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, Max '13, Julia '13, Alex '14, Rebecca '13, and Diane '14 share their perspectives on anything and everything WRA. Read on!
With graduation less than a week away, it is time to come to terms with the fact that my four years at WRA are really ending. It has been an inspiring journey and there is much that I will miss. When considering all the people I will have to say goodbye to, one teacher especially stands out: my advisor, Mr. Ong.
The advising system at WRA is one of the many factors that make me appreciate the school. All incoming new students are paired with one faculty member to serve as an important figure in both their transition into the school as well as throughout their time at WRA. As an incoming freshman I was paired with an advisor who shared my current interest of writing. As a sophomore, my tennis coach became my advisor. Finally, as my interests changed, Mr. Ong became my third and final advisor. I think I am very fortunate to have experienced three advisors, because every teacher has valuable advice and I know I have learned and benefited from all three of my advisors. The entire advisory system helps new students in a second way – your advisory becomes an instant family and you know you can always count on them as friends when you are trying to adjust to the WRA culture. I am still close friends with other students I met from my advisory freshman year and they have been just as invaluable to me in terms of advice as my advisors. I certainly enjoy buffet lunches with my friends, but I also find myself looking forward to sit down lunches with my advisory every Wednesday. These lunches allow us to stay connected and update each other on how everything has been going for the past week. I especially value the advisory system because it has allowed me to form bonds with other students and teachers, people I might not have interacted with otherwise.
Thanks, Mr. Ong!
Mr. Ong, however, has been my advisor for the longest as well as my teacher for two years. His enthusiasm and sense of humor make him one of the most entertaining teachers to have for a class. His kindness and caring nature make him one of the best to have for an advisor and one of my favorite people I know from WRA. He does his best to remember our birthdays, and always shares his Mio with us (he can never be found without it). For our last sit down lunch, he even brought an ice cream cake, congratulating the seniors in the group on our upcoming graduation. Personally, Mr. Ong has gone above and beyond to help me with various research papers and is always a wonderful advocate for me.
Even though I am physically leaving WRA, I will never truly be able to leave the school behind, because I will always have the bonds I have made with other people. I know Mr. Ong is someone I can continue to consult even as I move forward on to college at Columbia University. In essence, I really just want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Ong and everyone else who has helped me throughout my past four years, because I know I wouldn’t be where I am today or the person I have become without their help and guidance.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
by Rebecca Grace Cartellone
on Friday May 24 at 04:53PM
Ah, what a beautiful time! Classes dwindle down, spirits heighten, beige khakis exchange themselves for pastel shorts, and Ohio emerges from its hibernation with full gusto. Flirting with the last few weeks of my high school career, I am filled with a flurry of emotions. So as I sit here now, outside Seymour Hall on a Saturday afternoon, barefoot in shorts and a tank top, relishing in the sun and sounds of my senior spring, I would like to share with you as a sort of final testimony some Reservian sentimentality.
Max heads to Brown this fall.
Today, while listening to Eilidh prepare her "This I Believe Speech" in the Chapel, I took the opportunity to sit in the upper balcony, the realm of freshmen during Morning Meeting. Looking down, crouching forward to see the podium, I recoiled from a flood of memories. Freshman year: all the new faces, all the silly naiveté, and oh how we wished we could be as cool as those seniors in the front pews.
Nowadays, looking up at them, I find equal jealousy within me. Why do they get three more years here when I only have three weeks? When freshmen come to my math help sessions, they astound me with their curiosity. How they want to learn and to glean every nugget of knowledge they can. How in awe they are of everything WRA has to offer, from classes to professors to travel trips to prom, and how much they want to be a part of it all. There is truly nothing comparable to witnessing the potential of people and knowing that one day they will attain it. Sometimes I wish I were a smarter freshman.
