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, Caitlin '16, Kyle '16, Anna '15, Niraj '16, Joey '15, Jessica '15, Cat '15, Sophie '15 and Kristina '16 share their perspectives on anything and everything WRA. Read on!
The first sign of Christmas at Western Reserve Academy is the cold. It’s the first thing that people notice when they are walking from class to class. People may notice it getting cold around Thanksgiving, but the real chill comes with the consistent snow in December. Students and teachers alike get all bundled up between periods to make the march from Seymour to Wilson, or KFAC to the library. The worst of all is the walk from class to lunch at Ellsworth. Once you round the corner onto Aurora Street from Brick Row, instantly you are exposed to the wind and snow of the open area. The walk to the dining hall, although on a decline, is nothing but an uphill struggle. The conditions only get worse as you near your destination. As you finally stumble into Ellsworth, tripping over the abundance of backpacks outside the coatroom, warmth hits you wonderfully, making the trip seem worth it. However, the trip back to class is no better. You put on your coat, pull your hat over your ears, wrap your scarf tightly around your neck and make the trek back to Seymour for your next class.
Despite all the snowy weather and rosy cheeks from the cold, people raise their spirits around the holidays at WRA. Students donate toys and money for the Toys for Tots collection, people volunteer for the Salvation Army, and so much more. Teachers open their homes to students for cookies, hot chocolate and conversation. WRA truly becomes even more of a community during the holiday season. I believe this makes the Christmas season so special at Reserve. No matter what the diverse collection of faculty and students believe, they all embrace the spirit of the season, and most importantly, one another as one big family.
Joseph Anthony Mylott
WRA Student Life
on Wednesday December 17 at 02:38PM
The past weekend, we had our fall dance performance, Let’s Go To the Movies. The performance included a lot of soundtracks from different movies such as Gone with the Wind, Austin Powers, Harry Potter, American Beauty and more. As an advanced dancer, and someone who has been participating in the WRA Dance Program for the past three years, I was exhilarated for the performance.
Opening night was on Friday, and we had a tech week before to make sure the dance performance is an enjoyable experience for the entire audience. This year, not only girls were actively involved in our program, so were boys. In one of the regular dance classes we have the same number of boys and girls, which enabled partnering to happen. Even though we had to take almost two hours out of our busy days to prepare for the dance performance, it was worth it. We grew close everyday as a team. Laughs coming out from the dressing room, smiles on our faces after each rehearsal, and countless pictures that were taken during the week are all evidence of our love for dance.
Mrs. Barth, our dance teacher, is extremely dedicated to our performances, which make them outstanding. Even at the time when her baby was due in a week, she still devoted herself to be there with us every night, to ensure the quality of each run. Our program is like a family, and Mrs. Barth takes care of us like a mother. Her compassion leads us to be better dancers and people.
I do not think there is anything more special than being a cast member in a production here at Reserve. This year’s fall musical, The Addams Family, was a really fun experience to be a part of. At some point during the long dress rehearsals, true connections were formed. Friendships old and new flourished due to the time commitment, and the commitments made to one another. This year especially, the cast had a really fun time. The atmosphere backstage was colorful and full of energy, and each person played a big role in the success of the show.
The best part of musical rehearsal was definitely the time between dinner and rehearsal. Each day we would arrive 10 to 15 minutes before and play music that everyone enjoyed and could sing along to. A time to escape from the daily whirl of tests, papers and sports, and just be with friends created a really fun atmosphere. I encourage every member of the Reserve community to step outside their comfort zone; ultimately the reward will be much greater than the initial sacrifice. I want to thank everyone involved in making the production a success, and also making it lively.
Most people have heard of The Addams Family, and many of them can even sing the little theme song in their head, but not everyone knows what it’s actually about. I was one of these people. However, this weekend at Reserve I attended this years musical and learned all about this creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky family. It was a really great way to spend Halloween and I can honestly say I loved every second of it.
I must admit that I do not really enjoy shows. I love the idea of dressing up and going out to the theatre to see a wonderful musical or play, but in reality I can barely keep my eyes open after an hour of sitting still in a dark theatre. That was not the case this time. The cast was incredible and made the production so fun. One of the great performances was by Mika Takahashi, which was so awesome to see. Mika is a great dancer, but it was fun to see her in a new role of acting. Another great performance was by Simon Ong, who even went so far as to shave off his luscious head of hair to fit his role. The musical was so entertaining because each member of the cast really got into character and gave it their all and there were plenty of jokes to keep the fun alive.
