The Honors Academy, co-sponsored by the UMKC Honors Program and the UMKC Trustees, offered non-credit classes on environmental justice, food culture, the evolution of cities and wildlife, and the culture and history of Kansas City.

Jaylen Newson, 15, a sophomore at University Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, was one of the twenty students who participated in the Academy. She is interested in marketing and real estate and discovered there is a lot to learn about her community during the Academy.

“I didn’t know about my own town’s history,” Newson said. “This is more than a college opportunity. This is a true experience. And I realized I don’t know a lot about my own culture.” As a result, she may consider African American studies in college.

Honors Academy 2021Margo Gamache, UMKC Honors Program director of Student Services, asked the Honors faculty to launch the Academy after she heard from parents who were looking for a summer program for their high schoolers.

“The Kansas City metro area has academically gifted students who want the opportunity to exercise their brains, have a college experience, and meet other students like themselves, who are excited to learn and want to change the world,” Gamache said. “We are happy that the Honors Program could fill that need.”

Henrietta Rix Wood, UMKC Honors teaching professor, said the Roo Honors Academy utilized the experiential learning that is a hallmark of Honors Program classes. “For my course about the culture and history of Kansas City, I took students on a UMKC tour with a visit to the Marr Sound Archives at Miller Nichols Library. We also went to a new exhibition of the work of African American artists in Kansas City at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and to the antebellum John Wornall House by Loose Park,” Wood said. “Before we went to each site, we read and talked about these places. When we returned to the classroom, we reflected on our observations and experiences.

Honors Academy at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of ArtStephen Christ, Honors Program assistant teaching professor, took students on several tours in his food culture class, including Whole Foods Market where they studied food labels and talked to store staff about food marketing. For his environmental justice class, Christ helped students explore local policies about recycling and sustainability.

“I guided my class through a few fieldwork experiences,” Christ said. “We documented waste in public spaces, compared different areas of Kansas City, and were even able to interview a few local community members.”

Harper Moothart, 17, will be a senior at Pembroke Hill in Kansas City. She attended the Roo Honors Academy to experience in-person classes at a university. Moothart is interested in studying law and environmental justice and would like to participate in a college honors program. She said getting the chance to have discussion-based classes through the Roo Honors Academy was helpful.

Victoria Chen, 17, a senior at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is interested in the B.A./M.D. Program at the UMKC School of Medicine. She said attending the Roo Honors Academy was the perfect chance to visit UMKC and see the campus.

Chen said her favorite part of the Roo Honors Academy was visiting the John Wornall House Museum and learning about the history. “It was a great way to meet new people and experience the city.”

Honors Academy 2021Honors Academy at John Wornall House Museum