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The Case for Cohorts — Bringing Career Prep to the High School Arena

January 10, 2022
By Chris Roth

Meet three high school students: 

Kiara knows she wants to be a doctor. From a young age, she was fascinated by how the human body functions and heals, and had a strong desire to take care of those around her

Ethan loves art and has been doodling in his notebook since he was a kindergartner. He knows he wants to use his creativity in a meaningful career, but wants to explore multiple fields. 

Jack is just starting to evaluate his strengths and interests. He knows he enjoys connecting with others and wants to make a difference in people's lives, but he hasn’t thought much about how that might translate into a career.

Each of these teens is on a trajectory to a bright future! Whether your child knows exactly what career they want to pursue or is just beginning to explore their strengths and interests, they are on the right track. High school is the prime time for students to evaluate their unique strengths, talents, and passions, and to start turning these into tangible skills. 

Concordia Cohorts were designed to help them do just that, maximizing their potential in high school, college, and beyond. Based on their interests and goals, juniors and seniors have the option to join cohorts in the following areas: 

  • STEM 
  • Humanities 
  • Fine Arts

5 Key Benefits of Cohorts

1. Students have the opportunity to go deeper into content that is meaningful to them.

Every child needs foundational knowledge across all core subjects, but by the time they’re in high school, it’s easy to tell which subjects matter most to them. This is why high school is the optimal time to provide students with choice and voice in their education. Students who join a cohort focused on their favorite subject matter develop deeper knowledge and tangible skills for a likely career path, all while maintaining a zest for learning.

2. Students develop friendships with like-minded peers.

There’s something special about relationships that are founded on shared interests, and cohorts provide students with opportunities to make new friends. Students who are passionate about the same things can enjoy rich conversation, spend time together working on shared projects, and keep each other motivated while moving toward specific goals.

3. Students are mentored by adults who can guide them as they pursue future opportunities. 

High school students all have one thing in common — they want to feel known, heard, and valued. When students join a cohort, it allows their teachers to better understand their unique passions and creates opportunities for authentic mentorship. As students spend more time with the same teachers who are passionate about the same things, they feel a sense of belonging and purpose. Through monthly Cohort Conversations, they also get to network with industry experts who can help them identify future opportunities and inspire them about what’s possible. These lunchtime gatherings have featured many expert guests, including from 3M, Concordia University, the Guthrie Theatre, and Preemptive Love, a global humanitarian organization.

4. Students get real-life training in project management.  

In each cohort, the Senior Capstone Project is the result of hours of planning, time and project management, collaboration, and creativity. Throughout their senior year, students shape their Senior Capstone project, which looks different for each cohort: 

Arts - presented as a gallery exhibit or a public performance.
STEM - research project and paper designed for and entered into competition through the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair (TCRSF) organization. 
Humanities - student research is presented in a public exhibition.

5. Students become more competitive for college, internship, and job opportunities.

A focused high school education allows students to get a jumpstart on their resumes by building relevant experience early. Even if a student completely changes their mind about their career path, there is still value in receiving hands-on experience and training prior to graduation. Being a part of a cohort provides the type of meaningful learning and universal skill-building that colleges and future employers are looking for. 

Learn more about how Concordia Cohorts can open doors for your teen, and plan on attending our Winter Open House on February 10, 2022! If you have any questions, contact us at or (651) 796-2679.

The Abdi Family: Our CA Story

December 10, 2020
By Concordia Academy

Sara Abdi's story about her family's journey to CA starts with a confession and goes on to explain how her son, Khalil, has been able to shine at CA in so many ways. Below, read the Abdi family's story in Sara's own words.

Sara Abdi starts off her family's CA story with a confession. She says that, after hearing about Concordia Academy from friends, "We put off the tour of CA for no good reason for two weeks. Now, I cannot imagine why!" She ultimately discovered much that made her feel that CA would be a great fit for her son Khalil (CA '23), including "the college prep focus, the trust of the CA youth from leadership, and the teachers and staff. It was a great, structured environment that clearly had God as the foundation."

Khalil, who had developed a strong interest in STEM during middle school, has been challenged academically, and he's thrived. Sara explains, "We specifically sought out this caliber of learning for him, but we were a bit surprised by the independence given to thrive and learn. Interesting fact: when we stepped back, our son took the challenge!"

Of course, life at CA is about much more than just academics, and the Christian community at CA has been a blessing to Khalil and his family. "Chapel is not just 'chapel.' There is praise and worship in many musical formats, and the speaker's topics are real!" She adds that Concordia provides students with "a safe space to explore who they are in God and how they will follow Him. CA is very grounded, without feeling overwhelming for our son."

Khalil is now a sophomore, and Sara marvels at his growth. "He entered as a young boy, and we can see the young man growing before us day by day. He is inspired. He is encouraged. He has become steadfast in his faith and identity. CA has provided a foundation to grow and shine. His faith journey is stronger, his academic stamina is mightier, and his social growth and independence are SO awesome to see!"

Khalil is truly shining at CA, much to Sara's delight. "Everyone at CA knows our son, his interests, and our family," Sara says. "It is the modern village we wanted for our son."

#OurCAStory lets families describe, in their own words, how they discovered Concordia Academy and the way the school has impacted their lives. If you’re just discovering Concordia Academy, click here to learn about our plan to reopen this fall, onsite, five days a week. Or, you can connect with our admissions office to schedule a tour or get more information. We’d love to help you create your own CA story! 

