Alumni Testimonials

Odyssey Alumni in their own words



Emily Diaz-Loar, Class of 2013

“Odyssey School provided me with a safe haven to learn, grow, and productively handle the scary high school years between 15 and 18. Today, I am a junior at UNC-Asheville studying mathematics and economics with a 4.0 GPA. I have my eyes set on graduate school at MIT to study pure mathematics. My goal is to be a professor of math at a research university where I can foster the same enthusiasm in students that my teachers (at Odyssey School and beyond) fostered in me. In addition, I work as a Research Assistant in the Economics Department at UNC-Asheville, where the research I am doing will be published in a nationally accredited research journal. I will also be presenting at the national undergraduate research symposium, NCUR, in the spring of 2016.

“In addition to my academic achievements, last summer I was lucky enough to backpack through Europe with a fellow Odyssey School alumnus. If it wasn’t for Odyssey School, I would not have such a deep appreciation and love for not only academics, but also travel, physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth. At Odyssey School, I made life-long friends, life-long goals, and life-long values that define who I am today.”

Rachel Appleton – Class of 2014

“When I tell people that I miss high school they think I’m weird, but I honestly do. Odyssey was not just school to me for 4 years, it was home. I knew that I wanted to submerge myself in art, music, and social justice work from a young age. Odyssey not only gave me experience in all of my passions, they also gave me the confidence to pursue them after I graduated. I am now teaching pottery, building my own home studio and business for therapeutic pottery, and have made a wonderful group of friends along the way. Odyssey was so much more than an education to me, it was an entire community of artists, dreamers and teachers that embraced every child with so much love and passion in order to create a better world by supporting each other.”

Cassidy Chester – Class of 2014

“I recently graduated from UNCA here in Asheville with a Bachelor’s of English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I spent my time at UNCA honing my writing, an interest that was sparked early in my childhood but was fueled by my time at Odyssey. I used to write stories and create characters, and eventually went on to writing scripts for short films that I was able to film and present at Odyssey as a part of our Independent project program. “IRPs” gave me the opportunity to explore topics that excited me, and I definitely think they made me realize how much I enjoyed writing!

“Though things are a little different than I had been expecting in the year 2020, I am striving to make things work! I am working at my family’s pottery business which has been my other passion throughout my time at Odyssey and beyond. We’re navigating the changing times as best we can, and I’m using my writing skills a lot more these days for marketing and social media posts which has been a fun skill to learn. I plan to eventually hunker down and try my hand at writing a novel, but for now I am just gaining time and experience while experimenting with other ways of telling my stories (I am planning a webcomic with a friend which has been a lot of fun!)”

About my time at Odyssey:

“I still look back on my days at Odyssey fondly. It was a big change from the larger schools I had attended in Atlanta (where I was born), but it was a very welcome change. When we found Odyssey as an option for my brother, I knew I wanted to attend with him. I always loved the close-knit feeling of the small classes, and felt more comfortable at Odyssey than anywhere else. I attended from 7th-12th grade, but my High School years were especially formative for me as I got a chance to grow in a space where I felt loved and important, rather than just another face in the crowd. 

“I felt so grateful to have teachers that were personable and acted as both friends and mentors. I made so many friends at Odyssey that I still stay in contact with, as well as my best friend who I met in my senior year and still maintain a friendship with! I think Odyssey provides a unique experience by creating a community within each classroom while also bridging the gap between grades and creating a larger community as well. To this day, because of the way the school and teachers created such a warm and welcoming environment for me, Odyssey feels like home.”

Millie Weeks, Class of 2014

Holistic School Alumna Millie WeeksFinding a school that provides teenagers with not only a strong and solid learning environment, but an environment that encourages personal development and growth in many areas, is hard to come across. Odyssey is the embodiment of this space. Through the combination of a unique and innovative curriculum, to the fantastic teachers and student body, Odyssey is the perfect place to help facilitate interpersonal as well as intrapersonal growth.

One of the greatest skills I developed as an Odyssey student was the art of communication. Through a small class setting, and close relationships with adult teachers, I had the chance to interact with a broad spectrum o
f personalities, backgrounds, and minds. I would not have previously been exposed to this depth at a larger school, where students are generally placed where they “fit in.” I looked forward everyday to having discussions with my classmates and teachers about theory, world problems, whatever subject we were tackling. I was also taught communication on a very real, intense personal level. How to deal with social issues, personal problems, relating to others and being able to offer help when needed, has carried me into my college life at a level I could have never anticipated. It prepared me for the real world in a way that many young adults my age may not be able to fully grasp yet.
Through my amazing mentors at Odyssey and the freedom to explore my interests, I was able to solidify my passions beyond high school. During my senior year at Odyssey, I created a collection of 8 outfits for a spring fashion show. Now, I am pursuing a Fine Arts degree at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I am beyond grateful for everything Odyssey has given me and continues to provide for me, even after my graduation. I know I built relationships there that will last a lifetime, and a support system that remains unparalleled.

Josh Lino – Class of 2016

“It has been over 4 years now since I graduated from Odyssey in 2016. I recently got my BSBA in Computer Information Systems from Western Carolina University. Entering the job market hasn’t been easy with the growing pandemic, but I still managed to land on my feet and get a salaried job at Brumit Restaurant Group. I do IT support work for over 60 restaurants in North Carolina. Recently, I was also able to purchase my own car. I’m very happy about where I am in my life right now, and I have to thank Odyssey for preparing me to get to this point.

“I spent the better part of my maturing years at Odyssey. I arrived at the end of my 5th grade year and continued all the way through graduation. Friends of mine who didn’t really understand what Odyssey is about used to tell me that being at a school like Odyssey would make applying to college difficult, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. I got accepted to every college I applied to, and once I started college classes, I thrived. I got constant praise from professors about papers I would write, which I personally didn’t think were very good. But that’s what Odyssey does for you. It elevates the standards you have for yourself in such a way that you can see your own potential. Beyond academics, Odyssey made me the man I am today. The communications skills I have gained from my time at Odyssey have really helped me advance my personal relationships on a level I didn’t know possible. Conflict resolution and general understanding are two concepts that come to mind when I think of what Odyssey has taught me.

“It’s really simple when you break it down. There is no other school that will give you the same level of time, care, and consideration for you as an individual. Odyssey is the best choice if you have the drive and want to excel in all aspects of your life.”

Willow Stevenson – Class of 2016

“After graduating from Odyssey, I was accepted in the Bonner Scholars program, which is a service learning scholarship program at Guilford College. And last year, I studied abroad in Peru! I am now in my last year of college pursuing an Art and Environmental Studies double major and preparing for an exhibition of my art work in my private studio this spring. 

“Odyssey inspired me to pursue learning on my own terms and helped facilitate and nurture my art practice, for which I am very grateful. The way that my teachers genuinely connected with me and the other students made Odyssey feel very special to me.”

Jonah Nordeen – Class of 2017

“Currently, I am preparing to enter into my final semester of my undergraduate program at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. Throughout my college career, I have been involved in both pharmaceutical research concerned with the synthesis of Alzheimer’s medication as well as public health research focused on the widespread prevalence of gun violence in the United States. I have also had the privilege of working as a tutor, teaching assistant, and resident advisor for the past two years. In the coming Spring, I will be graduating as a member of the honors college with a degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Psychology. I am also in the process of applying to medical school and hope to begin a career studying neurology in the next few years.

“The time that I spent at Odyssey has easily been the single most important factor to my success in college and life moving forward. Being a student at Odyssey prepared me in a way that I couldn’t fully appreciate until I left and discovered the distinct advantages that I had compared to many of my peers. As a student at Odyssey, I learned how to learn and how to approach new, unfamiliar, and even uncomfortable situations with curiosity and excitement. I learned how to take initiative in my own studies and find joy and motivation in both the successes and struggles of the process. I learned how to communicate and operate with empathy for others and how to connect on a deeper, more authentic level with my peers and superiors. My skills as a student were also honed and I have often found myself feeling quite prepared and excited for otherwise daunting tasks, having already taken on similar projects in high school such as large class debates and IRPs (Independent Research Projects). I have had the incredible privilege of taking part in so many unique and invaluable experiences from volunteering at food banks and serving my community to performing river clean-ups and caving in the mountains of Virginia. The incredible individuals I have met in my time there are some of the most important people in my life and I often still go first to them for their advice and support. Because of Odyssey, I have learned how to be a leader, a student, a role model, an adventurer, and a companionate and caring human being. The lesson I’ve learned and the relationships I have built in my time there have led and encouraged me to make strong connections and take part in incredible experiences that I feel sure I otherwise would have missed out on. I am so deeply grateful for everything that Odyssey has done for me and it makes me truly happy to know that others get to have that experience as well.”

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Odyssey School is an independent, non-profit school with a focus on whole child, emotionally intelligent, personalized curriculum for students in PreK-12. Our mission is to prepare students, families, and educators to lead lives of intention and purpose with an authentic sense of self.

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