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Dear University families,

This year, we experienced the wonders of a world re-envisioning itself. On a national and global scale, destinations and opportunities opened back up after several months of closure and restrictions. Here at University, we started the year all together. Fall sports seasons returned. Community Meeting was back in Andrews Hall, as were music and theater performances. January Term was in January again. The RoboBlazers competed live for the first time in three years, and those seniors, who founded the team as freshmen, led the group to our first-ever Robotics state championship. It was a year to be celebrated!

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 Patty Bittinger-Mansfield and Kristin Chun, who are leaving for other opportunities, thank you for your service to our school. And to the entire faculty and staff, thank you for more things than I can mention, and for more acts on behalf of students than anyone will ever know.

Three new additions will join this remarkable team of adults when we return in August. Whitney Matter will join our college counseling team as Assistant Director of College Counseling. Whitney has a background in both college and high school admission, and she will work closely with Director of College Counseling Maddy MacAllister, who has decided to remain in her full-time role. Dr. Matthew Aschaffenburg will join our science department – teaching Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science next year, as well as rivaling me in the competition for the hardest last name to pronounce. Matt has a background in marine biology and environmental science, and he has been teaching high school science for the past five years. Ashley and Nila will add a Communications & Events Coordinator to their office to provide more support and capacity – and to add a fresh voice to our social media. We expect to announce this addition in July. Finally, welcome to our newest group of future Trailblazers – Eliza Hogan, Posey Johnson, Maddox Spiegel, and Bradley “Bear” Williams! 

In early June, we returned to the Palladium to celebrate the Class of 2022. It was a beautiful ceremony, with heartfelt speeches by seniors Aisha Kokan, Rachael Major, and Gabe Mervis, as well as the class-selected keynote speech by Jamie MacDougall. If you weren’t able to make it, you can watch these speeches on University’s YouTube channel. I highly recommend them. The 86 members of the Class of 2022 were accepted to 181 different colleges and universities, including early admits to Columbia University, Stanford, Wake Forest, and Oberlin. Thirteen alumni will head to Purdue, and four will attend HBCUs. All told, over four years, the Class of 2022 was awarded $21.7M in merit scholarships for college – the largest amount ever awarded at University. Congratulations to all of our new alumni! It was an honor to go to school with you.

As of today, we will welcome 90 freshmen in the fall, and we will likely have a total student enrollment of 350. When I started at University in the fall of 2004, the school had 148 students. Just five years ago, in the fall of 2017, we had 300 students. The growth we have seen throughout these last few years is testament to what we do here. We are a place where learning together matters. Where students are taken seriously. Where relationships form the foundation of our work. Where young people get ready to make more meaning in their lives. The power of University is palpable. People recognize it and seek it out. I could not be more proud of the school we have become. 

Thank you for being part of University High School this year. From supporting the school at events, to cheering on our students in games, concerts, and plays, to reading World of Wonders, each of you has been part of our journey this year. Thank you also for your support of the U Fund. We have surpassed our $300,000 goal with 86% parent and family participation! It is wonderful to be involved in this work with you. Please save the date for our Trailblazer Awards Gala on November 12, 2022 at Newfields. There, and throughout the year to come, we will continue to celebrate all University has accomplished together. 

Enjoy the beauty and rest that summer brings. This year’s summer readingThe Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green – is funny, enlightening, available as a podcast, and really, really good. I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to our Welcome Back to School Celebration on Sunday, August 14, 2022 from 4-6 p.m. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.