This really encompasses what it’s like to be at Reserve. No one feels trapped in a stereotype, no one feels like they have to act a certain way or do certain things, they are free to explore their options and really invest themselves in their endeavors. This is what I love so much about this school. The cast ranged from the student body president to multiple sports captains and everything in between. No one is a theatre geek, no one is a jock, we are all just students at a great school. Unfortunately, The Addams Family is over, but I would highly encourage you to come see another production here at WRA!
Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of the week – with Friday, the bright light at the end of the tunnel, just out of hands reach – Reserve students usually find themselves suffocating under mounds of homework, sport practices and Netflix episodes. Reaching midweek, the last thing students want to do is sit through an hour long assembly in the Chapel. Surprisingly enough, before I was about to surrender to exhaustion right in my Chapel pew, in came marching thirteen men in tails. Dressed to the nines, they took over the Chapel stage with poise and excitement. My nap could wait.
The Yale Spizzwinks(?), America’s first and oldest a cappella group, ventured far past their campus in Connecticut and came prepared to entertain on the grounds of WRA. Serenading the crowd with songs like Frank Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight, Let it Be by the Beatles, and Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band, they managed to incorporate every genre – all within a forty-five minute time slot. Besides their harmonic voices and fabulous selections of songs, these Yale students brought with them a comedic and amusing humor; Harvard, Yale’s rival, being the butt end of most of their jokes. Each man, though all dressed the same, brought a unique flare to the overall performance.
The Spizzwinks(?), yes, the question mark is included in their name, tour both nationally and internationally. After their kickoff in Cleveland, they head cross-country to San Diego, Ventura, and Albuquerque, continue onto Florida and finish off their season in Turkey and South Africa. After their performance, Spizzwink members stuck around and answered questions. While eavesdropping, I heard words like “a-ca-awkward” and Pitch Perfect. Though a cappella groups are far from a new concept, with the help of Rebel Wilson’s hilarious character and Anna Kendrick’s voice, in the movie Pitch Perfect, a cappella groups have become the new rage. If you get the chance to see the Yale Spizzwinks(?), take it; you will not be disappointed.
Stress. The whole of senior year is filled with it. This semester is the last, and probably the most important, of our academic transcripts. On top of schoolwork, we have common apps, essays, supplements, and more to fill out in order to apply to college. Sports and social events cram the weekends as well. It’s impossible to fit everything in and do everything justice. However, we must make choices and live with the results.
My life is getting out of hand with all of the applications and work I have to do. But, Western Reserve Academy offers so much help for anyone experiencing difficult time, for whatever reason. There are application help nights and informational meals with college admissions representatives. Some Saturdays are devoted to working on the college process. Teachers accommodate the needs of students and write awesome letters of recommendation. WRA really steps up and delivers for their students in these times of overwhelming stress.
Life isn’t crazy for only the seniors though. Many other students receive help for their various needs as well. Teachers are probably the best resource on campus. They are always available to talk. They hold extra help sessions in the evenings. They even open up their homes to students. At times, life at WRA seems overbearing and too difficult. But so many people want to see students succeed that it’s hard to get completely lost in the shuffle. Although WRA seems like an intimidating place with unbearable amounts of work, not only is the help amazing, but also the rewards for all of one’s efforts are immense.
Joseph Anthony Mylott
WRA Student Life
on Friday October 17 at 02:23PM
Coming to Reserve with little experience with any sports, I can confidently say that my tennis experience has transformed me into a person who is passionate about things I do, and helps me put 100% effort in everything if possible. After practicing everyday under the burning sun over summer, I finally made varsity. It may sound normal for people who have been playing sports for most of their lives; but for someone who picked up her racquet for the first time during her sophomore year, it is a great accomplishment. From the achievement I obtained, I learned that if I put enough effort in something I am passionate about, it will pay off eventually.
Stepping back on the tennis court during preseason, I was so excited when Sebastien, our tennis coach, announced to the team that I secured the last spot on varsity. All my hard work over the summer paid off. Even though I was taking college credit courses at Brown University, I did not give up on playing tennis. I would go out to play in between my two classes and I never stopped or found any excuse for myself not to go. Sometimes I did not even have time to shower before the second class, but I didn’t mind; I loved playing tennis. I wanted to get better and I desired to be a part of the team. When I heard Sebastien’s positive feedback on how much I have improved and saw my teammates’ smiley faces, I knew everything I did was worth it. Tennis continued on teaching me lessons during the season.
