For 13 years, Greenwood Christian Academy has been home.
Ellen Hodson has attended the school since kindergarten. She met her best friend there, and has watched classmates grow into young adults.
When she walks down the halls, younger students who she tutors in math come up to give her a hug.
But Hodson, 18, is ready for her next challenge. She’ll graduate from Greenwood Christian Academy as one of three valedictorians and hopes to work toward a career helping children heal as an occupational therapist.
“I definitely love the small environment. The teachers help us grow spiritually and academically, and I’ve been able to make some great friends,” she said. “I’ve really liked growing up with my class and seeing everyone change.”
As valedictorian, Hodson gives her family back-to-back honors as the top student at Greenwood Christian Academy. Her brother, Michael, was valedictorian last year.
To be able to carry on what has become a family tradition makes her four years of hard work worth it, Hodson said.
But it’s also special to be able to share it with two other students.
“We all want each other to have it. That sounds weird, with the spirit of competition, but we’re all happy for each other and to stand by each other on that stage,” she said.
Throughout her high school career, math has been her best subject. She’s used her talent to help her classmates, spending time
during the school day to tutor those who struggling with algebra, geometry and other courses.
She played varsity volleyball, served on student council and is a member of the National Honor Society. As the editor of the school newspaper, The Cougar Chronicles, she helped inform the student body about sports results, upcoming arts events and pop culture.
“You learn all kinds of life skills, like working together, unity, things like that,” she said. “You can learn when it’s time to lead, and when it’s time to listen. I’ll use that in the future.”
Activities outside the classroom also helped mold her for success.
Twice each year, Greenwood Christian Academy hosts an event called Spiritual Emphasis Day. Students are let out of class to participate in trust-building teamwork
exercises. They had to rely on each other to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles and achieve a common goal.
Those will be the types of skills that Dodson will find vital in college and beyond.
“It really unifies a class to work together like that,” she said. “You get a chance to talk to people you otherwise wouldn’t get to talk to a lot.”
Hodson plans to attend the University of Indianapolis to study psychology, with the goal of studying occupational therapy in graduate school. Her dream is to work at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, helping cancer patients and trauma victims recover the skills they have lost.
“I’ve always loved working with kids, and that’s where God wants me to be, so I want to direct my career toward children,” she said.