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Cortona Academy Graduates Awarded 1.336 Million in Scholarships

Eleven students of Cortona Academy’s 2021 graduating class received a record-breaking 1.336 million in college scholarships, the highest level since the Academy began in Northern Virginia in 1992. This achievement was accomplished in the midst of the 20/21 pandemic school year, with Cortona Academy remaining open for in person, face-to-face instruction the entire year. The 3.336 million is a landmark as being the highest level achieved for any Cortona Academy graduating class.

“At Cortona Academy I was immediately welcomed not just as a student, but almost as a family member,” said Lucas, “World of Dance” finalist. “Now as I’m off to college, I was accepted to four out of the six schools I applied to and was given an estimate of around $200 thousand combined scholarship from all four schools I was accepted into.”

Cortona Academy is embarking on its 30th anniversary year of educating students in grades seven through twelve in a revolutionary, non-traditional, low-stress educational environment, focusing on each student’s potential and lifetime goals.

“Our students are seen as individuals, respected for their innate abilities and gifts. We actually work classes around athletic and artistic competitions, internships and vacations. Why not? They don’t have to compete with one another in the classroom or be perfect students. We just replace the competition that exists in schools with hard work and provide everyone with top-notch courses taught by brilliant kind teachers,” stated Director and Founder Sharon Peruzzi Strauchs. “The idea is simple. Just help them when they make mistakes, allow them time to develop their own interests and guide them toward reaching their dreams. There is no failure here. This class of 2021 proves that potential-based education actually works.”

Cortona Academy teaches in-person with a 4-1 student-teacher ratio. The small class size guarantees a hands-on learning experience.

“At Cortona Academy, since the classes are so small, you can’t hide in the back with a puzzled look on your face,” said graduate Amanda. “My English teacher at the time always knew when I was confused and encouraged me to ask questions.”

Cortona Academy teaches students of all ability levels and unlike public and most private schools, students are not separated due to their disability status. Instead, at the Academy, all students have the same learning opportunities that elevate their critical thinking skills and quality of education.

Additionally, Cortona Academy’s proprietary HTS-3 (Hi-Tech Speed Study Systems) ensures that students not only excel in high school, but they also graduate with crucial study skills for college-level classes. Cortona Academy is dedicated to their students’ ENTIRE educational future.

“The college-level courses cover advanced material, but are easy to understand, thanks to the genius teachers at Cortona Academy,” said Jacob, class of 2021.

Graduating Class of 2021

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College Acceptance Rate All with MERIT Scholarships of 40K to 160K Since 2009

Student Testimonials 2021 Graduates
Winning 1.336 Million in Merit Scholarships

Meet Lindsay

“Before coming to Cortona Academy, I struggled to focus and keep up in class. During 10th grade, I realized it would only get harder and something needed to change. So, I started attending Cortona in the middle of that school year. Even though I had to start over and complete the entire 10th grade, I was able to do so with the great support of teachers and the unique setup at Cortona, which included make-up weeks where I could catch-up when needed.

In 11th grade, I really enjoyed the Friday field trips, especially the viewing of an open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, the bi-weekly field trips had to end due to the pandemic and classes were moved to Zoom. This was very challenging, so being able to be in the classroom for my senior year has been a blessing. The small class sizes and personal attention are invaluable.

I’ve been very grateful for the in-person classes this year. Being able to socialize with my classmates everyday has been amazing. Learning on Zoom is much more difficult for me. All of my extracurricular activities were on Zoom for the majority of the school year, and they were far less engaging than before.

Now, as I look forward to college, I feel I am well-prepared because of the things I’ve learned at Cortona. I learned how to be prepared for class and have tools for studying effectively. I’m sure there will be new challenges, but I am hopeful my experience at Cortona will help me get through.”

Meet John Paul

“Cortona Academy has given me so much in an education. Being able to complete the National Bronze and Silver Medals I could not have done without Cortona. Field Trips at Cortona gave me a great experience to learn about history and different cultures. Before Cortona I had no desire to learn, and I was a struggling student. Cortona gave me the resources to succeed. I never thought I would be in this position graduating high school with a 3.9 GPA.

Receiving the National Award from Congress at Cortona Academy was my biggest achievement. Through the Congressional Award I was able to complete so much in my community. From repairing houses, to being a ball person for the Citi Open, I have learned so much. I was also able to complete many trips, including going to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to learn about the Amish Community and traveling to Memphis and Nashville to learn about music. None of this would have been done without Cortona Academy’s help.

The teachers here are phenomenal and really care about their students. Whenever I needed help with anything, I knew Cortona Academy was going to be there to help. When I came here, I could not write at an adequate level. However, with the help of Cortona my abilities have improved to levels I never thought were possible. Also, because I am an athlete, Cortona worked around my schedule so I was able to do practices and tournaments, which have really improved my game. This school has given me so much; such as helped me be accepted at my dream college. That is something I never thought was possible. I am so grateful for the experience at Cortona Academy.”

