Welcome to WRA Voices!
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, Ajay '16, Cristen '16, Kyle '16, Elizabeth '17, Sue '18 and Niraj '16, share their perspectives on anything and everything WRA. Read on!
As WRA students return back to school from holiday break, we begin not only a new marking period, but also a new year.
Personally, when I greet the new year, the first thing I do is to make a New Year’s resolution. It helps me get rid of the regretful feelings of the past year and motivates me to make improvements in the present. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to “stick to resolutions.”
But while I was coming up with my resolution, I suddenly got curious about what goals the members of our WRA community have. So, I asked several people about what their goals are for the year 2016.
Take a look at the resolutions from some students and faculty on campus:
Put real effort in life – Abbey Zhou ’18
Get healthier – History department faculty member Russ Morrison
Do a lot of reading – Matthew Groll ’18
Meeting new people and improving relationships – Peter Campanelli ’18
Spend more time with my friends and family – Logan Snell ’18
Get better grades and keep up with school – Ian Adams ’17
Floss every day – Delaney Fowler ’17
Learn from my roommate Ran Tao, especially in improving my studying skills – Charles Zhou ’18
Start a journal – Anna Anderson ’17
Sleep before one – Alicia Tan ’17
Get at least nine hours of sleep and meet with at least one teacher each week – Briget Rabatin ’17
Try not to get sick and wear tights every day – Brooke Hovan ’17
Stop killing the trees – Erin Redlawsk ’17
Get better grades and be a better person for Mr. Adams-Wall – Sam LaFontaine ’16
Read more – Avery Brewer ’18
Sleep at least eight hours a day – Chloe Beggs ’18
Get taller – Kai Cai ’17
I want to gain weight, about 10-15 pounds – Alec Wilson ’16
Get jacked, eat less and show my New Year’s resolution to A-Wall – Dan Dorman ’16
Have more fun and feed the hungry – Felicity White ’18
Spend more time with my family – Science department faculty member Robert Aguilar
See Yoon (Sue) Lee ’18
It’s that time of year again! Winter exams are approaching and as a senior, I know what to expect, but for those freshmen and new students out there, here is what I carry in my bag to help me through the dreaded exam week.
Gum. I love it, especially wintergreen flavor, and it also helps me focus before a big test or a stressful exam. Orbit is my go-to, but I’ll settle for some Big Red as well. The refreshing scent wakes me up before I dig my head into the paper and fearlessly make my way through the exam.
Word searches. I tend to overthink — a lot — especially before my exams. When going into a big, long test, I have found it helpful to get my mind off of what I am being tested on by doing a quick word search. It may not be a word search for you, it could be journaling, but I have found it helpful to go into the exam with a clear head, and word searches have helped me achieve that.
My empty tumbler. Yeah, you knew it was coming. My tumbler goes EVERYWHERE with me during exam week. Whether it is filled with coffee, chai tea or water, I keep it by my side. Although my main drink during exam week is black coffee, it is important to keep a water bottle on you; coffee is great but staying hydrated is too. So between your espresso shots make sure to throw in a Gatorade or a glass of water, it will help you in the long run!
Healthy snacks. I always carry a granola bar, almonds or a piece of fruit. Healthy eating is important during exam week. Energy is being released at rapid rates as you study for Honors Chem and English, all at the same time, and also try not to lose your mind. A balanced meal or healthy snacks will do much more for you than you can imagine. Remember to take care of yourself during this stressful week, eat well and take little breaks in between studying to spend time with friends or talk to a family member on the phone. At the same time, with good habits and studying all week, don’t be afraid to treat yourself to sweet treat like a Twix or Nut Goodie (my favorite) or whatever makes your taste buds do a little jingle.
Running shoes. Stress can take hold of us before we even know it. To release some endorphins, I make sure to run or workout during exam week. With sports requirements, most of us are getting daily exercise in, but it is important that all of us are doing something during exam week that releases stress. If working out is not for you, make sure to take a study break and do something you love to get your mind off of Math and Spanish for a couple hours.
My lucky ring. Not exactly “in my bag” but I wear this ring every day. Passed down to me by my mother, without it I feel lost and it has provided me with some good luck over the last couple of years. Catch me during exam week, or any ordinary day, and I’ll be wearing my lucky ring.
