What Cortona Academy Did for Me
A Personal Reflection By Nick Anderson
Before I came to Cortona Academy I attended Lake Braddock Secondary School, in Burke, VA. At Lake Braddock I was a total mess, completely disregarding all the potential that I had by associating with individuals whose interests were not commensurate with the future I desired for myself. My parents, more and more as time went along, began to recognize that I was hurting myself by becoming like my associates, through my drastically falling grades and through sparsely ever being home. As a result of that realization, they decided to nip my behavior in the bud before it would have become too far gone. They found a small, private school called Cortona Academy out in Herndon, VA and told me that I was going to go there, whether I liked it or not. This school truly did right my ways and allowed me another chance to utilize my potential to the utmost.
When I took classes at Lake Braddock from 2007-2010, I was just another face in the crowd. Classes were packed with students beyond capacity where some kids could not even benefit from a desk. For four years I went into classes feeling like teachers were not really focused on me, that I was not receiving the proper productive attention that a child my age needed. Also, in addition to feeling isolated at school, my family was going through a difficult era at the same time. The cumulative result of both these foundations of my upbringing being unstable drove me to find some semblance of stability with whoever could offer it the fastest, meaning that the quality of the new support network was of very low quality. Therefore, my grades, and my life, quickly took a nosedive for the worse. Luckily, my parents still cared enough about my future that they found a solution to my travails, sending me to Cortona Academy.
That being said, Cortona Academy was a different experience to me. I was used to a large school environment with over 4,500 students; coming to a school where there were only thirty or so peers was quite a change for me. However I was not aware of the skills which I could apply to college and general life that I would learn from my tenure at Cortona Academy. I learned how to be a fast, but productive, reader of difficult texts and textbooks. I learned how to take effective, memory-enforcing notes that helped me retain much of what I read. But even greater than the study-skills that I garnered from Cortona Academy, were the life lessons that I learned. I realized how important it is to do as much as I can while I had the privilege of youth; that all that I did as early as I could would greatly affect my life’s progression, either positively or negatively. Before Cortona Academy, the now was all that mattered to me. Adulthood and responsibility were a long way off. But Cortona Academy helped me to see that time really does fly and that I must be aware of that or time would pass me by. Cortona Academy truly did speed up my maturing process and helped make me the better, more social, and contributing member of society that I am today.
So what happened to me after Cortona Academy? I went to NOVA for almost three years because my father could not afford a more prestigious institution, and I worked at least 30 hours a week as well for most of that time. However, I earned 77 credits with a 4.0 grade point average throughout my academic experience at NOVA. That hard work I did at NOVA resulted in me being accepted into two distinctive academic honor societies whose networks are broad, with many great organizations, that can confer many benefits to their members, on their roster. This helped me to be a very highly considered candidate for a couple Ivy League schools, notably Cornell University and Columbia University, which I am now in the process of being formally considered for the fall 2016 semester at both those schools (and a few other less notable, but still very prestigious, institutions). Moreover, all the staff at Cortona Academy who helped save me from myself are still helping me today, with recommendation letters and personal support. Though I still have gone through a great deal of hardship after Cortona Academy (and I still am in many regards), I am in a much better position than I would have been had I not been placed at Cortona. And for that, I do owe Cortona Academy my deepest thanks and regards.