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Dear University families,

Among my favorite moments this year was the raucous applause that followed every time senior Lindsey Millen announced a meeting of Crafting Club. The weekly celebration of a club designed for students to find calm in their busy schedules and simply connect over knitting or drawing or whatever they wanted to work on became an emblem of what University does best: help students find places to learn, build relationships and support one another. In her speech at our Black Affinity Graduation Celebration, Lindsey remarked, “I was never sure that I’d belong anywhere, and I belong here. And, now I think I can belong wherever I want.” That sense of self and place and empowerment is what I hope every person who comes here feels, and Lindsey’s words continue to resonate with me as we wrap up the year.

The 82 members of the Class of 2024 will attend 42 different colleges and universities in 19 different states and Paris, France. Five recent grads were National Merit Finalists, and seven will be collegiate athletes. Altogether, they were awarded over $17M in merit aid. They were also the first class of students to enter high school in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They helped lead us into new ways of learning together, and I am immensely proud of all they accomplished. You can watch recordings on our YouTube channel of both the Black Affinity Graduation Celebration and Commencement to hear from and celebrate the Class of 2024.

As always, nothing we do would be possible without the exceptional faculty and staff who breathe our school into existence. Thank you to Jana Foster and Jack Paganelli (‘18), both members of our staff who have served the school in multiple capacities, and to bus driver Rob Lloyd, as they transition to new opportunities. Justin Blanding, Jannie Kim, Jamie MacDougall, Wes Priest, and John Walls will step into new roles and responsibilities when we return in the fall, and we will welcome five new members to the University faculty and staff. Kirkland Austin, Leann Gemelas-Wood, and Manuela Pizzi will join our music, social studies, and English departments. Elaine Brenner will shift from parent to employee as our new Communications Coordinator, and University alumnus Cullen Webster (‘08) will be a part of our athletics staff. These changes and hirings are the largest shift in University’s staffing structure in the last decade, and I am excited for you to see how this investment in our overall programming impacts the student experience over the next year. 

And, I am grateful for the entire University community for being a part of this place. Your support, whether it was volunteering at an event, sending in a pie for Pie Day, or being one of the 87% of University families who contributed to this year’s U Fund, matters.

Next year is our 25th Anniversary. We have come a long way from 28 students in four portable classrooms, but the driving force of the school — the directive to expand hearts and minds — remains as relevant and present as it was at our start. University continues to be a place where students learn, connect, explore, and belong. I look forward to honoring our legacy and celebrating our future with you in the months to come. 

With gratitude and best wishes for the summer,

Alicia