57 students walked the line for Owensboro Innovation Academy’s 2023 graduating class, of which 86% graduated with some college credit. Principal Beth Benjamin described this class as very socially aware as they have spearheaded a new collaboration with the Innovation Middle School on the importance of mental health awareness in schools.
Kylar Wilhite student council president and now alum said he could relate to the awareness that OIA has provided for him during his time at the school. It starts with not wanting to go to OIA when he was a freshman.
After attending the open house, he learned he was wrong about his initial thoughts on the school.
“I don’t do well with just sitting and memorizing stuff, I do good with building. Like my freshman year, we had a physics class and I didn’t understand any of it until we started using the physics [we were learning] to build stuff like we built a working pinball machine,” Wilhite said.
By sophomore year, Wilhite said he was out of the pathways, taking full college classes and getting a full view of education. While he plans to go to Owensboro Community and Technical College before attending Murray State University to obtain a degree in zoology, he said he also spent lots of time in the computer science pathway with graphic design classes.
The full view of education transcended his personal development as well. Before arriving at OIA, he said the diversity of classes opened him up to collaborating and building bonds with other students.
Originally, he considered himself a person of few friends and an introvert, however, by the end of high school, he saw himself in leadership roles like student council president.
“It’s totally not because nobody else ran against me, but in OIA, collaboration is a huge part,” he said.
He saw collaboration from the teamwork projects to the facilitators’ work in everyday events and interactions. Wilhite noted that even when it came to his transition, he saw teachers be apprehensive but still put in the effort to address him as he wished.
“The teachers were all supportive and it just helps in that way that I can discover who I am without fearing of something happening to me or not being able to be myself,” Wilhite said.
The teachers were his favorite part along the way, specifically Mrs. Webb he said. Though all of them were respectful, he said he would look back on his time and remember how caring Webb was to him and all the students.