There’s my list — all sorted out for you! Exams are important, but remember this: It is just a test, and if you don’t feel you did your best on it, don’t freak out and know that everything will be okay. Keep what you need on hand — be it gum, water or whatever you find essential — study hard and stay strong through these upcoming weeks, winter break will be here before you know it! Best of luck folks.
Cristen Barnett '16
One unique aspect of life at WRA is the three sport/activity requirement. Whether you are a freshman playing three sports or an upperclassman participating in three seasons of biology research, it can sometimes be a struggle to fulfill the three sport/activity requirement as there are not always options available for each season that spark one’s interests.
This fall, I found myself in one of these predicaments — I did not know what activity to do! I considered playing soccer, but I figured I would step outside my comfort zone and play golf. All my life, I have casually played golf during the summer, but I never devoted myself to the craft and, frankly, never found much success. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed getting out on the greens and trying my best.
Yet, the thought of playing golf at WRA never crossed my mind until about two weeks before the start of the school year, and I was anxious about how I would fit on the team. Yet, to my surprise, playing golf at WRA has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my tenure in high school. Over the course of the season, I’ve garnered a deep passion for the game and find myself constantly thinking about all aspects of golf — on and off the greens. More importantly, I was able to go out every day and hit the sticks with a great group of guys. I was able to build relationships with new friends that I would not have if I didn’t play.
This proves to show how Western Reserve Academy is such a great place to push your boundaries. The great thing about Reserve is that there are so many opportunities — whether they be in the field of academia or athletics — that we sometimes take them for granted and overlook them and the potential benefits that they can offer. After this experience, I urge students at WRA to embrace all opportunities set before them and not discard them as obligations until you have actually tried them out — you won’t regret it!
Kyle Buseck ’16
A letter to myself, four years ago
|Friends gather for a group photo.|
Dear freshman Ajay,
Welcome to life at WRA. As a boarder for four years, I can attest that the decision of choosing whether or not to be a boarding student carries much importance. At the ripe, tender age of 14 — sometimes even 13 years old — kids are thrust into a life of their own. When you’re living in the dorms, there are no parents to instruct and watch over you, no personal bedrooms, and you must adjust to a completely different lifestyle.
I remember stepping onto Western Reserve Academy’s campus as a wide-eyed freshman, anxious for what was to come. I came to this school as alone as a lone soldier, not knowing anyone and filled with fear. As an involved student at my middle school, I was nervous to leave and start at the bottom of the totem pole as a freshman. However, over time, I perfectly assimilated with the boarding lifestyle, recognizing its great aspects, and so will you.
Boarders have the great luxury of independence, the ability to develop close bonds with friends and teachers, and the wonderful opportunity to receive delicious dorm feeds. Honestly, I think it was great that I arrived at WRA with no pre-existing friendships as it allowed me to branch out. Since I did not know anyone, I did not have to hold on to my previous self, and it felt as if I had a clean slate. Deciding to become a boarder was definitely a risk, but, now, this risk has had the biggest payoffs.
WRA boarding will help you mature. You will have to learn how to take care of yourself, wake up on your own and manage your responsibilities. This process can prove difficult and stressful but experiencing it in a high school setting with a tight-knit community makes the transition much easier. Boarding has taught me how to manage rumors and stress. Since we are among a relatively small community on campus, it is easy to succumb to outside influences, but it is important to maintain your character and not let others define you. Above all, the relationships you develop with your roommates are priceless. I have roomed with Jae Hoon Lee ’16 and Niraj Naik ’16 in my time at WRA, and our shared experiences as roommates have created memories that will last forever. Boarding at WRA offers a small community and haven to experience everything in a safe place.
As a current senior, I realize that I will have to start this whole process again once I get to college. Even though this appears daunting, I am confident that I can utilize the skills I gained at WRA. I have to remind myself that the vulnerability you’re experiencing right now was a good thing. It is always worrisome to endeavor down a new path, but remember that sometimes it is important to take risks. They will eventually pay off.
Ajay Dakappagari '16
WRA Voices Staff Writer
Over the past two months I’ve been preparing for the spring play, Time of Your Life. Written by William Saroyan, the play follows multiple stories that all take place in the same bar in San Francisco. I’ve spent many nights in the auditorium rehearsing and memorizing lines and it all came to fruition this past weekend. With the help of our director, Mrs. Ong, and our set designer, Mr. Peveich, we had the amazing opportunity to perform in front of our peers. My friends and I are really lucky because we get to let loose for a couple hours every night on stage. It’s a great way to hang out with your friends.
