The Compass program at Western Reserve Academy provides a platform for students to tackle various challenges and explore unique passions. Compass Speaks 2024, an event designed to share progress with community members, did not disappoint. Based upon the confidence demonstrated on the evenings of March 6 and 7, one would never guess these experts are high school students, some speaking English as their second language. From menstruation education to uniting humans across language barriers, the 2023-2024 Compass program ushered future leaders and ideators to the stage. 

Western Reserve Academy is proud to call these innovators our own, knowing full well this is not the last we will see of their projects and endless solutions not yet dreamed up.

Check out the highlights and slideshow below!

Christian T. '24 connected with the audience over his project Ate, devoted to providing free resources for the migrant labor force throughout Hong Kong. Ate is dedicated to Yaya Lourdes, the Tan family’s own beloved ate (which means “elder sister” in Filipino, a term of endearment for one who takes care and looks out for others). 

Cavin X. '24 presented BioBlab, a digital solution to spread awareness about the many scientific endeavors of WRA students. Cavin touted the benefits of sharing these accolades for both our internal community curious about class offerings, families following the WRA adventure and future students!

Aparajita S. '25, a lover of astronomy, brought us up close and personal with an often unheard of resource on the WRA campus (unlike the historic Moos Observatory) – an observatory situated near the tennis courts! Aparajita dedicated time to cleaning up the space, which hasn’t been consistently used for years, and with the support of Science faculty member Ignacio de Echevarria, connected with a professional to get our telescope back in working order. We can’t wait to stargaze and learn alongside this growing program!

Celine O. '24 introduced herself in her native language and grounded the audience in an often overlooked challenge many students at WRA face on a daily basis – a language and cultural barrier. Sometimes the simplest demonstration can be the most powerful, especially to individuals in the majority. Celine is committed to developing connective resources, building bridges of understanding.

Riya H. '25 tackled the lack of women in STEM by developing a free coding class to middle school girls and actually launched the program! Beyond that she reflected, tweaked, advertised, and developed a virtual companion for girls in India and won awards that she invested right back into her project. Bravo!

Junning (David) H. '24 and Hao Cheng (Bob) W. '24 humored the audience with their take on the annoyance associated with dragging a load of laundry to a machine only to find all occupied. The team developed a system (already implemented in North!) to indicate which machines are running and which are vacant. A “simple” solution that has residents raving! Future plans involve a wait list and triggered text message eliminating the back and forth so these teenagers can go back to being their most efficient selves.

Anya M. '24 took the stage as confident as she has during Morning Meeting this past month. To begin her presentation, she asked audience members to open the envelope they were given upon entering the auditorium. We had all just gotten our periods. Anya explained that some of us had the resources to manage our monthly cycle, but many were lacking. This hard-hitting demonstration proved the value of providing education on the traditionally taboo topic of menstruation. And, she’s a published author. Blood Ties: Real Menstruation Stories, is available for purchase on Amazon, and all proceeds help prevent period poverty.

Cece C. '24 shared her love of the environment and commitment to positive change one Reserve student at a time. Through education and advocacy, she hopes to draw attention to recycling habits that really do make a difference, especially when it comes to proper separation and preparation. A good reminder that even small changes make an impact.

Yihan (Mariana) M. '24 spoke on a topic not necessarily as familiar with American audience members – the exploration of nutrition via solar terms (the 24 distinct periods in the lunar calendar). Mariana explained that there are great nutritional benefits to consuming a diet reflective of the seasons, and this is a large part of Chinese culture. Because of her work, WRA students will have access to materials and ingredients in the dining hall that embrace this practice, nurturing both the bodies and cultural bonds of WRA.

Fernando B. '24 got the audience chuckling with his incriminating presentation (each and every individual saw themselves on screen addicted to their devices), creative (and fun!) solution to an overwhelmingly familiar problem. How do we tackle digital addiction? Fernando’s app (at least he’ll get you off social media!) utilizes interesting facts, visual aids and challenges to encourage mindfulness regarding screen time. If the app is anything like Fernando’s humorous presentation, it will be a great success!

Arlette C. '24 Recognizing the unique challenges faced by first-generation students, Arlette shared her commitment building communities and safe spaces both online and in person. Arlette’s website is designed to collect sources such as available scholarships, alumni advice and stories of other first-gen students, and her in-person events are designed for connection. Students charting new territory in their educational journey should never feel alone.

Carter F. '24 and Donald H. '24 researched, developed and prototyped an actual device that uses machine learning to properly evaluate recyclable versus non-recyclable items. Using almost all recycled materials from the WIC, Carter and Donald successfully programmed their Smart Bin to scan based upon local recycling rules and tip the item into the proper receptacle after processing. Next steps are reducing the processing time and scaling the prototype! The best part is that learning goes both ways. The more humans who use the machine, the more they will learn how to properly recycle!

Click to view the March 6 and March 7 recording!

Compass spans civic and global engagement, science and technology, arts and culture, and entrepreneurship and empowers students to identify problems and offer solutions, while cultivating unique interests and talents. Participants develop skills in project design, collaboration, budgeting and leadership, applying personal passion to professional context. Our community looks forward to the culminating event – the Compass Expo – on Thursday, May 2, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., in the Murdough Athletic Center Multipurpose Room.