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Dear University families,

Four years ago, the Class of 2023 started what they thought would be a relatively ‘normal’ high school experience. Then COVID dropped a crater in the middle of their educational landscape. At the beginning of this month, we wrapped up a joyous but fast-paced spring by celebrating them at commencement. There were tears and smiles, student speeches on being a big sibling, finding the piece of your puzzle, and being ready to take risks, by seniors Mena Morcos, Audrey Priest, and Steven Scott, as well as the class-selected keynote speech by Nancy Webster. Nancy remarked that the Class of 2023 taught us much. And, indeed they did, with great success. They simply would not let a pandemic stop them. Our 80 most recent alumni sent out 582 applications to 222 colleges. They were accepted to IU, Missouri, NYU, Howard, UCLA, Kenyon, Brandeis, Northeastern. Ten of them will be college athletes. One graduate was admitted to one BS/DO and three BS/MD direct-admit programs. The Class of 2023 was awarded over $14.2M in merit aid. Congratulations to all our graduates!

We will miss our seniors, but the wonderful thing about being a school is that after every set of goodbyes comes another set of hellos. Ninety-nine new Traiblazers are set to join us in August. Some of them are already here at summer classes and open gyms, and we can’t wait to see all the joys and possibilities within them.

And of course, nothing this year would have been possible without the dedication, compassion, thoughtfulness, scholarship, and pure goodwill of the University faculty and staff. There are no words capable of expressing how thankful I am to work at a place full of adults so committed to their students and to each other. To Jake Hon (’18), Jake Sipes-Salter, and Kellie Stewart, all of whom are moving on to new experiences, thank you for serving our school. To Maddy MacAllister (’05), who will be transitioning to a part-time Testing Coordinator position, thank you for making college counseling a human and central part of University. And, to Nancy Webster, who is retiring after 23 years as University’s founding Director of Admission, thank you for building this place, student by student, into the life-changing community it is today. 

Three new additions will join this remarkable team of adults when we return in August. Erica Gray will join our faculty as a full time English Teacher, Rachon Lucio will join Nila Nealy in our communications department, and Tim See will join Whitney Matter in college counseling. All of them bring a wealth of experience to University. Additionally, University alumnus, Jack Paganelli (’18), will return in the fall in a new role as our literal ‘jack-of-all-trades,’ serving in a substitute and staff support role. And Ellyn Walerstein and Praseeda Govindadas are hiring an additional support person in Learning Support Services. We expect to announce this addition in early August. Finally, welcome to our newest future Trailblazer, Danielle Caraher, daughter of Spanish teacher Melissa Caraher (’10) her husband Patrick (’10). 

As graduating senior Mena Morcos put it, “Community is a force that will always be there for you through celebrations and troubles. In a world that is so divided on so many issues, we need community now more than ever.”

Thank you for being a part of our community. Thank you for your generosity, for cheering at games, for helping each other, for exceeding our U Fund goal with over 85% of families participating. You help make University a place where students are valued, where joy is apparent, and where relationships drive learning. And that is a wonderful thing.

Get some rest in the next weeks. Be sure to check our summer reading – Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. If you are off to college, good luck on a new adventure, and if you are returning in the fall, I can’t wait to see you at our Welcome Back Celebration on Sunday, August 13, 2023 from 4 to 6 p.m.

With gratitude, and best wishes for the summer,

Alicia LaMagdeleine
Head of School