‘I know everyone in my class... well, everyone in school,’ says senior Jeb Bailey about what he has loved about being a student at Canton Academy (CA) for the past three years. This theme of close friendships, athletic opportunities, and individualized attention from teachers runs throughout upper school students who transfer in from area larger, public schools.
In her third year as CA Director of Admissions, Jenny Wadford says, ‘I recognize that my experience as a shy, introverted junior high and high school student with major anxiety in a large public school may have been totally different if I had been in a smaller setting like Canton Academy. I definitely would have had the confidence to try more things, be involved more, and step out of my comfort zone. Meeting my husband who played lots of sports and was still friends with everyone in his graduating class at CA made me realize what I wanted for my own children. Our boys are in ninth and 10th grades, and I’ve never regretted the fact that we made the necessary sacrifices to give them the opportunities Canton Academy offers.’
‘Trying more things’ is something new CA sophomore Brooklyn Ladner has embraced completely. She played softball in the summer and fall and just this week started track practice. She has never run competitively before but is excited about trying pole vaulting this year for the first time.
Sophomore Collin Gray came in as a freshman last year and never looked back. ‘[CA] provides a great environment for learning. The small classes and helpful teachers are great. RenWeb gives me easy access to keep up with my grades. Canvas and online programs make it easier for me to do my work and get feedback.’ Collin recently joined the CA cross country team, which is new to him and he’s loved it, but probably the biggest impact he’s had on campus has been as the Panther mascot. Collin comes to all the varsity football games, dances at every pep rally, and even joined the cheerleaders for a choreographed routine. ‘I’ve always wanted to do this, but my old school didn’t have a mascot so it wasn’t possible.’
Recently named Homecoming Queen, senior Aislynn Cochran has been a Panther since eighth grade. ‘The whole atmosphere is different here – quiet and no cell phones in the buildings. I can actually talk to my teachers, and they make time to help me. I love Mr. [Mark] Millet’s art class and his videos!’ Aislynn is also involved in many sports – softball, cheer, basketball, track, archery, tennis. ‘Coaches work with each other on practice times, so you can fit all the practices in among sports and school work.’
Aislynn’s mom, Misti, has seen a difference in her. ‘We moved Aislynn to Canton Academy because we felt like she would really benefit from the smaller classroom size and the student-teacher ratio of a small school. Her grades have improved tremendously, and she is so much more confident about her education. It’s such a wonderful feeling to get to know the administrators, teachers, coaches, and other staff personally. I can pick up the phone at any time, day or night, and reach someone if needed.’
After Aislynn’s first year at CA, her younger sister Madelynn saw what a positive experience Aislynn was having and asked if she could transfer to Canton Academy, too. Her parents moved her the following year. Aislynn and Madi are both involved in multiple sports and get to participate in many extracurricular activities that probably would have not been possible at a large school.
Misti adds, ‘We love the [Canton] community and decided to move here a few years ago to be closer to the school. [It was the] best decision we have ever made for our family. We recently opened a business here and have no plans to go anywhere anytime soon!’