On Friday, May 18, the WRA community gathered in the Chapel for a spirited end-of-year celebration of academic excellence. The annual Academic Awards, held in the fall and the spring, recognize achievements in academics, service and spirit and celebrate Reserve's values of excellence, integrity and compassion.
Wanda Boesch, Science Department Chair, gave opening remarks, sharing Nelson Mandela's quote: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world...I know you will continue to make us proud beyond the walls of Western Reserve Academy."
Before individual awards were announced, Boesch addressed the entire community of students saying, "I want you all to know that there is a special award for every single one of you in this room. The most important award that you can receive is your own realization and acknowledgment of how special and important you are not only to the WRA community, but to everyone that you have encountered and will continue to meet in the future."
As the awards were revealed, the lasting impact of our alumni shone through in honors bearing in their names. College Book Prizes came in the name of the country's finest schools, such as Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Smith and Yale. Excellence in science, leadership, writing, drama and music also was recognized.
Stirring support for our faculty swept the Chapel as teachers received honors such as the Joel B. Hayden Award and new faculty chairs, enabled by generous alumni. Students cheered for their teachers with genuine enthusiasm and appreciation.
Associate Head of School Kate Mueller described upcoming summer professional development for WRA faculty, from advanced study at Temple University to biochemistry at Cleveland State University to global travel in Italy, France and Spain and service travel to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The school's enduring commitment to professional development affords faculty summers full of new learnings that come back to the classroom, enriching the student experience.
While the ceremony included many highlights, perhaps the most applause befell beloved Mathematics Faculty Elizabeth Wirtz, leaving Reserve after 32 years. Wirtz, parent to three Reserve alumni and a former Math Department Chair, Dean of Student Life and Senior Class Dean, enlivened WRA in endless ways, from serving as the piano accompanist for our school musicals and choir performances to leading as an example of kindness in our community.
A standing ovation honored our dining hall team from Flik, whose nourishment comes from food and the sense of family they bring to the dining hall. In addition to preparing meals heralded by Cleveland food critics as "absolutely restaurant worthy, brimming with local ingredients," the dining hall team knows students personally, from their food preferences to allergies to their hometowns.
The ceremony also included lovely musical interludes, the traditional Moving Up ceremony where younger classes ascend to more esteemed seating in the Chapel pews, singing of the alma mater, closing remarks by Head of School Chris Burner '80, and an address by the new senior class presidents.
In the end, the Academic Awards reflected on a year of accomplishments, but also foretold the brightest future, where traditions will mix with innovation and evolution, as is always the way at Reserve.