With such a time commitment, it can get quite hectic with school and homework, but teachers are very understanding and will often be flexible with deadlines. For example, my chemistry teacher was more than willing to help me prepare for my upcoming chemistry test, although I was taking it later than most other students.
On opening night, I couldn’t wait for my friends and teachers to see the performance. We had worked so much every night for the play to be amazing. Once I got out on stage, I felt electrified. The theater was packed with all of my friends, who had come out to support us. Once we made our final bow, it made all of the work that we had done worth it. There was such a sense of satisfaction in the air backstage. I can’t wait to try out for a play next year. It’s one of the most valuable experiences at WRA.
|Anna & her grandma visiting on Grandparents Day!|
I clearly remember my first “last” at Reserve. Near the end of my junior year I had to attend student body president elections, something the seniors do not attend since they will not be there for the following year. Other things trickled along like my last sports physical, my last time returning to Reserve in the fall, and my last preseason, but frankly I was more excited than sad and it certainly didn’t feel real. Now it feels real.
Nearly everything I do feels like a last as I finish up my senior year. This weekend will be the last WRA play I ever see, in two more weekends it will be the last WRA dance show I am ever a part of, and in a few short weeks it will be my last prom. And even the things that still persist are very few. Only a few more times to sing the Alma Mater, to attend Morning Meeting, to wear my kilt, to wake up in Cartwright with my roommate Sophie. Everything is quickly coming to an end and in a way it is very sad and hard to fully take in. However, I’m incredibly grateful for this moment because it allows me to see all the things that are unique to Reserve, all the things I will have to sadly say goodbye to in a few short weeks.
As easy as it is to complain about school, the good truly outweighs the bad. Sometimes it’s oh so hard to see the benefits of this school when you’re so tired and feel so overwhelmed, but the benefits are all around us. The benefits are the smile of a friend as you get ready to sleep, the support of a sit-down table, the excitement of ringing the victory bell and all of these things quickly dissolve after graduation. Now, I’m not going to lie, I am excited to graduate and I am excited to move on to college, but now I am more able to see how incredibly thankful I am for this opportunity. I know my high school experience wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else, but even more importantly, I know I wouldn’t be the same person right now. So seniors, take in every “last” and savor the moment as you reflect on all the wonderful memories associated with that action. As for everyone else, try not to get caught up in the monotony of school, take every annoying required event and try to see it as an opportunity and a tradition with limited times remaining. It’s hard to say goodbye to what has become normal, but very soon we must. So try your hardest to really take in every “last” and appreciate all the things that we usually take for granted.
This past weekend, the Morgan Leaders ventured far past Reserve’s campus and found ourselves smack-dab in the heart of Ohio, Columbus. The eight of us had the wonderful chance to meet with former Reserve students and hear all about their careers. With completely different jobs, each alumni had an exciting perspective on life after college.
Jennifer Peterson, Class of ‘84, explained how going to college campuses and talking to students helped her develop the clothing line PINK, Victoria’s Secret’s little sister. William ‘Bill’ Emery, Class of ‘76, elaborated on his donut truck raids while at Reserve and that even at his age he still has no idea what he wants to do but more of what he does not want to do. Gavrilo Gnatovich, Class of ‘75, introduced us to the world of cartoons and that even adults can create an imaginary world.
Whether it be Class of ‘84 or ‘75, cartoonist or private equity investor they all detailed the importance of their Reserve experience. As seniors, this trip showed us the big bad world of business really isn’t too scary. The valuable and very different tips and tactics that each alumni introduced will surely help in any field we pursue.
What I will personally take away from this weekend getaway is the fact that Reserve is still a huge part of these people’s lives. Far past their graduation days, they still hold their WRA stories and Senior Putz close at heart as well as the friends they made within the brick casing of WRA. Even after continuing their academic career on to impressive colleges, they all attributed part of their success to Reserve. Whether it be the roommate they had, the teachers they encountered, or the passions they discovered; Reserve left a lasting impression.
With my own graduation day right around the corner, it came as a relief knowing that these last few weeks are not leading to a sad and abrupt ending, but toward a new beginning as a Reserve alumni.
