Dain Kavars, Executive Director

This fall marked the beginning of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities’ 34th year as Indiana’s only public high school for gifted and high-ability students. This past May, the 4,000th student walked across the stage and received their Indiana Academy diploma.

This year also marks my 18th year as an educator at the Academy and my 4th year as the Executive Director. My Academy journey began in 2006 as a full-time physics and astronomy teacher. Although I was never a student here, like you, the Academy has had a deep impact on my life as an educator. Academy students are an amazing group of individuals and I cannot imagine another school I’d rather work at.

Over the last three decades, the Academy has experienced several programmatic changes. These include:

  • The introduction of a non-residential program in 2012. Currently, about 25% of the student body is non-residential.
  • The introduction of an international student program in 2015 that has graduated over 50 students from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Turkey, India, Germany, Spain, and Brazil.
  • The introduction of a pilot sophomore program. This is the second year of the program that admits 15 sophomore students who spend three years at the Academy.

Programs may change, but the Academy remains committed to its original mission of providing a high-quality education to gifted and high-ability students in Indiana that provides them opportunities to explore their curiosities and discover new passions. The Academy is consistently ranked among the best public high schools in Indiana and the United States, with a group of faculty ranked among the best of the best in the nation via Niche.com.

An ongoing project that I am very excited about is the renovation of our classrooms. This project is the result of generous support from alumni and friends of the Academy. Five of our classrooms are recently renovated, including a full renovation of what many of you will remember as the distance learning studio. The Academy still delivers online courses to students in high schools across the state, but the mode of delivery moved away from the studio format several years ago. The renovated room now serves as both a traditional classroom and a maker space for student projects. Teachers and students are beginning to explore how this room can best be used to enhance the Academy experience for years to come.

I conclude this inaugural newsletter by thanking all alumni for the tremendous support you have shown and your commitment to the future success of the Indiana Academy!



Dain Kavars

Executive Director

Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities

Student Spotlight – Laylani Hammons

Where are you from?

My hometown is Marion, IN.

How did you first hear about the Academy?

From my academic advisor at my previous school, Oak Hill.

What made you decide to apply?

My decision to apply and accept my acceptance wasn’t a small one. Before applying to the Academy I was set to graduate a year early with honors and enough credits to be a sophomore in college, but not prepared at all due to still only being 17. So, when I heard about the Academy my family and myself jumped at the opportunity.

What is your greatest memory about your time at the Academy?

Truthfully when I look back at all my favorite memories I cannot sum them up to simply just one, I just sum it up to meeting my bestest friends Luna, Kylen, and Gaby!

What are some of your extracurricular activities?

I play soccer for Burris (with Academy girls), I’m the Academy’s LSU president (LatinX Student Union), I’m on the board of SEC (the Academy’s Student Equity Council), I’m Vice President of NHS (National Honors Society), Co-President of Key Club (a club built solely on the idea of contributing back to the community), I’m an ambassador for the Academy, a global scholar, and I’m part of a select group that participates in the Shafer Leadership Academy.

How has the Academy prepared you for life?

The Academy has prepared me in ways I cannot even describe. Before the Academy I had the academics, but not the people skills, the idea of what it’s like to live in a dorm and be away from family, or even the access to classes that would show me more of the occupation I want to go into.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduating from the Indiana Academy are to attend a four year collage (still undecided) majoring in chemistry based pre-med and minoring in psychological sciences.

Alumni Feature – Jill Peddycord Brown, Class of 1992

Where do you currently live?

I live in the Pacific Northwest.

What kind of work do you do?

My career has been in public service. I’ve served in three federal agencies, taught in the public school system, and early in my career worked at a nonprofit focused on conflict resolution.   I currently work as an executive with the federal government supporting the Federal Aviation Administration’s mission to keep the flying public safe.

Any personal information you’d like to share?

I am married with three stepchildren. I regularly go back to Indiana to visit my parents and my brother and his family. I’m also an avid hiker, backpacker and kiteboarder, and I taught myself to knit a few years ago.

How did you first hear about the Academy?

I read about the Indiana Academy in the Indianapolis Star when I was a sophomore in high school. I remember showing my mom the article and telling her that this was the school for me. This was just before the school first opened, so the application materials where not yet ready. My mom called the school every week until they sent me an application.

What is your greatest memory about your time at the Academy?

I have so many wonderful memories from my time at the Academy – from my roommate, to quirky, brilliant classmates to incredible teachers. I think the one memory that really captures my time there is when I “slipped up” and called the Academy “home”. It was the place where I truly felt like I belonged. It felt like home.

How did the Academy prepare you for your life now?

The superb academics at the Academy as well as living away from parents in a structured environment did a lot to prepare me for college and my career. Even more than that, though, I have taken the experience of belonging and acceptance with me throughout every stage in life. It has been a touchstone for me, grounding me and giving me courage.

How do you stay involved and support the Academy?

The primary way I have supported the Academy over the years is by making annual donations. Most recently, I joined with two other alumni to create an endowed alumni scholarship to help alleviate students’ room and board costs. We want to make sure these costs do not get in the way of any student who merits going to the Academy.

Stay in touch with the Academy throughout the year by following our social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheIndianaAcademy/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/indianaacademy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndianaAcademy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/school/indiana-academy-for-science-mathematics-&-humanities/