Meet Ethan

“Entering my first year of high school, I realized early on that I was different from my peers. I was not enrolled in any honors or advanced courses, while most of my friends were. This bothered me at the time, because even when I tried hard to get good grades and remain on top of my work, my grades remained average or below average. With every new year I thought that it would be my year to finally prove to myself and everybody else that I could do well. Every year my grades were barely better, and I started to lose hope in my academic abilities. I had just accepted the fact that the way I learned was not going to be how the school taught, and I would always be at a disadvantage.

Halfway through my junior year, I began to struggle even more. My mother noticed my struggle and began to search for help. I started working with a tutor and staying after school for extra help. Even with this, I still struggled in my classes. After having enough, I found Cortona Academy and was intrigued by how different the school was. After visiting and reading up on the school, I knew that I could excel and reach my academic goals here.

I have now been at Cortona Academy for a whole year. Although most of that being during the COVID-19 pandemic, I still excelled and had the help that I needed that I did not get in public school. My GPA before Cortona Academy was about a 3.0 and it is now a 3.6. If I had not transferred here when I did, I do not think that I would had been as successful as I have been in my academics. I do not think I could have gotten into any of the schools I have gotten into such as VCU, GMU and ODU and committed to James Madison University to study biology.”

Meet Amanda

“Entering my freshman year of high school, I was under a lot of stress and pressure. Being a varsity athlete and missing classes due to games made me very anxious. The anxiety increased especially in my math class freshman year because we were taught a certain way how to do a problem. If we solved a problem a different way or didn’t show each specific step we were supposed to, we would lose points. Ever since I was younger I knew I learned differently, and the school I attended struggled to understand that.

I have always been a very good student. I am always on top of my homework and very rarely miss assignments. One element of school I struggled with was asking questions. At Cortona Academy, since the classes are so small, you can’t hide in the back with a puzzled look on your face. My junior year English class had three students, including me. My English teacher at the time always knew when I was confused, and encouraged me to ask questions. Before that point, I was never encouraged to ask questions; it seemed frowned upon.

The best part about attending Cortona Academy, by far, is learning new strategies that I can use in college. Cortona Academy has made me ready for college. The three column note system, created by our amazing Director, has put me way ahead of the game. I am ready for those long lecture halls and those big ten thousand-page textbooks! This year of COVID has been long and tiring, but I was fortunate enough to have a full year of in-person learning. Not many people get to say that. I am grateful for my time at Cortona Academy and I am looking forward to the college adventure.”

Meet Jacob

“Cortona Academy has helped me very much. I was having difficulty with school, and Cortona gave me the environment I needed to succeed. It has good accommodations and an excellent curriculum. While I used to dread going to my previous schools, I greatly enjoyed my time at Cortona Academy.

Before Cortona Academy, I had difficulty focusing on my work and would get overwhelmed with uncompromising workloads. At my final year before Cortona, at my previous school I missed a week of school due to illness; however, they did not allow me to catch up. Because of this, I transferred to Cortona, where I finished my work before the next school year began.

Cortona has an excellent system where I could do work at my own pace to keep up with the curriculum without being overwhelmed. Deadlines are lenient, but still exist to keep you motivated. The college-level courses cover advanced material, but are easy to understand, thanks to the genius teachers at Cortona. Cortona Academy helped me find success, and I will be forever grateful for my time here.”

Meet Shikhar

“Before Cortona Academy, I was a man of my word with nothing to say. I was the type of kid that knew his way around tests and homework, but never felt like doing them. I was constantly slacking and behind my class regardless of how easy it was for me. I was sent into side classes for organization and management. but sooner or later my counselor didn’t think I was meant for them and thought that I was stupid. Many grades were low because I got 0’s for not turning homework in on time. Once I joined Cortona Academy, however, things changed.

At Cortona Academy I was first skeptical about how effectively I would work here. The original reason I chose a private school was because of the lower amount of people that would be there and because I wanted to leave the people in my old school behind. Not only did Cortona give me a bunch of friends that were nice and didn’t act rude at all

the time, the academics were suited to my style. I knew what I was doing because of the teachers and the deadlines that weren’t set in stone. This way, when I personally knew something had to be done, I did it without anyone yelling at me about how it is one day too late. The curriculum was easier to understand due to two factors: one, how the students around me act, and two, how the curriculum is to-the-point.

This is the main core of why I loved my time here. The students around me were never talking in class or distracting me; they simply did their own thing. I was never criticized by them nor mocked for not doing my work. At Cortona Academy, students are more reformed and seem to intuitively know what pressure from other students can do to someone. The curriculum was another stepping stone to my success as it went straight to the point. Public schools teach arbitrary parts of the subjects which teachers would say are related to it, like learning about the history of a famous mathematician which didn’t seem to gel with my understanding of math. Also, in order to make the curriculum more advanced, they don’t teach you more about math in math class; they would teach more about things related to math, like the history of a useless concept or a very pointless way to do something which could have been done easily by another method. Here, in advanced math, I actually learned advanced math, nothing extraneous to waste my time. In calculus, I learned integration; in physics I learned particle physics. I learned what really mattered to the subject, and didn’t waste my time on busy work. This was the case in all my classes at Cortona Academy.