Each year the WRA boys lacrosse team takes a week or so out of spring break to make time for a lacrosse trip. In years past the lacrosse team has gone to Florida for a week of training and scrimmages. This year, however, things were a little different. Instead of going to the sunny beaches of Florida, the lacrosse team voyaged down to Philadelphia and Baltimore for two regulation games as well as practices and, of course, some fun team-building activities.
Before traveling south, we convened in Hudson for two days of intense training. After six practices in 48 hours, on the third day we loaded up the bus at 6 a.m. Our trip started with a drive to Philly to play the Hill School. After a hard fought battle, we unfortunately could not pull out a ‘W’ against a talented Hill School as we lost 5-1. Nonetheless, with our first game behind us we felt confident as we began preparing for our next game against St. Andrew’s Episcopal School out of Rockville, MD. Before we played St. Andrew’s we made an afternoon pit stop to visit the University of Maryland. We met with WRA alumnus Kyle Bernlohr, a 2011 graduate. He is the starting goalie at Maryland and is recognized as one of the best players in the country this year. After we watched a UMD practice, Kyle was able to give us a tour of the lacrosse facilities. He talked to us about how important his experiences at WRA were and gave us some overall life advice. The next day we had two practices to prep for our big game against St. Andrews. After an all around great game by the boys, we were able to get the win against St. Andrews 8-2. After our win, we drove to Johns Hopkins University to watch the Blue Jays take down Rutgers University. Being able to watch a game at Hopkins’ Homewood Field, one of the most historic lacrosse venues in the country, was incredible and one of the many highlights of the trip. That night, the last night of the trip we went to Joe’s Crab Shack and pounded over 50 lbs. of seafood as a team, a wonderful end to a memorable trip.
The annual WRA lacrosse trip is a great example of the many athletic opportunities available at WRA. There are not many other schools that offer an athletic opportunity like this. Although we came out of the trip with a 1-1 record, the journey provided us not only the chance to advance our skills as a lacrosse team in preparation for our MSLCA league games, but, also, this year’s lacrosse trip succeeded in one of the primary goals of these annual events — helping to build team chemistry and lasting memories for all of this year’s WRA boys lacrosse players.
Although schedules depend on what classes you take and what activities you are involved in, I hope to help prospective students understand how a regular school day works:
First period and second period (8:20-10:05): Two 50 minute classes. Although I am somewhat predisposed to enjoy Monday morning because of my sleep in (first period off), I enjoy the Monday schedule because you have a break between every two classes. Second period is A.P. physics, enough said.
Morning Meeting (10:10-10:40): An enjoyable blend of This I Believe speeches, the alma mater, a few sports announcements and general “housekeeping” announcements. However, Morning Meeting is a nice way to break up the morning and bring the community together over a funny video announcing prom or an announcement by the theatric Mr. Ong recounting the struggles of few students brave enough to take on A.P. U.S. history or A.P. econ.
Third and fourth period (10:45-12:30): Two 50 minute classes, creative writing followed by English. As a senior, all of the English classes are scheduled for the same period because you have the opportunity to switch teachers during the second semester because they are semester-based classes. Both classes stretch my mind creatively, so it is a nice break after physics.
Lunch (12:30-1): Although Mondays have shorter lunches than the hour-long lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is a great opportunity to see friends who aren’t in your classes, and the dining hall has great options for all students.
Fifth and Sixth Period (1:15-3:00): The last two classes of the day. I have A.P. calculus followed by dance class. There is nothing I love more than ending the day with dance class! As a dancer, I love that I can take art classes during the day (they are actually required for any incoming freshman).
Sports practice! (4 -6): Reserve has many options for all seasons. This year I played volleyball in the fall and I swam in the winter. I currently dance after school. It is great to get to see people outside of your grade. It really opens up the community, and you meet so many people!
Sit-down dinner (6:30-7:15): Students sit with their friends and the teacher of their choosing for a family-style dinner twice a week (Monday and Thursday). Although day students are not required to attend as boarders are, sit-down dinners allow students the opportunity to see teachers outside of class and get to know each other on a more personal level as in a mentorship.
Study hours at the library or in the dorms (7:30-9:30): Time to do homework! I usually stay a couple of nights a week to see my friends or if I need to work on a project.
Go to sleep after completing my homework usually around eleven or (on a bad night) midnight.
Then the next morning, you start over. Although this schedule seems daunting at first, it becomes extremely natural. Even though students at Reserve work hard, I find comfort in getting the chance to see my friends; that is what makes the Reserve community so strong.
Choose groups to clone to: