact our admissions team at admissions@thesummitprep.org or by calling 417-869-8077.

 

Evan and McKenzie at their 2020 High School Graduation Ceremony.

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