Welcome to WRA Voices!
What is it like to attend WRA? What makes it different than other schools? No one knows better than the students themselves. In WRA Voices, Ajay '16, Cristen '16, Kyle '16, Elizabeth '17, Sue '18 and Niraj '16, share their perspectives on anything and everything WRA. Read on!
One unique aspect of life at WRA is the three sport/activity requirement. Whether you are a freshman playing three sports or an upperclassman participating in three seasons of biology research, it can sometimes be a struggle to fulfill the three sport/activity requirement as there are not always options available for each season that spark one’s interests.
This fall, I found myself in one of these predicaments — I did not know what activity to do! I considered playing soccer, but I figured I would step outside my comfort zone and play golf. All my life, I have casually played golf during the summer, but I never devoted myself to the craft and, frankly, never found much success. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed getting out on the greens and trying my best.
Yet, the thought of playing golf at WRA never crossed my mind until about two weeks before the start of the school year, and I was anxious about how I would fit on the team. Yet, to my surprise, playing golf at WRA has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my tenure in high school. Over the course of the season, I’ve garnered a deep passion for the game and find myself constantly thinking about all aspects of golf — on and off the greens. More importantly, I was able to go out every day and hit the sticks with a great group of guys. I was able to build relationships with new friends that I would not have if I didn’t play.
This proves to show how Western Reserve Academy is such a great place to push your boundaries. The great thing about Reserve is that there are so many opportunities — whether they be in the field of academia or athletics — that we sometimes take them for granted and overlook them and the potential benefits that they can offer. After this experience, I urge students at WRA to embrace all opportunities set before them and not discard them as obligations until you have actually tried them out — you won’t regret it!
Kyle Buseck ’16
A letter to myself, four years ago
|Friends gather for a group photo.|
Dear freshman Ajay,
Welcome to life at WRA. As a boarder for four years, I can attest that the decision of choosing whether or not to be a boarding student carries much importance. At the ripe, tender age of 14 — sometimes even 13 years old — kids are thrust into a life of their own. When you’re living in the dorms, there are no parents to instruct and watch over you, no personal bedrooms, and you must adjust to a completely different lifestyle.
I remember stepping onto Western Reserve Academy’s campus as a wide-eyed freshman, anxious for what was to come. I came to this school as alone as a lone soldier, not knowing anyone and filled with fear. As an involved student at my middle school, I was nervous to leave and start at the bottom of the totem pole as a freshman. However, over time, I perfectly assimilated with the boarding lifestyle, recognizing its great aspects, and so will you.
Boarders have the great luxury of independence, the ability to develop close bonds with friends and teachers, and the wonderful opportunity to receive delicious dorm feeds. Honestly, I think it was great that I arrived at WRA with no pre-existing friendships as it allowed me to branch out. Since I did not know anyone, I did not have to hold on to my previous self, and it felt as if I had a clean slate. Deciding to become a boarder was definitely a risk, but, now, this risk has had the biggest payoffs.
WRA boarding will help you mature. You will have to learn how to take care of yourself, wake up on your own and manage your responsibilities. This process can prove difficult and stressful but experiencing it in a high school setting with a tight-knit community makes the transition much easier. Boarding has taught me how to manage rumors and stress. Since we are among a relatively small community on campus, it is easy to succumb to outside influences, but it is important to maintain your character and not let others define you. Above all, the relationships you develop with your roommates are priceless. I have roomed with Jae Hoon Lee ’16 and Niraj Naik ’16 in my time at WRA, and our shared experiences as roommates have created memories that will last forever. Boarding at WRA offers a small community and haven to experience everything in a safe place.
As a current senior, I realize that I will have to start this whole process again once I get to college. Even though this appears daunting, I am confident that I can utilize the skills I gained at WRA. I have to remind myself that the vulnerability you’re experiencing right now was a good thing. It is always worrisome to endeavor down a new path, but remember that sometimes it is important to take risks. They will eventually pay off.
Ajay Dakappagari '16
WRA Voices Staff Writer
Over the past two months I’ve been preparing for the spring play, Time of Your Life. Written by William Saroyan, the play follows multiple stories that all take place in the same bar in San Francisco. I’ve spent many nights in the auditorium rehearsing and memorizing lines and it all came to fruition this past weekend. With the help of our director, Mrs. Ong, and our set designer, Mr. Peveich, we had the amazing opportunity to perform in front of our peers. My friends and I are really lucky because we get to let loose for a couple hours every night on stage. It’s a great way to hang out with your friends.