Even in writing this, it hits me harder as to the scarcity of time at Reserve left. In the final days I scramble to do things I might never be able to do again. I dare to throw around a ball and play with the JV Baseball boys (a sport I played for only one year almost decade ago). I share my poetry at the BUFO Coffeehouse. I go downtown with friends and eat inordinate cones of ice cream. I sneak into the library and listen to classmates present their Senior Thesis papers. I go to sit-down dinner with my "family" and play 4-square afterwards on the Patio. I lie in the front fields and do absolutely nothing.
Reserve has changed me, undeniably, unimaginable, and importantly, for the better. The classes have pulled me forward intellectually and the work load has established my perseverance. Sports and theatre and various extra-curricular activities have banished me from my timid comfort zone and emboldened me to gain the reputation of "crazy, wild Max" on campus. The faculty, staff, students and faculty-kids have made me a better person in every possible way. I am terrifically excited to begin college at Brown University come fall, yet I know that this entire present of mine, and all the future that lies ahead, has grown from my time at WRA.
People say that high school is the best four years of your life and I honestly cannot think of anywhere I would rather have spent them than Western Reserve Academy.
by Max Rosenwasser
on Friday May 10 at 03:48PM
As my junior year comes to a close (woah) and I look back on my three years here, there is a large portion of Western Reserve to which I have not given rightful credit. Many schools claim to have a great student-teacher bond. Yes, this holds true for WRA, but to a much a higher degree. Warning: cheesiness ensues, but truthful cheesiness nonetheless. Some of my funniest conversations-- the most knowledgeable, the most thought-provoking, the most meaningful-- have been between student and teacher.
Miss Kidera (center) dines with Alex and his friends every Thursday.
I believe it would be difficult to find teachers who are so easy to talk to anywhere else. Our educators here are smart, but that is not what sets them apart. The laughs, the comforting, the amiability: this is what sets them apart. Our interactions with teachers outside of class completely changes the normal high school experience.
Every Thursday night we have ‘sit-down’ dinner. Each table in the dining hall is headed by a faculty member and then joined by about six students. I laugh at that dinner more than any other time of the week. All of the students look forward to spending time with our faculty head of the table. We fool and laugh, and the next day half of us attend this teacher’s English class. I do not hesitate to say that this meal is the highlight of my week.
I could talk endlessly on the interactions between student and teacher at WRA, but at the possibility of boring you (or having already bored you-- sorry), I will keep it short. Beyond my beloved Thursday sit-down table, I have both thoughtful and hilarious conversations with the kids in my dorm and the teacher there for the night. I have an amazing swim coach who doubles as a teacher to whom I can talk in and out of practice. My advisor acts as a second mom, and I can go to her for anything. I work hard here, but I work hard to make them proud. They make the education and time at WRA a blessing. And it is the memories of my dinner table, a group of great friends-- both students and teacher-- that I will carry with me long after graduating.
by Alexander Dean Fellows
on Monday April 29 at 04:18PM
As spring break comes to a close, I realize that I am heading in to my final marking period of high school and my final few months at WRA. I’m feeling nostalgic and can’t wait to make my last weeks really count. With AP tests quickly approaching and a new ECHO module on writing stories for children soon to begin, I know that I’ll certainly be busy academically. At the same time, excitement builds among all seniors anxiously awaiting graduation and other end-of-year celebrations. Seniors are allowed later check-in to take advantage of our diminishing time together and spend as much time as possible with friends. We know that come graduation, our journey together will end and we will all go our separate ways, but the bonds we have formed over the past four years will not be broken. We will always be the Western Reserve Academy Class of 2013.
Becca with her Senior Thesis advisor.
