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, Alex '14, Diane '14, Anna '15, Joey '15 and Sophie '15 share their perspectives on anything and everything WRA. Read on!
Anna and her friendsenjoy a visit from Santa after Vespers.
When asked, “What does your perfect day look like?” many people paint the picture of blue skies, warm temperatures, running around the beach with the whole ocean rolling around in front of them, and squishing their toes around in the sand. But to me, that’s nowhere near perfect! My ideal day is right about now: grey skies, little crystals of snow falling from the sky and laying a thick coating of their pure white happiness on the ground; snow angels and snowmen scattered through the lawns; lights glittering across homes and throughout Hudson; the scent of warm holiday cookies coming out of the oven with hot cocoa in hand; big chunky scarves and thick winter sweaters; and the recognizable happiness behind each person’s smile. This wonderful time around the holidays is full of so much cheerfulness I find it simply impossible to be upset about anything! But this list is missing one very important thing, Vespers. Vespers is an annual tradition here at WRA. It takes place in the Chapel and is full of wonderful singing, great music, and many families squeezing in to catch a glimpse of this wonderful tradition that truly marks the beginning of the holiday season.
Diane and her advisor, Ms. Maseelall backstage during Diane's recent dance performance.
Hello all, and Happy Thanksgiving in advance! I am currently at home enjoying the break from school. Inasmuch as I love WRA and its beautiful campus, Chicago is a city I just can’t be away from for too long. I guess that’s one plus about being at boarding school. I have definitely become a lot more appreciative of my city, my friends, and my family. All this befits the holiday season! Nonetheless, there’s a lot to be personally grateful for:
I am thankful for my friends at WRA. As cliche as it might sound, without my friends I don’t know what I would do with myself. Not only do they provide me with a great support system, but also they make up 90% of the fun and memories I have on campus. Next, I am thankful for Seymour House being a dorm this year. Having my own bathroom, free laundry, and access to Pioneer WiFi is a luxury very few boarders come across, and I am very appreciative of it. I’m grateful for my adviser, Ms. Maseelall, for letting me do homework in her house and letting me play with her adorable dog, Oscar. I’m thankful for the school studio, nerd ropes in the bookstore, Taco Tuesday, cancelled first period classes, the BBB (one of those inside jokes), dorm feeds, and Skype calls to various countries. The list goes on forever, and that in itself sets things in perspective for me. It's undeniable that there's a lot to be thankful for! Even when things get tough for me at WRA, I remember that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Saturday Academy is a special offering of WRA; the program allows students to take classes in a variety of areas, including business, environmental studies, archeology, psychology, and so on. I picked “Creative Movement” from the assortment. This fall, our "creative movers” not only danced inventively in class, but also brought their creativity to morning meeting.
The flash mob took Morning Meeting by surprise!
After dancing around campus once on a Saturday morning, after passing Mr. Ong’s classroom and enjoying the jealous glare from students sitting in class, our class came up with another fabulous idea. At our last class meeting, the “creative movers,” following Mrs. Barth’s advice, decided to surprise everyone with a flash mob during Morning Meeting. We were exhilarated by this idea, and we started to throw in all kinds of thoughts about how to organize our flash mob. We did not want it to be a mess; we wanted it to be neat and fun. Finally, we came up with a piece that combines everything we learned in class, including “shadowing,” “mirroring,” and “balancing with a partner.” Then, we practiced a couple of times in the Chapel to make sure everyone understood our plan.
As the day approached, my excitement grew. Finally, it was the time! When Alex said, “Creative Movement?” we were sitting in our spots and ready to go. He took out the boom box and the music started; everything was so fluid and casual. We danced in the aisles downstairs, and we even went up to present an ending pose. The overwhelming applause indicated our success. People kept coming up to me and telling me that our flash mob made their days
Surprises at Morning Meeting are always fun. Special thanks to Mrs. Manoli, Mr. Zimmerman, Mrs. Barth and all the creative movers who made the experience possible!