With such a time commitment, it can get quite hectic with school and homework, but teachers are very understanding and will often be flexible with deadlines. For example, my chemistry teacher was more than willing to help me prepare for my upcoming chemistry test, although I was taking it later than most other students.
On opening night, I couldn’t wait for my friends and teachers to see the performance. We had worked so much every night for the play to be amazing. Once I got out on stage, I felt electrified. The theater was packed with all of my friends, who had come out to support us. Once we made our final bow, it made all of the work that we had done worth it. There was such a sense of satisfaction in the air backstage. I can’t wait to try out for a play next year. It’s one of the most valuable experiences at WRA.
|Anna & her grandma visiting on Grandparents Day!|
I clearly remember my first “last” at Reserve. Near the end of my junior year I had to attend student body president elections, something the seniors do not attend since they will not be there for the following year. Other things trickled along like my last sports physical, my last time returning to Reserve in the fall, and my last preseason, but frankly I was more excited than sad and it certainly didn’t feel real. Now it feels real.
Nearly everything I do feels like a last as I finish up my senior year. This weekend will be the last WRA play I ever see, in two more weekends it will be the last WRA dance show I am ever a part of, and in a few short weeks it will be my last prom. And even the things that still persist are very few. Only a few more times to sing the Alma Mater, to attend Morning Meeting, to wear my kilt, to wake up in Cartwright with my roommate Sophie. Everything is quickly coming to an end and in a way it is very sad and hard to fully take in. However, I’m incredibly grateful for this moment because it allows me to see all the things that are unique to Reserve, all the things I will have to sadly say goodbye to in a few short weeks.
As easy as it is to complain about school, the good truly outweighs the bad. Sometimes it’s oh so hard to see the benefits of this school when you’re so tired and feel so overwhelmed, but the benefits are all around us. The benefits are the smile of a friend as you get ready to sleep, the support of a sit-down table, the excitement of ringing the victory bell and all of these things quickly dissolve after graduation. Now, I’m not going to lie, I am excited to graduate and I am excited to move on to college, but now I am more able to see how incredibly thankful I am for this opportunity. I know my high school experience wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else, but even more importantly, I know I wouldn’t be the same person right now. So seniors, take in every “last” and savor the moment as you reflect on all the wonderful memories associated with that action. As for everyone else, try not to get caught up in the monotony of school, take every annoying required event and try to see it as an opportunity and a tradition with limited times remaining. It’s hard to say goodbye to what has become normal, but very soon we must. So try your hardest to really take in every “last” and appreciate all the things that we usually take for granted.
This past weekend, the Morgan Leaders ventured far past Reserve’s campus and found ourselves smack-dab in the heart of Ohio, Columbus. The eight of us had the wonderful chance to meet with former Reserve students and hear all about their careers. With completely different jobs, each alumni had an exciting perspective on life after college.
Jennifer Peterson, Class of ‘84, explained how going to college campuses and talking to students helped her develop the clothing line PINK, Victoria’s Secret’s little sister. William ‘Bill’ Emery, Class of ‘76, elaborated on his donut truck raids while at Reserve and that even at his age he still has no idea what he wants to do but more of what he does not want to do. Gavrilo Gnatovich, Class of ‘75, introduced us to the world of cartoons and that even adults can create an imaginary world.
Whether it be Class of ‘84 or ‘75, cartoonist or private equity investor they all detailed the importance of their Reserve experience. As seniors, this trip showed us the big bad world of business really isn’t too scary. The valuable and very different tips and tactics that each alumni introduced will surely help in any field we pursue.
What I will personally take away from this weekend getaway is the fact that Reserve is still a huge part of these people’s lives. Far past their graduation days, they still hold their WRA stories and Senior Putz close at heart as well as the friends they made within the brick casing of WRA. Even after continuing their academic career on to impressive colleges, they all attributed part of their success to Reserve. Whether it be the roommate they had, the teachers they encountered, or the passions they discovered; Reserve left a lasting impression.
With my own graduation day right around the corner, it came as a relief knowing that these last few weeks are not leading to a sad and abrupt ending, but toward a new beginning as a Reserve alumni.