Undoubtedly, a person’s high school experience is going to shape that person’s life, but I feel that WRA has given me much more than the typical high school experience has to offer, and certainly more preparation for college. In fact, as I am currently attempting to make a decision about where to attend college, I know that I wouldn’t have the option of attending many of the schools I am considering without the help, guidance, and education I have received at WRA. The College Guidance Office has been here for me throughout the entire preparation and application process. My college advisor, as well as the rest of the College Guidance Office, helped me feel as confident as possible about the schools I applied to and especially about my essays. The college application process is daunting and stressful, and waiting for results can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a person can go through. I remember feeling almost nauseous, staring at my computer screen as my results loaded on the page. The heartbreak of rejection can truly feel like a harsh blow; I wasn’t accepted to my first choice college but I know that I will be happy at wherever I end up this fall and am truly grateful to have many incredible choices. Despite the stress, it’s extremely exciting to realize that applying to college is a huge step towards your future. And of course, receiving an acceptance makes the entire process completely worth all the time and effort.
I don’t think I could be where I am right now without all the experiences I have gained from the opportunities offered to me at WRA. For example, the various research papers I have written over my four years were fantastic examples to demonstrate to colleges my research experience and work ethic. In an interview, having just completed my Senior Thesis, I had plenty to talk about with the college alum and could discuss in-depth my topic of corn ethanol with my interviewer. Although writing the paper was hard work and took hours of focused research, it definitely paid off in the end and is a valuable part of the WRA experience. Sometimes it surprises me how much certain assignments, projects, and lessons have benefitted me in the past and will continue to be valuable in the future. I feel very bittersweet leaving WRA, but I am confident that I am well prepared for college and for life beyond high school.
by Rebecca Grace Cartellone
on Wednesday April 17 at 10:36AM
“...play on.” Ask any WRA student, and there is a very high probability that that person will be able to finish the line. Most years, the English department asks each grade to read the same books. From freshman and The Odyssey, to sophomores and The Catcher in the Rye, to juniors and The Great Gatsby: the continuity allows for a connection between all the students here at WRA.
Alex rehearses for Twelfth Night.
My title references Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s great comedy of unrequited love, a play that every freshman reads. Personally, I loved it. Drunken banter, fake letters of love, and gender reversal: how could I not? With a love of acting and as a freshman reading this play, I wondered how cool it would be to actually perform this. Five plays later, and the audition monologues were placed in the library the spring of my current junior year for (Did you guess it yet?) Twelfth Night. Elated, I auditioned, hoping for a part, but knew that I would be excited for this play with or without me. Luckily, as it turns out, I received the part of Olivia’s ever strict and pretentious servant, Malvolio. Now I’m living out my freshman dream that was created thanks to this core curriculum, and the hype for this play is great. The whole school already knows all the characters, and to see fellow classmates in the roles they read as freshmen is a pretty spectacular and awesome thing in my eyes.
WRA makes connections everywhere, in and out of the classroom. One year reading a play, the next performing it. As we learn about the Roaring Twenties in history, we read a novel that details perfectly the aspects of that era with The Great Gatsby. The classes here teach the students to do more than take notes and pass tests, but to engage and make connections to all parts of their life. This is a part of WRA I have always admired and for which I will always be thankful.
by Alexander Dean Fellows
on Friday March 29 at 12:55PM
Hello everyone! I am enjoying myself this spring break, but I would like to share this post with you about something I have noticed while at school. Anyone who knows me knows that I love food. And those who really know me know that I even have a blog dedicated to it. I am a firm believer of the power of a good meal. The aroma of freshly baked cupcakes will immediately improve a person’s mood, regardless of the situation. I also love how food has the ability to bring people together culturally, religiously, and socially. From personal experience, I have made a number of friends through this medium.
Food brings friends together.
I am often times very busy between school, sports and volunteer work that I sometimes miss meals. My next door neighbor, Mary Moon, is always there to share with me some of her food whenever needed. It was through these acts of kindness that we became friends. It went from her giving me some food to us hanging out while eating Shin Ramen. Who would have known that instant ramen makes instant friends? Mary and I went from not really knowing each other to being really close.
