High School Scholars Academy welcomes a new class


On April 1, high school students in Hickory, Catawba County and the surrounding area were notified of their acceptance into the Lenoir-Rhyne University High School Scholars Academy (HSSA). Since its beginning in 2007, hundreds of high school students have participated in the program, which allows students to enroll in undergraduate courses at LR while completing their junior and senior years of high school.

Students walk under an LR banner on a signpost with blooming trees in the background

“The HSSA program fully immerses students in university life, including in-person courses alongside LR students,” said Morgan Logan ’15, assistant director of undergraduate admission. “HSSA students have full access to all the university’s resources – academic support, tutoring, career services, the gym, the library, the labs. Plus, they can attend any student activities happening on campus.”

To meet North Carolina graduation requirements, juniors enroll in English Honors III and seniors in English Honors IV. HSSA students may also opt to take Advanced Placement (AP) Language and AP Literature. All English courses are taught on LR’s campus. Program participants may then take as many as three university courses at LR during the fall term and up to four courses during the spring term – earning college credit toward a degree at LR or for transfer to another institution.

To welcome their new classmates, students taking AP Language with Hollis Whalen, HSSA English teacher and program coordinator, shared some of their favorite things about the program.

  • Emily Ennis, Fred T. Foard High School, Catawba County: We’re a community. Everyone is kind and inclusive, and there is none of the typical high school social drama. 

  • Johanna Henriquez, Hickory High School, Hickory City: I have more free time throughout the day. My schedule feels balanced out.

  • Lorick Lee, St. Stephens High School, Catawba County: This program has transformed my high school experience into a manageable college experience. I appreciate the level of education I am receiving and the benefits of taking college-level courses.

  • Thong Doan, Hickory High School, Hickory City: I enjoy the freedom and flow of college classes, as well as the campus environment and the professors.

  • Ragan Lail, Bandys High School, Catawba County: As an LR student you are challenged to master time management and organization, and you learn to communicate properly with professors. It’s great preparation.

  • Ray Rushing, St. Stephens High School, Catawba County: I like how everyone is a family and is inclusive of one another.

  • Gabby Bryant: Hickory High School, Hickory City: The challenging coursework pushes me to be my best, and I like the freedom of campus life.

  • Elizabeth Weatherstone, Fred T. Foard High School, Catawba County: I love the community and the personalities this program attracts. I’ve made more friends here in four months than I did through all of middle and high school. Also, Mrs. Whalen is an incredible teacher who treats students as individuals and pushes us to succeed.

Whalen serves as the heart of the program for most HSSA students, providing the connection between high school and college life in the classroom and in the HSSA House on campus. 

Students walk to the Cromer Center across Shaw Plaza

“This program is important for challenging students intellectually, improving writing skills and learning to navigate a college campus,” said Whalen. “Students not only receive an incredible education from LR, but they learn important life skills they may not encounter otherwise.” 

For students who wish to join a future HSSA cohort, applications will open in fall 2024 for the 2025-26 school year.

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