Halloween is a huge deal at WRA, and everyone goes all out for this holiday. It’s one of those days where people can put themselves out there and not feel uncomfortable because everyone is dressed in elaborate, hilarious, and sometimes even nerdy costumes. And I love it! Halloween is one of the few major holidays in which schools still have class, but that doesn’t stop us here. Regardless of classes, tudents dress up in crazy costumes, which makes the day special. It is one of the few school days when students and teachers alike, are allowed to be out of uniform. This day lets students take advantage of their creative sides and put together a costume worth remembering. Plus, it’s such a fun reason to dress up and have a good time at school.
Halloween fun at WRA!
Many different events take place on Halloween at WRA to enhance the spooky holiday. The first of these events is the Costume Parade at sit-down lunch. After the meal is finished, students who have entered themselves into the parade stroll, strut, stride, swank, and sashay down the center of the dining hall in front of the entire student body in order to show off their costumes. At the end of the parade, teachers judge the costumes and give prizes to the individual student from each grade with the best costume, as well as the group of the students with the best themed costumes. This event always makes for an exciting and entertaining lunch, and it is easily one of my favorite events of the entire school year.
Some teachers like to dress up in costumes as well, like I said before. Some go as far as having themed classes for the holiday where the lessons are based on Halloween. Not all teachers do this, but the themed classes are extremely fun if your teacher does have one.
The largest event on campus during Halloween, however, is the Woodhouse Haunted House. The residents of the Woodhouse dorm, freshman boys, create a haunted house out of the dorm for the entire school. The dorm is covered in spooky decorations, frightening scenes, and disguised students to scare whomever dares venture through the haunted house. It opens at night and usually successfully scares the attendees. This event is always well planned and well executed by the dorm residents and dorm masters. Halloween is a huge holiday at WRA, and the students, teachers, and administrators do all they can to make it a fun day for all.
Joseph Anthony Mylott
WRA Student Life
on Thursday October 31 at 04:00PM
Most the people I have met at WRA distinctly remember the day that they shadowed. They remember whom they shadowed, who gave them their tours, who interviewed them--every detail. I, on the other hand, remember very few things from my shadow day. My brain must have been too overwhelmed to actually remember many things, but one thing I sure do remember was the “three sport requirement” that my student ambassador told me about. Now you see, I’m not exactly someone you would call athletic, not even the slightest bit, so for me, a three sport requirement was somewhat of a death sentence. However, I’m happy to report that I have actually become a little obsessed with a sport; so I assure you that if this could happen for me, there is hope for everyone!
Anna and her teammates at the Sim Earich meet.
I remember looking over the sports catalog, which offered tennis, field hockey, cross country, soccer, swimming, basketball, lacrosse, softball, and many other sports for people with far more athletic ability than I. Finally, I saw my saving grace: afternoon dance. I’ve been dancing since I was three years old, so realizing dance was an option to fulfill this dreaded requirement was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! Unfortunately, my bubble quickly burst when I learned that it was only offered in the winter and spring trimesters, forcing me to choose a fall sport. I weighed my options. Soccer required things like shin guards, which implied pain--out; cross country meant running three to six times the distance that the dreaded annual middle school mile required--out; field hockey required a field hockey stick that people would be wacking around near me--out; well, that left tennis. I don’t know exactly what it was that drew me to tennis. Perhaps it was the cute skirts I’d get to wear or the fact that a tennis ball is relatively soft with the least surface area with which to hurt me when it would inevitably smack me in the face. Or, maybe I was just trying to follow in the footsteps of my sister who had been playing tennis for years. In any case, I found myself writing my name on the tennis sign-up sheet. Tennis was a good experience; I became part of my first team and I made wonderful friends, but I also learned that I was painfully bad at the sport (once I managed to actually drop the ball on my face trying to serve… true story).
Out of sheer boredom, I started running the summer after freshman year. That was all it took for me to become addicted. Every day without fail I would go for runs through all sorts of places, spending all summer building up to my very own half-marathon, which I ran on my own through the metroparks. Nothing had ever given me such immediate satisfaction or such a clear cut goal. I spent one more year on the tennis team before I realized that instead of envying the cross country team every day I should just join it! And so I did. I joined the team this year (my junior year) and it has been an amazing experience. I, the girl who could barely finish the mile in middle school, found myself falling in love with this sport. Every day I feel great going to practice and even better when I walk away. I certainly encourage anyone to try cross country; every day it’s your own personal competition that you experience alongside a group of great people, always working towards your own goal. No bench, no time outs, no equipment: just a pair of shoes and the will to give it your all every single day.