We have something very special here at WRA called sit-down meals. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday students have seated formal and informal meals with a faculty member and a group of other students. During these meals students have the opportunity to connect with teachers outside the classroom. Personally, a group of friends and I sit with Mr. Gerber, a history teacher, during Monday and Thursday sit-down dinners. During these meals I have the opportunity to touch base with friends I don’t see too often and connect with teachers I don’t have in class. Our conversations are never forced or awkward, as they ranges from politics to strange twitter habits. These meals are when I truly feel part of the WRA tradition. Sit down meals have been a part of this school for many years, and I am glad that I can come out saying that I have been a part of that. Food not only has the ability to bring people together, but it also has the ability to create new relationships that will last a lifetime.
by Diane Ogede
on Monday March 18 at 12:27PM
Last year I signed up to travel to New York City with a school group during Mid-Winter break because frankly, I needed a quick escape from Ohio and the city was calling my name. Although I had witnessed its wonders before, this visit during my junior year was different. I wasn’t connected in a chain of clasped hands to my dad and sister, nor was I imprisoned by the rigorous itinerary of my middle school class trip. I was liberated unto the city and free to explore every square inch the magical island offered. This year I signed up to travel to New York City because I wanted to go with WRA and something simply told me it was right, without any other proper course of action.
It began before the day did, with a 6:00 AM departure followed by an eight hour bus ride towards the rising sun. However, as we were about to cross from New Jersey into New York, Miranda ‘14 commented, “Okay, guess it’s time to go home now.” Indeed, the ride itself was so much fun, how could Broadway compare? Well, needless to say, the weekend only improved from there.
Within a few hours, I was already leading a small group of Reservians to the Gershwin Theatre to behold Wicked, a musical I have been dying to see for near a decade. Callie ’13 and I lip-synced the entire performance like hopeless fangirls.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
The next morning, my best friend since 1st grade and I fulfilled another fantasy by having breakfast at Tiffany’s. Then, after a wonderful Episcopalian service at St. Thomas (much to the fascination of a Jew and a Catholic), we headed down to Greenwich Village to see Really, Really, a play featuring WRA alumna, Aleque Reid. Superbowl dinner was in Chinatown where we bonded with the locals and two other recent alumni in a boisterous mixture of cultures. Emma ’14, Sithara ’13, and I ended the night with a Local Natives concert that completely blew my mind.
The next two days were spent traipsing about SoHo, Little Italy, Times Square and Central Park. Although there were certain required events (e.g. MoMA, Rigoletto), which were always enjoyable, we were given quite a large deal of free time and free reign. We could go ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, explore every little boutique and bookstore, or simply enjoy a nice cup of coffee and watch the New Yorkers go about their busy lives.
Although the trip only lasted a span of a few days, it was an experience I know I shall remember forever. New friendships sprouted and old ones blossomed to new heights. The freedom given to us allowed me to gain a new appreciation for New York City as well as my possible future. We might not have left our mark on the Big Apple, but it left its mark on us.
by Max Rosenwasser
on Wednesday March 6 at 02:03PM
Many students at Western Reserve Academy await the coming of spring…especially seniors. We call it “Senior Spring” because it’s our last season on campus and usually the lightest and most fun, as our careers at Western Reserve Academy come to a close. Spring in general is probably my favorite time of the school year to be on campus. The birds chatter outside the open windows as the slight breeze ruffles the test you can’t seem to focus on. After school on the way to the Mac for sports, boys outside of every dorm are playing Frisbee, girls sit on picnic blankets, and Señorita can usually be seen walking her dogs. The plethora of greetings in the hallway and on Brick Row seems to be as chirpy as the birds’. Spring equals happy.
Spring brings class outside.
Something very unique about Western Reserve Academy in the fall and spring is that classes are oftentimes held outside when the weather proves nice enough. Teachers take white boards out or English classes have their discussion out on the grass or the commonly occupied Adirondack chairs. The intellectuality students at Western Reserve Academy hold allows teachers to lighten class and make it more enjoyable while still getting tasks completed. Instead of being locked inside a brick building all day long, like students at most other schools, we get to enjoy the outdoors and bask in its heavenly offerings while still learning and growing. Having class outside will probably be one of the things I’ll miss most about this school.