The Christianson Family: Our CA Story

August 17, 2020
By Concordia Academy

Concordia Academy has not only made an impact on Thad Christianson (CA '23), but it's also impacted his family. Below, his mother Kirsten explains how she has learned from our teachers, how the CA community has allowed Thad to grow in many ways, and how our principal, Pastor Tim Berner, sets a tone of wisdom, love, and fun.

How did you find out about CA?
We found out about CA through the Kingsbury Family, close friends of ours. Their oldest son, Noah, started at CA, and we watched him grow and mature under the discipleship of his teachers. The fruit of that discipleship is a close family community that shows in every discipline: academics, arts, STEM, sports, etc. 

What has been the biggest blessing about CA?
I’ve been discipled by a couple of CA teachers, too! Thad is our only child, and so I can become fearful about things that really aren’t things. In the first round of parent-teacher conferences, several teachers helped me better implement our motto of “Stay near and stand back” in ways that serve Thad better. They prayed with me and then checked in afterward. It helped orient me, reminding me that Christ has Thad way more than I ever could. 

How has your child been impacted by CA?
Thad loves CA. He loves everything about it. He has matured in his faith, and he has continued to grow in academics. He has availed himself of sports, friendships, and community life. He has become more of whom I believe God has made him to be. It’s been a joy to watch. I think Thad has been surprised by how much he has embraced CA and the impact that it already has had on him. We are grateful. 

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about CA?
I think most people know this, but I would say that the teachers live what they believe, and they share that with the students. The students are given a gift; they are cared for by the teachers. Also, Pastor Berner leads by example. He is not perfect, but he is faithful, wise, and fun. Thad has benefited from his leadership of the student body. When the top guy loves well, everyone around him will, too. 

#OurCAStory lets families describe, in their own words, how they discovered Concordia Academy and the way the school has impacted their lives. If you’re just discovering Concordia Academy, click here to learn about our plan to reopen this fall, onsite, five days a week. Or, you can connect with our admissions office to schedule a tour or get more information. We’d love to help you create your own CA story! 

The Reinhard Family: Our CA Story

July 19, 2020
By Concordia Academy

Because she is an alumna and her parents are longtime supporters, Concordia Academy was already on Jennifer Reinhard's radar when she and her husband Scott began looking for a high school for their oldest son, Benjamin. But those connections didn't necessarily make CA a shoo-in. As she explains below, discovering how the school she already loved had grown and developed over the years made it clear that Concordia Academy was the right place for her children.

When did you first explore CA as an option for your family?  
When it was time for us to choose a high school for our oldest son, we spent time visiting a number of private and charter high schools in person and also had Benjamin shadow at each school. Concordia Academy was one of our choices, not only because of my past affiliation but also because of its current reputation. We believed CA was a good fit for him, but we also wanted to make sure he felt a connection, too.

What led your family to Concordia Academy?  
Concordia brings together a lot of the experiences that you wish for your children as they learn, form friendships, and develop their faith. The combination of a small, caring atmosphere along with rigorous academics and competitive athletic programs were important. We also knew CA was a community, led and supported by people of strong faith.

What made you decide to send your children to CA?
We have always said that we would choose a school based on what we thought was best for each child. Our daughter Katherine had the opportunity to play on the CA high school softball team as an 8th grader and was incredibly blessed by the opportunity in ways far beyond what we could have anticipated. She was so excited to attend CA this year, and we have seen her blossom in her faith and friendships. Our 7th grader is already excited about coming to CA; he decided to play BEAMS (middle school) basketball last winter as a way to meet and connect with other prospective students. He had a wonderful experience with that group of boys, and the alumni coaches were excellent ambassadors for the school and role models for the kids.

What has been the biggest blessing about CA?  From the beginning, it was obvious this school is a community of Christian staff and teachers who care about my children not only as students with a responsibility to learn but also as individuals who have unique and special talents. When Benjamin fractured his skull in 10th grade, he received personal and heartfelt notes from some teachers, a reminder about how much they cared for him during a particularly difficult time. There were so many staff members and teachers who were paying special attention to him in his time of need.

What has been a surprise about CA? While it has always been a Christian school, there is a renewed fire for Christ throughout the CA staff and student body that is inspiring. The CA community puts Christ at the center of their lives, and many are living boldly in and out of school. The chapels have definitely changed since I was a student!

How have your children been impacted by CA?  Concordia Academy has a unique ability to combine learning and faith, where students can challenge, ask questions, and grow as individuals as well as a community of believers. We have seen each of our children develop a strong sense of who they are and mature in their faith. That reinforced confidence is less about what they know and more about their relationship with Jesus. 

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about CA?  It is so easy to have trust and confidence in the staff and administration, for so many reasons. They pray about decisions before acting. They demonstrate a genuine love for Christ, for one another and for their students. They have a strong and vibrant culture that balances learning, fun, and a deeper relationship with God. CA has built on its reputation for excellence by continually improving, staying relevant, and making the school a place where students thrive.

#OurCAStory lets families describe, in their own words, how they discovered Concordia Academy and the way the school has impacted their lives. If you’re just discovering Concordia Academy, click here to watch a virtual tour, or connect with our admissions office to schedule an in-person tour or get more information. We’d love to help you create your own CA story! 

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