Willamette Academy celebrates its new home

by Tina Owen,

  • Willamette Academy Executive Director Emilio Solano speaks at the academy open house
    Willamette Academy Executive Director Emilio Solano speaks to guests at an open house celebrating the academy’s move to its new location in Fine Arts West.
  • People visit at the Willamette Academy open house celebrating the academy’s move to its new location in Fine Arts West.
    Students, staff and guests visit at the Willamette Academy open house celebrating the academy’s move to its new location in Fine Arts West.
  • Willamette Academy student provides a tour of the new academy facilities at the open house
    A Willamette Academy student provides a tour of the academy’s new facilities in Fine Arts West.

Staff and students welcomed visitors at an open house.

Wearing her red Willamette Academy blazer, 10th-grader Andrea Garcia Torres boldly announced to the assembled group her plans for the future: “I’m going to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.”

Willamette Academy helps local 8th–12th-graders like Torres work toward such dreams by attaining a college education. New, improved facilities on the Willamette University campus will now make it easier for the academy and its students to achieve their goals.

At an open house on April 5, members of the university and academy communities appreciated the new facilities in Fine Arts West. Previously, academy students had to split their time and activities between the Willamette Academy Annex on Cottage Street and Smullin Hall. The new offices on the second floor of Fine Arts West conveniently bring everyone together in a much larger and better equipped space.

A new era

“This move has physically ushered in a new era for the academy, and we’re grateful for the university’s support,” said Executive Director Emilio Solano ‘09. “Now we’re all under one roof, we’ll be able to accomplish a lot more for our students.”

The academy moved over three days in January. Students have already given their new space a warm, welcoming vibe by decorating with motivational posters, photographs, drawings and pennants from various universities. At the open house, Torres and several other academy students gave tours to visitors, proudly pointing out the computer lab with 20 computers and 16 additional workstations, the separate quiet study room, conference room, the offices where students can meet privately with mentors, and the room reserved for 12th-graders.

Speaking to an audience of about 30 people at the open house, Solano shared the news that the academy expects to graduate between 28 and 30 students this summer — its largest class ever. One student has already been accepted to Stanford and USC, while another has been wait-listed at Georgetown and George Washington.

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