If you were to ask anyone on campus what his favorite season is during the school year, nine times out of ten he would reply, “Spring.” After the cold of winter, spring lightens the overall mood and feel of campus. (I personally am not a huge fan of cold weather, which is why I’m headed south for college and await with impatience the coming of spring.) As winter slowly turns into spring, I look forward to the blue skies accompanied by green grass, classes outside, laughs, and memories. Senior Spring? Life is good.
by Julia Doreen Schiciano
on Thursday February 28 at 12:46PM
One of my favorite nights of the entire school year is the annual Culture Night Celebration, organized by SICU, or Students for Inter-Cultural Understanding. This year’s event featured presentations from students of various backgrounds, including British, Irish, and Vietnamese. Following the videos, dances, and performances, the community was treated to a wide selection of delicious food representing cultures ranging from Indian to Mexican to Chinese.
On Culture Night, Becca and Tiffany gave a presentation about their trip to Peru.
In prior years, I have baked Italian pizzelles cookies, but this year I was actually involved in a presentation. Last spring break, Señor Fraser took five other students and me to Peru for just under two weeks. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life. At culture night, along with Tiffany and Trent, two other seniors who went on the trip, I shared pictures from the excursion and some cultural facts about Peru. The trip allowed for language immersion and various new experiences, such as eating alpaca and guinea pig. On the trip we visited Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu, probably the most incredible place I have ever been. The ancient city of the Incas looms out of the fog at the top of a mountain that took over an hour to hike up. Machu Picchu feels magical as you stand in the clouds and experience a true wonder of history. One of the amazing aspects of WRA is the opportunity to travel and traverse the boundary between classroom and real world learning and experience.
For Culture Night I also assisted my friends Max, Shivani, and Maggie in making foods to represent their cultures. I learned how to make Jewish Hamantashen cookies as well as Indian mango lassi drink and mutya. My friends helped me to make Italian crostini, a toasted bread appetizer that can be topped with anything from cheese to fruit to Nutella. I love being able to share a piece of my culture with my community and learning about different cultures as well. Culture Night is always a memorable experience, whether because of a Vietnamese rap, a delicious chocolate croissant, or the laughs shared by an entire community.
by Rebecca Grace Cartellone
on Monday February 11 at 08:08PM
A day goes by and you don’t really notice anything different about yourself. Waking up, everything is pretty much the same (barring some messy bed-head). But as those days turn to weeks and months, somehow you’ve changed greatly and have no idea when it happened. Looking back at my time so far here at WRA, I’ve transformed an incredible amount--in a good way--and I have this school to thank.
Alex has made great friends at WRA.
If my life here were put in fast-forward on a screen, you would see an evolution. I entered WRA and never allowed myself to really make new friends. I found myself in a small group of good friends, but I was afraid to branch out. Reclusion was easy, so I stayed in my tiny, tiny bubble. I thought this trend would continue into sophomore year, but I was wrong. Something changed. There were so many opportunities offered to me here, and so I reached out and tried putting myself out there a little more. From branching out extra-curricularly, I opened myself up to meeting new and awesome people whom I had not known before. From doing plays, managing the girls soccer team, and joining numerous clubs, I changed myself. Because of this, I no longer confined myself to one group of friends. There were so many amazing people to meet on this campus, and I knew I had to do all I could to reach out and meet them if I wanted to receive the full WRA experience.
Now, forwarding through many weeks and months, I have arrived where I am today. Through the many opportunities at WRA I have changed more than I ever thought possible. I have spoken of my changed here at WRA previously, but who I am now has a large part to do with my journey here. We may not notice it, but the students here are constantly evolving. Whether it be a change from hating math to loving it, or being horrified of the stage to loving it, the opportunities really allow the kids here to find themselves. Going to WRA allows you to constantly search for new interests and friends, and I know I’ll continue to find new and great things here until graduation arrives.
by Alexander Dean Fellows
on Friday February 1 at 02:57PM