Canton AcademyBy ALISON MARTIN,
Special to the Sun
Caroline Terry’s very earliest memory of being at Canton Academy is being in Mrs. McKay’s five-year-old kindergarten class. “I always got in trouble for not sitting still and wanting recess to be an all day, every day event,” remembers Caroline - who has trouble sitting still even now.
Early on, Caroline found many activities to keep her busy. “I took piano lessons in elementary, which was the first avenue for me to really develop my interest in music. I also played trombone in the fifth and sixth grade band and was on the Little Panthers basketball team. In the fifth grade, I discovered my love for tennis that carried me throughout all of junior high, high school, and college. These experiences taught me discipline and patience at a very young age. Going through elementary at Canton Academy opened a lot of doors for me. There was always something for me to be involved in that would better me for the future.”
Not only were there activities to keep her engaged, there were many teachers who influenced her and her classmates, but ask her which one made the biggest impact on her and one comes to mind. “My favorite elementary teacher was my first grade teacher, Ms. Charlotte Wilson. Her immense love and care for her students always made me want to go back to her classroom even after moving on. She’s the type of person that never seems to be having a bad day. Her spirit was – and still is – so incredibly contagious. She made learning fun and inspired all of us to do our best.”
Junior high and high school can be tough on some students – feeling lost and overlooked. Caroline found her place in Panther athletics and other student activities. “I played tennis, basketball, and ran track and cross country. I was also able to be on Student Council and be the Panther mascot. Being on the athletic field for most of my time really made me learn to manage my schedule. I experienced wins but I also experienced a lot of losses. Losing grew my character far more than winning did. We experienced some transition between coaches while I was at CA, and that forced me to really develop leadership skills and see the extreme importance of unity within a team. Facing adversity along with my fair share of mistakes prepared me for responding to the hardships I now experience today.”
Caroline’s mom, Linda, said “CA gave Caroline a sense of belonging. All the opportunities she had really helped in developing her into a well-rounded person. CA was always a safe place to land and Caroline could really be herself... CA impacted Caroline in a way that enabled her to impact other people.” And she certainly has been impacting people. After high school, Caroline went to Meridian Community where she played tennis for two years. After her time there, she transferred to Belhaven University and played another two years of tennis. She also served on the Belhaven Leadership Council, lead worship for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), and was an Orientation Leader. This year, she was elected Belhaven’s homecoming queen and has recently graduated with a degree in Biblical studies.
“Coming from a smaller school [Canton Academy] enabled me to be involved in a lot of things and helped me to grow tremendously. I think I was really able to discover a lot of who I was while being at Canton Academy because I was surrounded by a safe environment. I knew after leaving CA that I was still very much supported and that my time at CA had provided a great foundation for me to further succeed,” said Caroline.
For the Terrys, Canton Academy has been kind of a family tradition. Dr. Joe Terry started in sixth grade, and Caroline’s brother Walt (attorney for Young Wells in Ridgeland) and sister Murray Ann (director of operations for Sledge and Company in Madison) both started in kindergarten and stayed through graduation. Linda said, “The best thing about sending our kids to CA was that we knew who was teaching our children and who was in class with them and who their parents were. Sending Caroline and her siblings to Canton Academy made it easy for us to really be rooted there. All three of my children got what they needed at Canton Academy because all of them have thrived.”
Caroline’s most recent adventure will begin this fall. “I got involved with RUF at Belhaven in the fall of 2016 after being an orientation leader. I was really drawn to the ministry because it was a place full of community and growth. It is an environment where you are confronted with the realities of the Gospel and encouraged to rest in those truths. This summer I will be heading to the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC to be an RUF Intern. This internship is a two-year commitment where I will be working under an ordained Campus Minister, leading Bible studies, organizing ministry events, and serving the students of USC.”
Building relationships and community are important to the faculty, staff, and students at Canton Academy. To learn more about where students kindergarten through twelfth fit in at CA or to donate toward Caroline’s RUF internship, visit Canton Academy on facebook or their website www.CantonAcademy.org.