Each year the WRA boys lacrosse team takes a week or so out of spring break to make time for a lacrosse trip. In years past the lacrosse team has gone to Florida for a week of training and scrimmages. This year, however, things were a little different. Instead of going to the sunny beaches of Florida, the lacrosse team voyaged down to Philadelphia and Baltimore for two regulation games as well as practices and, of course, some fun team-building activities.
Before traveling south, we convened in Hudson for two days of intense training. After six practices in 48 hours, on the third day we loaded up the bus at 6 a.m. Our trip started with a drive to Philly to play the Hill School. After a hard fought battle, we unfortunately could not pull out a ‘W’ against a talented Hill School as we lost 5-1. Nonetheless, with our first game behind us we felt confident as we began preparing for our next game against St. Andrew’s Episcopal School out of Rockville, MD. Before we played St. Andrew’s we made an afternoon pit stop to visit the University of Maryland. We met with WRA alumnus Kyle Bernlohr, a 2011 graduate. He is the starting goalie at Maryland and is recognized as one of the best players in the country this year. After we watched a UMD practice, Kyle was able to give us a tour of the lacrosse facilities. He talked to us about how important his experiences at WRA were and gave us some overall life advice. The next day we had two practices to prep for our big game against St. Andrews. After an all around great game by the boys, we were able to get the win against St. Andrews 8-2. After our win, we drove to Johns Hopkins University to watch the Blue Jays take down Rutgers University. Being able to watch a game at Hopkins’ Homewood Field, one of the most historic lacrosse venues in the country, was incredible and one of the many highlights of the trip. That night, the last night of the trip we went to Joe’s Crab Shack and pounded over 50 lbs. of seafood as a team, a wonderful end to a memorable trip.
The annual WRA lacrosse trip is a great example of the many athletic opportunities available at WRA. There are not many other schools that offer an athletic opportunity like this. Although we came out of the trip with a 1-1 record, the journey provided us not only the chance to advance our skills as a lacrosse team in preparation for our MSLCA league games, but, also, this year’s lacrosse trip succeeded in one of the primary goals of these annual events — helping to build team chemistry and lasting memories for all of this year’s WRA boys lacrosse players.
Although schedules depend on what classes you take and what activities you are involved in, I hope to help prospective students understand how a regular school day works:
First period and second period (8:20-10:05): Two 50 minute classes. Although I am somewhat predisposed to enjoy Monday morning because of my sleep in (first period off), I enjoy the Monday schedule because you have a break between every two classes. Second period is A.P. physics, enough said.
Morning Meeting (10:10-10:40): An enjoyable blend of This I Believe speeches, the alma mater, a few sports announcements and general “housekeeping” announcements. However, Morning Meeting is a nice way to break up the morning and bring the community together over a funny video announcing prom or an announcement by the theatric Mr. Ong recounting the struggles of few students brave enough to take on A.P. U.S. history or A.P. econ.
Third and fourth period (10:45-12:30): Two 50 minute classes, creative writing followed by English. As a senior, all of the English classes are scheduled for the same period because you have the opportunity to switch teachers during the second semester because they are semester-based classes. Both classes stretch my mind creatively, so it is a nice break after physics.
Lunch (12:30-1): Although Mondays have shorter lunches than the hour-long lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is a great opportunity to see friends who aren’t in your classes, and the dining hall has great options for all students.
Fifth and Sixth Period (1:15-3:00): The last two classes of the day. I have A.P. calculus followed by dance class. There is nothing I love more than ending the day with dance class! As a dancer, I love that I can take art classes during the day (they are actually required for any incoming freshman).
Sports practice! (4 -6): Reserve has many options for all seasons. This year I played volleyball in the fall and I swam in the winter. I currently dance after school. It is great to get to see people outside of your grade. It really opens up the community, and you meet so many people!
Sit-down dinner (6:30-7:15): Students sit with their friends and the teacher of their choosing for a family-style dinner twice a week (Monday and Thursday). Although day students are not required to attend as boarders are, sit-down dinners allow students the opportunity to see teachers outside of class and get to know each other on a more personal level as in a mentorship.
Study hours at the library or in the dorms (7:30-9:30): Time to do homework! I usually stay a couple of nights a week to see my friends or if I need to work on a project.
Go to sleep after completing my homework usually around eleven or (on a bad night) midnight.