Anna Karen Ballard
on Saturday October 26
When I first came to WRA freshman year, all I was able to think about was how one day I would graduate and then go off to college. Even at freshman orientation, teachers told me to “keep the end in mind.” I was optimistic that I would not be an awkward freshman forever, but rather a confident, straight-teethed, long-haired senior. Now that I am approaching the end of my high school career, the absolute last thing I want to do is keep the END in mind. It is not like I am procrastinating on my college applications or unsure about my success after WRA, but the thought of having to say goodbye to my friends and this campus is absolutely terrifying. The dream I once had of walking across the stage to receive my diploma is a thought I now avoid. I have become so conditioned to living on this campus that anything different will just feel weird. Here at WRA, I have met some of the most incredible, intelligent and creative people, students and teachers alike, and I find myself wanting to stick around. I have to admit, bonds made at WRA are a lot stronger than those made at a day school. This is due to the simple fact that we get to live with our best friends for four years. When I graduate, I am going to leave not only a friend, but also a roommate, late night study buddy, sister, and confidant. I understand that WRA is meant to prepare me for the day that I have to move on to further my education elsewhere, but at this point, I find myself wishing for more time. I cannnot leave just yet! I just started calling Seymour House my home rather than my dorm. But as much as I hate saying goodbye, it is inevitable, and all I can do is enjoy every second of my remaining time here. And I know that I will graduate knowing that I can always turn to WRA and its people for comfort and fond memories.
An unfortunate thing happened to me at the end of the summer before my sophomore year: I broke my finger. It didn’t hurt that much, but it required enough attention that my hand was out of function. The incident occurred at the beginning of the school year, which meant that I would not be able to continue my participation in C-squad golf. A true shame. Due to Western Reserve’s afternoon sports requirement, I had to look elsewhere. A position to manage the girl’s soccer team was available, and I grabbed it to fulfill my requirement. Little did I know how much that decision would influence me.
Alex learned much from managing the soccer team.
Managing a sports team is not the typical trajectory for a WRA student's athletic experience, but it was a particularly useful option, given my then-unwillingness to participate in sports. Taking this path gave me the opportunity to experience what being on a team feels like. The way the girls treated each other showed me how supportive WRA's teams are and taught me not to fear going out for a team. In the subsequent years, I would join the swimming team and lacrosse teams; however, my experience managing the girls soccer team would impact me the most.
Managing gave me the opportunity to became friends with students whom I would have not known otherwise. Outside of practice, I began to push myself to meet new people and expand my friend groups. Managing helped me break out of my shell and really experience and get to know the WRA community, and I have the girsl soccer team to thank.
Now, my last season managing the team is coming to a close. It’s been a truly amazing three years with a wonderful group of girls; I could not have asked for better. WRA gave me an incredibly experience by allowing me to be a part of a team in such a unique way. I owe the team thanks for helping me become me.
Alexander Dean Fellows
on Thursday October 10
WRA never fails to add icing to the cupcakes that are our school lives with all kinds of weekend activities. In the wake of the recent “Capture the Faculty” game, last Sunday offered something different but even more appealing.
A group of WRA faculty and students, including exchange students from Costa Rica, ventured to Cedar Point. As an international student, it was my first time going to the amusement park. Having heard various perspectives of the place, I was half-excited and half-scared to enter the gate with my roommate, Anna.
On Sunday, Sophie took a risk.
I have a fear of heights, so my original plan was to stand under the roller coasters and cheer for my friends. However, Anna “forced” me to get on the Raptor, her favorite ride. As I rode up the creaky, incredible “monster,” I asked myself, “What have I gotten into?” Anna comforted me and told me that I had to start with something big; “Go hard or go home!” she exclaimed. As the Raptor started to fall at an unbelievable speed, I screamed. Even though it was scary, my excitement took over. I felt all the pressure from school work blow away with the wind. After my ride on the Raptor, I found the answer to my question: I had just experienced something new and a lot of fun. I overcame my fear and enjoyed the ride. Starting from something big, I proceeded to ride the Gatekeeper, the Gemini and the Maverick. I did not know that the Maverick has a 95 degree drop when I was waiting in line, and Anna kept insisting that it was only a baby hill. I believed her and went on it without a second thought. I started to panic when I heard a staff member say something about a 95 degree drop. But I had already buckled my seatbelt. It was not as bad as I thought it would be; I appreciate Anna’s white lie because I never would have wanted to do it if I knew about the 95 degree fall. Even though I did not dare to try the Dragster, the world’s second highest roller coaster, I am really proud of myself. I cannot think of a better way to have passed my Sunday.
WRA provides us with so many weekend activities that enhances our school lives. Schoolwork can sometimes be intense, but the weekend provides a welcome respite. Hey, go hard or go home!
Some boarding schools face the challenge of creating opportunities for their students to enjoy themselves on the weekends. Let me tell you, WRA does not have that problem! There are so many different activities to do on the weekends, and they are open to all students, boarding or day. Multiple activities are available each and every weekend. Some of these activities are rare, amazing chances to do things off campus, like going with classmates to a Indians or Cavaliers game on a Friday night, or playing a game called “Capture the Faculty. ” Other activities are recurring favorites, like movie runs, TGIF, and WRA home athletic events. All of these are extremely fun and make the WRA experience that much better.
Weekends at WRA are fun!
One of the most anticipated weekend activities is the Back-to-School Bash, renamed the Back-to-School Blast this year. It is an entire evening of fun, games, food, music, entertainment, and more for all students at WRA. This event take place on the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend each year. This year I had a ton of fun and I can’t wait until next year’s!
Another one of these big events is the Woodhouse Haunted House. As we move into the fall, the Haunted House will become the focus of the boys and housemasters of the Woodhouse dorm. They put on this traditional event for the entire WRA community. This is another event that I look forward to this year!
I believe that WRA puts on great weekend activities. Weekends here are never boring, even for a day student, but especially for the boarders. There is always some event, whether big or small, to satisfy the students of WRA.
Joseph Anthony Mylott
WRA Student Life
on Thursday September 19 at 10:05PM
Every year coming back to school has been a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I’m excited to see all my friends and jump back into my normal routine, but on the other hand, a part of me is longing to never say goodbye to fun summer days and long summer nights. As I think of sunny days spent on the beach dipping my toes in the water and squishing my toes in the sand, it is hard to imagine anything could ever be better, but once again, WRA has proved me wrong. The fun summer days turn to days of class and the long summer nights turn to late nights with my textbooks, but somehow through all this, the allure is never lost.
A bit of a nervous pang in my stomach always hits me as I drive up College Street with my family on move-in day. I look behind me and see the intimidating beauty of the old red brick buildings and feel the expectations weigh down on my shoulders. Just as I am about to duck for cover like a child playing with the idea “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me!” I look ahead of myself and see my memories replay themselves. Spending time with my friends out on the patio, playing on the swing by the Chapel, laughing all through cross country practice, or going to the Taste of Hudson with my friends: there are so many opportunites. While there is no doubt WRA is a place for academics, that’s not what I think about when I think of my school. I think of late nights in the common room laughing for no reason, dorm feeds providing much-needed ice cream, and sipping hot chocolate on those crisp winter days.
Anna and her friends love coming home to WRA.
For most people, summer is synonymous with happy, while school is somewhere down near doing laundry (something I had to learn to do when I came here!), but once I forget this stereotype and have an open mind, I remember that when I’m not here I long to be here. Imagine that! Many of my friends all feel the same way; we spend most of summer so excited to come back! It’s a pretty amazing feeling to have a home I’m so excited to come to. Not even the beach can beat WRA; not even the feeling of diving in the water can beat the feeling of diving into WRA.
Anna Karen Ballard
WRA Student Life
on Friday September 13 at 03:11PM