Elena Cannon: Summer and Saturday Programs to Theatre Department Freshman

Written by Michelle Feliciano
Mother of Elena (Theatre ‘22)

Elena has always had a love for the arts, so it was no surprise that The Academy would be her first-choice high school. Elena first heard about The Academy at an open house in the 7th grade where we learned that there was a Saturday Intensive program to which we could enroll. After just a few sessions she was quoting Shakespeare!


Throughout that program The Academy left a serious impression on us both. As a parent, you only want to be sure your child is well balanced, happy, and adjusted — especially in high school. She knew from the workshops that The Academy was the only place she wanted to be.

“I belong there, Mom. It’s the best place anyone would want to learn.”

The day we received the acceptance letter both of our lives changed. I now feel like I have one of the happiest teenagers out there.

Coming from a CPS background, the transition to a private high school was scary. I had no idea what I was doing. The placement tests, financial aid, scholarship forms, and recommendation letters — as a single mom I was more overwhelmed than ever. Kitsana and Jessie in the Admissions Department couldn’t have been more helpful walking me through the process. There was no question too large or small that they didn’t take the time to answer. They both always had such enthusiasm and sincerity when speaking to me. They set an expectation and tone for The Academy.


As we near the end of our first semester, and I’ve had time to get to know the staff and students, it is clear that the enthusiasm, sincerity, and energy here is infectious. I have never seen my daughter so excited to learn — with such a positive attitude toward her schoolwork, even her academic classes. It amazes me how much she has grown as a performer and with her work behind the scenes in the theatre. I have never come across a group of children who don’t mind being at school from 8:30-6 p.m. It is a true testament to the staff and Head of School.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that my daughter was starting high school. I panicked thinking of all the things I need to teach her and prepare her for. But each day that I see her personal growth — I hear her speak or watch her perform — I know that we made the best decision and investment in attending The Academy. I am thankful that she has found a place where she can grow into her own in an environment that promotes healthy relationships and self-image. A place that is just as invested in her academic career as it is in the arts. A place where the faculty and staff would call “home”.