Then the next morning, you start over. Although this schedule seems daunting at first, it becomes extremely natural. Even though students at Reserve work hard, I find comfort in getting the chance to see my friends; that is what makes the Reserve community so strong.
|More than just delicious burritos!|
During the demanding weeks at Reserve as we suffocate under heaps of homework and the stress amplifies, the weekend serves as the bright light at the end of the tunnel. From 5:45 p.m. on Friday, after sports practice ends, until 11 p.m. on Saturday, Reserve students are liberated from the classroom and can enjoy as they please. These two days serve as a refuge from the deadlines, tests and all the burdens of school life. We do not have to worry about completing homework and can spend this precious times with friends.
Some of my most favorite WRA memories have come from the long hours spent in glorious Hudson. This routine always starts on Saturday at noon. After coming out of ECHO, my friends and I eagerly wait for each other, anxious for our adventure into the depths of downtown Hudson.
Our first stop is Chipotle, a common sanctuary for Reserve students. While eating our delicious concoction, we sit and talk about various affairs, laughing and truly enjoying the moment. These moments are fascinating because we can spend hours talking without running out of things to say, making the whole moment even greater. After three hours at Chipotle and polite requests from the staffers to leave, we take our adventure to another establishment, Cold Stone Creamery.
As a post-lunch confection, ice cream has the ability to provide our stomachs with sweet pleasure as well as serve as means for more laughter and enjoyment among friends. Our conversation perfectly picks up right where it left off and before we know he have spent another 2 hours eating ice cream. Then we migrate to the open fields, right in the center of downtown, to just sit in the grass and enjoy our time with each other. Before we know it, the sun has fallen and it is 6 p.m. We make the trek back to campus and have the option to spend time in the Green Key or participate in any of the weekend activities (movie runs, bowling trips, sports competitions, etc...).
Almost at the end of my junior year, I think these weekend excursions have made my WRA experience much better. This time has allowed to develop close friendships as well as create memories I will happily look back on. I think this aspect of Reserve, the freedom to spend time wherever you like, makes it a special, warm place for all.
Hi all! Welcome to my next food tour post! This time, I will take you to the following amazing places:
Basic information: Flip Side is owned by the same owner of Three Palms. Therefore, the environment is similar and the food is just as amazing! There is always a long line on weekends so it would be better to go during the week. The burgers and milkshakes are constantly rated the best in the Hudson area.
- Any burgers they have! My personal favorite is the ‘Say Cheese’ burger. It is just a simple cheeseburger yet the meat is awesome quality-fresh and juicy. I can always finish the entire burger on my own with a milkshake!
- Chef’s shake! It is my favorite milkshake on their menu and you will know why after I tell you what flavor it is. Peanut butter and pretzel! That’s right! It sounds amazing already doesn’t it? It tastes more like ice cream than milkshake due to the smooth texture and you can taste the real ingredients those shake makers put in :).
- Corn dogs! THEY ARE SO GOOD!!! Since I eat so much, a burger and a milkshake do not get me full enough, so corn dogs do the job! With a crispy outside and juicy hot dog inside, they are beyond amazing. They are always served fresh.
The wait can go up to half an hour or longer so make sure you go there early! The waiters and waitresses aren’t always fast since there are too many customers.
Basic information: I am from China and therefore, I crave Chinese food from time to time. My Asian soul would be knocking on my stomach to remind me that it’s time to inject some Chinese food, and Noble House is always my top choice. As someone who lived in China up till she was 16 years old, Noble House is one of the most authentic Chinese food restaurants I have ever been to. It even outraces some Chinese food restaurants in big cities like New York and Los Angeles.
- Eggplant Yu Shang! This is the one thing that I get every single time when I go because it is one of my favorite dishes in China. It is almost identical to the ones I can get at restaurants back in Shanghai. Eggplant is cooked with diced meat in soy sauce and it really is the best!
- Shrimp with Eggs! Yes! Noble house has its hidden menu and this is one dish that you cannot find on their official menu. However, it is too good to be left out. Take a bite and it can take me to Hong Kong where this dish is originated!
It is relatively pricey compared to other restaurants. It will cost two people around $40 for dinner. However, the environment is very nice and it’s definitely worth a shot! You can also order delivery on campus if you don’t feel like walking all the way downtown.
Choose groups to clone to: