Joseph Helm

Joseph is currently living in Warrensburg and attending UCM where he will be a senior in January. His degree is in Technology with an emphasis in management and he hopes to eventually obtain a job in safety management. Joseph is renting an apartment off campus, at the Catholic Campus Center, which enables him to grow in his leadership skills, promoting, assisting the director, and heading up various activities for kids on campus. He has used his advocation skills learned at Horizon Academy greatly in college! He is working closely with the access office to receive accommodations and direction to help him succeed in school. He plans to continue work at Hyvee on breaks and takes between 15-16 hours of classes each semester. He hopes to graduate in December of 2014!


Dylan Boster

Dylan transitioned to Bishop Miege High School as a freshman in August of 2013. Dylan (or “Waffles” as he is known by most of the student body) is really enjoying his year at Miege. He is currently maintaining a B+ GPA and is participating on the Debate and Football teams. He participated in his first debate tournament in September of 2013. He  plays Defensive Tackle and Offensive GUard on the Freshman A team, which is 5-0 so far this season. The strategies and confidence that Horizon taught him have enabled him to make a smooth transition into high school.


Abby Quinlan

Abby graduated from Horizon Academy in 2013 as our Student of the Year. Since graduating, Abby has been taking a few classes at Johnson County Community College and is truly enjoying them. She is also working at Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Company. Abby continues to have a love for animals — especially her kittens and her horse. She loves going horseback riding as well as driving around town. Even though Abby was only at Horizon Academy for her senior year, that one year helped her to develop her reading skills and prepared her for her classes at JCCC. Abby loves coming to visit Horizon Academy because of the incredible community of friends she found here!


Lizzy Ungashick

Lizzy graduated from Horizon Academy in 2013. Since graduation, she has been working many hours at Dog Pawz which is a Doggy Day Care in Kansas City. Her passion for dogs truly started when she was at Horizon Academy and involved with the PAWS group.  Lizzy’s time at Horizon Academy helped her to build up her confidence socially and academically and has helped her transition into this new phase of life!


Matt Gauer

I first arrived at Horizon Academy in 2000 after a difficult experience with public school. Upon attending Horizon, going to school was no longer a painful experience for me. I felt like I was not only a student, but also part of a real dedicated learning community. The teachers and staff at Horizon treated me with respect and encouragement, and along the way I learned how to overcome my weaknesses with Asperger Syndrome and discover my strengths. Horizon Academy changed my life and I am proud to have been the first high school graduate.
After Horizon, I attended Penn Valley Community College where I received an Associates in Applied Science Degree in Graphic Design. During that time, I was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society based on my high grade point average. After graduating from college, I have had numerous graphic design jobs where I worked as an employee and a freelancer. Today, I also work as a self-employed cake builder and sugar artist. My cakes have become popular with family and friends, and I continue to flourish in my craft as a result. To this day, I am grateful for Horizon Academy and their continuous dedication to helping and encouraging students with learning disabilities who want to get ahead in life.

Ben Edwards

After I left Horizon Academy, I went to Johnson County Community College for three years, and I got a job as a retailer at a grocery story. After going to JCCC, I was accepted into the University of Central Missouri’s THRIVE program which is a two-year residential program for students with intellectual/developmental disabilities to teach them independence. After finishing THRIVE, I became a full-time student at UCM and a junior majoring in Cultural Studies.
The most important things I learned from Horizon were good writing skills, test-taking strategies, and reading non-verbal social cues and predicting other people’s reactions to what I say and do, which some people with autism have trouble with. This helps me learn from others and remain in control of fulfilling my obligations. Horizon’s emphasis on advocating for my needs and respecting my condition and myself is also among the most important things I have learned. Today what I miss the most about Horizon is the close relationships and feeling of belonging that I had with the teachers, staff, and students. Thankfully I still have the chance to stay in touch with them and apply what I learned from that sense of community in my own environment.

Jack McGrew

After attending a public elementary school, Jack became a student at Horizon Academy in 6th grade. Jack attended Horizon Academy for three years before transitioning to Bishop Miege during his freshman year of high school. While at Bishop Miege, he was a manager for the football team. The highlight of Jack’s time at Bishop Miege as the football manager, was being on the field for the state championship game in 2012.

With the study skills and self-confidence that Horizon Academy instilled in Jack, he graduated from Bishop Miege with a 3.90 GPA. Jack is also an Eagle Scout and his Eagle Scout project was improving some of the landscaping at Horizon Academy.

Jack is currently enrolled part-time at Johnson County Community College, where he is on the Dean’s Honor Roll for part-time students. Jack plans to attend a four-year college in the Fall of 2015. 

Gina Bruhn

Currently I attend Penn Valley community college, and take online classes, working towards an Associate in Art and Teaching. I’m on the Dean’s Honor Roll meaning I have a 3.5 GPA. During the week, I am a part time Teacher Assistant at Horizon Academy with the upper team, and I am also a Teacher Assistant in the after school program called S.T.A.R.T. club where I help students train service dogs for people in wheelchairs. On Saturdays I work at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in the Ford Learning Center as a teacher assistant for the on-site workshops where they offer art-centered workshops for children and adults. I also am a summer camp counselor for the Nelson-Atkins weeklong summer camps.
My best memories of Horizon Academy are the teachers. They taught me in a different way, at my own individual pace so that I could understand the academic materials and work independently. Horizon Academy was the first school that I actually liked going to and where I found my love for lifelong learning. Horizon helped me believe in my abilities. Now that I’m a Teacher Assistant, I feel like I am part of the Horizon Academy team, and learn something new every day.


Dalton Phillips

Since his transition from Horizon Academy, Dalton graduated from the University of Arkansas and began working for Go Exchange. The company sells custom wholesale apparel and is dedicated to orphan prevention. Dalton covers the Midwest and Southeastern territories and is now one of the company’s top sales representatives.

When he’s not busy working, he leads a Sunday school class at his church, helps with Global Orphan Project events, and cheers on the KC Royals. He enjoyed his time at Horizon Academy, with one moment standing out in particular. “My favorite memory of Horizon was an assembly we had where a basketball player was doing fancy dunks. On his final dunk he shattered the backboard.”


Are you a Horizon Academy alum? We would love to know what is new with you!

Send us your update and e-mail a recent photo to Amanda Metzler to be featured on our “Where Are They Now” page!