Alumni Reflection - Academy at the Lakes

Alumni Reflection: Marie-Christine DeRomagna ’14

As a freshmen English teacher, I have the pleasure of teaching each high school student as she begins her journey. However, prior to having taught Marie Christine DeRomagna ’14, I noticed her contagious smile, infectious enthusiasm, and warm personality. And when I finally had the opportunity to have her in my class, my suspicions were confirmed – this girl was the real deal. Not only did she work hard in class and give every assignment her all, she encouraged others by example and through her positivity. Marie Christine embraced all that Academy has to offer – the morning handshakes, the special assemblies, the extracurricular activities, the challenging curriculum.

Marie-Christine is entering her junior year at Stetson University and plans to major in communications and media studies with a minor in marketing.

– Kim Vreeland, Upper Division & A.P. English Instructor

cabaret night

Words by Marie-Christine DeRomagna ’14

I have wanted to write something to commemorate my time at Academy at the Lakes for a while now; I was just waiting for the right words to describe the feeling.

I’ve had a few epiphanies and realizations after having left for college. Most of them took me about a year to fully grasp or come to terms with, though I’ve always known deep down.

Academy prepares you for college. Our teachers were constantly reminding us of that. But it does more than just that.

campus life - academy at the lakes

Academy gives you a family, a support system of peers that you see each and every day because of the small campus vibe.

Academy doesn’t prepare you in the way you think they will. You assume that everything they’re teaching you is in order for you to survive, the bare minimum, as other college students do, or to bear the “harshness.”

But Academy is teaching you to thrive. Academy is teaching you and giving you the myriad of tools you need in order to be above the rest of the student body—to have the informational skills, techniques, and tricks they give you in college before you even get there. And when you get there, you’ll recognize the things they say, and you might even roll your eyes at the familiarity… until you realize that your peers around you do not have the same background, “common” knowledge, and it’s the first time they hear of this information.

Seussical the Musical

That is the moment I came to terms with the fact that my pre-college education was special. Whether it’s how to build a resume, something as obvious as how to speak to adults, or those God-awful icebreakers and the pursuit of leadership and involvement…

All of it is just smooth turf; while for others it’s a foreign terrain they’ve never set foot on. For some, they may have dipped a toe in one or two of the elements, but the vast majority of the rest of the students never seemed as fully rounded as I felt I was upon arriving, and even throughout my college process.

I have lost count of the amount of people that can’t give a decent handshake to save their lives, but how can I blame them when they didn’t have Mr. Pitcairn to shake hands with every single morning to practice. It’s the little things, and I stress that. It’s the littlest things that Academy does in order to teach you the valuable things you will need in order to take on life, and do what they call, “adulting.”

I have learned a great deal from my years of college, and I’m not taking anything away from those experiences; however, I have Academy to thank for giving me the tools I needed in order to fully acquire the wings I’ve always had. College simply gave me a reason to use them, take off, and fly.

Girls' Chorus

So my advice to current students as I take on my junior year in college, appreciate each and every moment that Academy at the Lakes offers you. Whether it’s your peers, the coaches, or the faculty and staff, this environment is a special one. These people are here to make your lives successful ones.

I can honestly say that I would not be the human being that I am today, without first having been a student at this wonderful institution. I always appreciated Academy and loved it while I attended, but I didn’t recognize its deepest value in my growth until I had time to experience a new environment, and reflect on the past.

Regardless of the new families you will make in college—because you will have many near and dear ones—Academy at the Lakes will always be a special family to look back on, appreciate, and smile about.

Never take for granted a moment that you have, and embrace it.


At Academy at the Lakes it is our goal to help each student find the best “fit” for college, academically, socially, and financially. Finding the ideal match means finding a place that helps students fulfill their personal goals for higher education and offers the tools, opportunities and support for students to successfully take the next step in their lives and careers. Learn more or schedule a tour.