Raising the Bar --- Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough!
by Athena Hamilton, Horizons Alumni
From a young age, Jena Smith was an avid learner, quick to take on new subjects. Though learning could sometimes seem limited, summers at Horizons made it feel infinite. "Doing school over the summer was really helpful because we never forgot anything,” Smith said.
Horizon's 6-week program prioritizes the development of reading and STEAM skills, aiming to improve a student's readiness for the next school year. Jena quickly grasps new concepts and prefers to learn at her desired pace which fortunately Horizons allowed her to do.
"I liked that at Horizons classes are based on whatever level you are on,” Smith asserted. "In school, everyone is on the same level." In her time at the program, Smith recalls being exposed to advanced literature and mathematics, providing the challenge she wanted in learning.
Upon graduating from Horizons and entering high school, her overachieving nature remained. Jena enrolled in AP (Advanced Placement) courses, prerequisites to college-level work. It was then she realized her love for the program extends past academics into something greater: family.
In her senior year, AP courses became difficult, but Horizons was "always there,” Smith claimed. "There were times I struggled with college-level Spanish in high school,” she acknowledged. "They got a tutor to help me."
Currently, Smith attends Kennesaw State University, majoring in public health education. She accredits her strongest bonds to the Horizons program, still connecting with classmates and teachers ten years later.
As an alumna, Smith has taken the plunge as a certified swim instructor for Horizons Savannah. She encourages current and new students to be free of judgment and open to all Horizons has to offer. Smith exclaimed, "Yea we're all a bunch of kids in a room, but we all have our own stories."