June 18, 2021
Dear University families,
Just over fifteen months ago, our world turned on its head. And now, as the weather has warmed and vaccines have allowed much of the world to reopen, summer has once again brought a brightness back to our lives. It has been a difficult year in many ways, but it has also been one in which University’s heart — that indefatigable driver of everything we do — propelled us to find new ways of connecting, new ways of learning, and new ways to grow.
In his December 2020 New York Times op-ed, Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Jal Mehta wrote that one of the lessons schools all over the country struggled to learn this year was “the necessity to make schools more human.” He goes on to say schools must make an effort to authentically connect with their students, to make schedules human-centered instead of efficiency-driven, and to think about young people “in a fuller and more holistic way.” While there were many lessons we learned this year, this work of the heart has been at our core since University’s founding. The successes we had this year came to fruition because of our investment in being human. To the Board of Trustees, thank you for your vision to put the heart as well as the mind at the center of learning and for your continual guidance in seeing that mission through.
Seven faculty and staff members joined us during these pandemic years. Like our rising juniors, Melissa Burke, Allyson Horton, Jamie MacDougall, and Franklin Oliver have yet to complete a full year of in-person learning at University. Andra Edgell became the first person in school history to be hired via Zoom, and David Schlenk began his time in the advancement office mostly online as well. Incoming photography teacher Alyssa Wei guest taught to a hybrid class that was half in the room and half on Zoom. None of them have had ‘normal’ starts to their University careers, but we are a better school with them here.
And of course, nothing would be possible without the dedication, compassion, thoughtfulness, scholarship, and pure goodwill of the entire 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 the faculty and staff, thank you. For everything.
In early June, we said a formal goodbye to the Class of 2021. At 94 graduates, this was our largest class to date. And they made their sizable presence known. They started clubs, led athletic teams, drove initiatives on the Stewardship Council, redesigned community meeting, and took the management of the culture of this place into their own hands and hearts. They were also accepted to 174 different colleges and universities, including early admits to Stanford, Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Virginia. All told, over four years, the Class of 2021 was awarded $18.5M in merit scholarships for college. Congratulations to all of our new alumni! It was an honor to go to school with you.
As of today, we will welcome 82 freshmen in the fall, and we will likely have a total student body of 330. And, the Class of 2039 got three early inquiries this spring as we welcomed Faris “Ford” MacAllister Kaboub, Sylvia “Sylvie” James Mann, and Lilah Joy Knox to our community. While many independent schools struggled with enrollment through the pandemic, University has thrived. We are known throughout the Indianapolis area as a place where students are seen and heard and valued as stakeholders in their education, and our reputation for student success is unparalleled.
Thank you for being part of University High School this year. From supporting the school at virtual events, to cheering on our students in games, concerts, and plays, to giving more than $98,000 in eleven days during our “Thank You, Teachers” campaign, you helped us navigate this year with a sense of togetherness, appreciation, and joy. If you have not yet participated in this year’s U Fund, please consider a gift by June 30. We are just seven families away from our goal of 80% family participation.
Enjoy the beauty and rest that summer brings. I look forward to our Campus Grand Reopening Celebration on August 15, 2021 from 4-6 p.m. More details will come this summer. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.
Alicia M. LaMagdeleine (she/her/hers)
Head of School
University High School of Indiana
317-733-4475, ext. 132