All in all, the curriculum here is rigorous but fun and easy to learn which is why I am happy that this was my high school.”

Meet Lucas

“Before my time at Cortona Academy, I had no desire to participate in, let alone graduate from high school. I found school a waste of time and because of that I was unfocused and unmotivated. I was barely getting straight C’s and my academic life was a mess. That’s when I made the switch to Cortona Academy, near the end of my freshman year at Riverside High School.

At my previous school, I was shown no love and given no help from the staff and faculty. I was always a kid that needed a little extra push from the people around me, and in a public high school setting, the teachers didn’t seem to care enough to give me that. This is when the switch to Cortona comes in to play. At Cortona Academy I was immediately welcomed not just as a student, but almost as something like a family member. I was not only shown love, but I was given the extra push I needed by the teachers, especially Mrs. Strauchs and Amber. I went from C’s to A’s almost immediately, all thanks to the staff and faculty here.

Now as I’m going off to college, I was accepted to four out of the six schools I applied to, and was given an estimate of around $200,000 combined scholarship from all four schools I was accepted into. Pace gave me $110,000, Rider gave me $80,000 and Temple and Syracuse both gave me $20,000. I credit my success academically to the staff at Cortona and it was truly a pleasure to have been a student, as well as a member of the Cortona Family at this amazing school. I have committed to Rider University in New Jersey, and although I can’t wait to continue my career in musical theater there, I will always treasure my time and the memories from Cortona Academy.”

Meet John

“Before my school life at Cortona Academy, I was at a loss. I was just a person rolling around on a ragged path. I really didn’t care for the work I was doing. I was not thinking. Just like a robot, I was memorizing and writing information down. I did not really gain any critical thinking skills…just followed the flow.

That all changed when I came to Cortona Academy. Here I was taught to really think about the work I was doing, not only to evaluate what work I was given, but also to expand upon it. To think about the work first and form my own opinions about the subject, use my own understanding to work on what was given is how I learned to learn, while being pushed and encouraged by my teachers,

Cortona Academy helped me improve my writing. It also taught me to take the initiative and helped me explore interests in different fields and helped me with the college application process. I am now motivated to learn and am never left “out of the party.” With the group activities, the extra time to allocate yourself, and the teachers who will encourage you. There is no other place I would rather have spent my final years in high school.

In the future I will definitely recommend Cortona Academy and keep the memory in my heart that I was given the tools and access to improve myself to an awareness level that would have never been possible had I stayed at my previous school. They never gave up on me even when I had given up on myself. For that, Cortona Academy has my greatest thanks.”

Meet Arian

“Cortona Academy is a place that has given me so much. From the stellar academics, to the fascinating field trips, there is so much I’ve learned in my time here. Cortona has given me the tools to expand my knowledge in so many subjects.

Before Cortona, I was a struggling student with no drive to learn, frankly, the victim of public education. Cortona gave me the tools to expand my knowledge base to levels that were not possible in public school. The teachers at Cortona have given me the opportunity to dive deeply into the subjects in which they are experts and accomplished professionals in their individual fields, which is quite different from the teachers in public schools.

My time at Cortona has given me so much. My horizons are broadened in ways I cannot explain. Thanks to Cortona, I intended to pursue a career in medicine. From the National Award Programs through Congress, to the merit scholarships I was granted for college, there are so many things I have achieved here. I am proud to say that Cortona unlocked my full potential. This is something for which I’m forever grateful.”

Meet Madison

“Coming from a public school, I did not have good study skills and I rarely took notes for my classes. Cortona Academy has made me a better student and strengthened my writing skills. The teachers are caring and want their students to succeed. Cortona Academy and its teachers have given me the opportunity to dramatically improve my academic abilities to be prepared for college.

When the nation shut down, it was hard to stay motivated during the pandemic. Resuming school online was something that I never experienced. I would say that it was an overall good experience, but different. Seeing my classmates and teachers through a computer screen was a hard reality to face. I am glad Cortona Academy was face-to-face for my entire senior year, making it as normal as possible in the midst of the pandemic.

Cortona Academy has given me the ability to reach my full potential as a high school student. I am forever grateful and will remember the time I spent here. The teachers and staff always made the effort to make classes fun and interesting. With Cortona Academy’s help, I will never forget the skills I learned that will help me in the future.”

Meet Taylor

“Cortona Academy has given me the opportunity to reach my full potential as a high school student. With a public school background, I was one of the many students that teachers had and felt that my education lacked due to the stress of the deadlines and end-of-year testing. In a different school environment at Cortona Academy, I feel that teachers care about my success and helped me reach my goals.

Due to the unexpected pandemic, schools shut down across America, and many students began online learning. Luckily, Cortona Academy was well-prepared and helped me complete my junior year. I still got to learn via Zoom, but the teachers were always available to help. I am very fortunate to have been in face-to-face classes for my entire senior year. They have been very helpful in trying to normalize the new norm with trying to educate us like in pre-pandemic days.

Cortona Academy made me a better student. I developed note taking and writing skills I never had before. With Cortona Academy, I feel prepared for college and know that I have what it takes for the next steps in my future.”