One day before a match, Sebastien made the girls go to the “T” on the tennis court as usual. And there, I learned one of the best lessons in my life; he said, “Hey girls, I want you to remember one thing. You get to play tennis, you don’t have to, but you get to. You guys choose to be here so let’s play and enjoy yourself and put 100% effort in this match.” “Right”, I thought, “we get to play tennis. No one told me to put so much effort in this sport; it is my own will doing so, so why not give the best possible?” After that, I gave all I have every time when I step on the tennis court. I move my feet; I look at the ball; I reach to get every single ball possible because I get to play tennis. It is such a privilege that I get to step on the court every day and do something I love to do for two hours.
Tennis season is officially over, but everything this sport taught me will last, and it will benefit me in everything else that I am doing in life. A special thank you to Coach Barsella, who taught me how to hit a tennis ball, and to Jevs who encouraged me and inspired me to be the tennis player I am today, and to Sebastien who offered me the opportunity to play, who trusted me with my ability of winning. And finally, thank you to the entire tennis team who made my senior season. Reserve tennis, you will be missed.
Intercultural understanding is a very important aspect of our daily life at Reserve. Not only are we lucky to have so many nationalities, beliefs, and cultures existent in the students and faculty, but we’re also lucky that our teachers encourage us to immerse ourselves into culture as much as possible and take advantage of the awesome opportunities Reserve offers. Sunday, September 28, is Confucius day. On this day, we honor our amazing educators for all they do. Ms. Chen, our Mandarin teacher, took many students from all levels of the Chinese program to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to view a presentation from The Confucius Institute (孔子學院). The vibrant showcase included traditional Chinese dancing, singing, instrumentation, and painting, as well as a martial arts display. Each act was different, and extremely unique. The colorful acts were extremely fun to watch due to the energy and passion of the performers. Overall, the showcase allowed us to learn a lot about the cultural values, beliefs, and legends. Following the performance, we had the privilege to take a photo with all of the performers and meet the director of the Confucius Institute.
We were then given some time to explore the museum, where we learned about Chinese history in the new Silk Road exhibit in the museum, which traced the Silk Road back to its beginnings in Xi’an China. Finally, our last stop on the trip was to Pacific East, a restaurant where we all enjoyed bubble tea and dumplings, a great way to end a day filled with fun and culture. Ms. Chen is an amazing teacher who invests herself into our education, well-being, and growth; characteristics which are evident in the opportunities she creates for us to learn about and appreciate Chinese culture.
Sometimes in a boarding school it’s easy to get sucked into a bubble. We eat here, sleep here, go to classes here, study here, live here-- everything we do is centered in this one place and it makes it easy to lose sight of the world around us. Luckily, twice a year we have the opportunity to zone out of our stressful school lives and tune into the broader community around us: community service day, also known as Go MAD (Go Make a Difference). While WRA plans many wonderful service trips to the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Pine Ridge Reservation, it’s always nice to see the impact you can have in people’s lives right around you. This past Friday marked our first community service day of the year and it was a great opportunity to step outside of our usual lives and make a difference in someone else’s.
There are endless opportunities on community service day for how you’d like to help: making food to donate, volunteering at a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, or raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, just to name a few. This year, I was part of a group that made blankets to give to the homeless and knitted hats for babies at a local hospital. It was a really great day to have fun with friendswhile actually feeling like I could have some small impact on someone’s life for the better. But regardless of who’s in your project’s group, it’s great to know that on this day, we gather as a small school community to go out and help the broader community we live in, making community service day one of my favorite days of the year.
Catherine is so excited to have been cast in this year's fall musical!
I, Catherine Berry, one of the five second graders who could not embody enough talent to secure a spot in my elementary school's children's choir, thought that I would try my luck at auditions for the upcoming school musical, The Addams Family. Nervous chitter chatter filled the theater as rookies and old timers filtered into the auditorium chairs. Talking turned into group singing and eventually matured into partner auditions. Two by two, singers of all levels tried their hand at the audition piece. Bless my partner that had to put up with my inability to stay on key, hold a rhythm, control a tempo, or read music for that matter. I thought that with nine additional years under my belt and many extra shower solos, I must be a little better than my old elementary self. To say the least, you'll be seeing me in the audience! At the end of the day, I realized singing was not something you magically picked up over time, go figure! But, I did it. I summed up more courage than talent and gave it my all. What I am getting to is, go for it. Skip study hours for an evening and try out for at least one theatrical production. That is the great thing about dear ol' Reserve; even those who are more into athletics or academics still have the chance to try out for our school’s shows. With three shows every year ranging from monster-esque musicals to powerful plays and even a spirited Shakespeare sonnet, there is a little something for everyone. Any Reserve student can tell you, we don't have the sports “jocks”, theater “geeks” or academic “nerds” because we all mesh into the same group of green blazer-wearing fools. So put it on your Reserve Bucket List to try out and if you do not get in, they could always use help backstage.