It was touch and go for a while, but despite the ominous forecasts, the weather cooperated and the Class of 2017's final day at Western Reserve Academy was a truly beautiful one.
On Sunday, May 28, the Akron and District Pipe Band steered the 114 graduates from the Class of 2017 and WRA faculty forward, leading the way with the bright, ceremonial music as they processed from the John D. Ong Library to the front of the Chapel. After a warm welcome from Head of School Christopher D. Burner '80, student speaker Daniel Mylott addressed his classmates, faculty, staff and all those attending the ceremony.
His speech was full of affection for the school, particularly for those peers, faculty and WRA community members who made his time so memorable, and to whom he expressed sincere gratitude.
"As long as we can remember this place, we can remember the people, the relationships, the friendships we made while here," said Mylott.
This year's featured speaker was Jude Kearney '76, an attorney at the law firm Greenberg Traurig in Washington, D.C., as well as the Chair of the firm's Africa practice. He returned to campus to deliver a message filled with well wishes and words of wisdom for the departing class.
"We have joined together here today to thank you, to congratulate you and, for many of us who have graduated here, to tell you that we love you as if you were our own," he said.
He spoke of his time at Reserve with the highest regard, holding it even closer to his heart than his also cherished time at Harvard and Stanford Law School.
"The impact that Western Reserve Academy had on me was never had again," said Kearney. "This school is unique. It's magical. It provides a community. It provides a curriculum. It provides caring administration and teachers like no other school in the world."
After receiving their diplomas, students, as well as faculty and alumni in attendance, crossed the lawn's wide sweep to gather around the flagpole and sing the alma mater, Old Reserve.
The achievements of the Class of 2017 are numerous and varied, showcasing the breadth of their talents and extraordinary abilities.
Twelve members of the senior class were National Merit Scholars, with four students commended and eight ranked as National Merit Scholar Finalists. Their ACT and SAT scores averaged 29 and 1360, respectively. More than 20 graduates will continue to play sports at the college level; seven of these students will move onto Division I athletics. One-hundred percent of the 114 graduates will matriculate to four-year colleges, moving on to pursue bright futures at exceptional academic institutions, such as Cornell University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and more.
As they are setting off for new horizons, Western Reserve Academy joins them on a journey of its own. As the newest alumni members prepare for a life on their college campuses, Reserve looks forward to its first school year with a fully independent curriculum. True to its pioneering spirit, the school is the first in the region to move beyond Advanced Placement courses, embracing a curriculum that includes College Level courses, a new daily schedule with fewer transitions and more opportunities for collaboration and exploration. There will also be required Literacies including "Learning to Code" and "Learning to Make" for all freshmen, in the school's new 6,000-square-foot makerspace, The Center for Technology, Innovation & Creativity. With the school's main academic building, Seymour Hall, being renovated this year, Reserve embarks on a truly groundbreaking year, from the bricks all the way up to the classroom.
These are changes made with extraordinary students like the 2017 graduates in mind — this new curriculum and schedule will ultimately allow students to further explore their curiosities, pursue their passions and flourish.
We couldn't be prouder of such an outstanding group of students. The Class of 2017 will always be Pioneers, and we wish them all the best as they set off on the next chapter of their journeys.
We interviewed seven graduates from the Class of 2017 to learn more about their time at Reserve and the next chapter of their academic journey. Watch the #ForeverPioneers series.