Ranney School’s 63-member Class of 2020 celebrated its commencement on the campus of Ranney School on Saturday, July 11. Twenty of the seniors, known as “Ranney Lifers,” had attended the school for 10 or more years. Next fall, the group will head off to attend some of the most prestigious colleges and universities across the country, including Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern University, and University of Notre Dame. For a complete list of colleges, visit ranneyschool.org.
The Class of 2020 demonstrates one of the important qualities that Ranney stresses: resilience. As all seniors were faced with uncharted global issues this year, the Ranney seniors rose to the occasion and led the Panthers with determination and perseverance. The Class of 2020 was the first class to take AP exams at home, the first to produce their year-long Capstone research projects via live, interactive YouTube presentations, and the first to have a socially distanced graduation on Ranney’s Campus in Tinton Falls. Ranney Student Council President Derek Vastola of Colts Neck, NJ (Harvard University) began a weekly Ranney News Network Show called Quarantine Weekly that showed off what members of the campus were doing in their time away from school, raising the spirits of the community while bonding the members from afar.
Ranney students are encouraged to discover and engage all of their unique talents and interests through robust student life programs and a nurturing learning community. The class represents a diverse group with talents that showcase a wide range of passions. There were 40 seniors who were National Honor Society members, and 13 seniors inducted into Cum Laude Society. Members of the Class of 2020 reached the National Tournament for both the History Bowl and the Academic Quiz Bowl for four years in a row. The Class of 2020 had representation at All-Shore and All-State Performing Arts Ensembles: Sam Novotny of Freehold, NJ (New York University, Steinhardt) in the All-Shore Jazz Band; and Haocheng Bai of Freehold, NJ (New York University) in the All-Shore Honors Chorus and All-State Mixed Chorus. Emily Chang of Holmdel, NJ (University of Pennsylvania) was awarded the U.S. Figure Skating Gold Level Graduating Seniors Award. Autumn Siliato of Wall, NJ (University of South Carolina) was featured on Fox Business News for creating a philanthropic equestrian clothing line.
In her commencement speech, Valedictorian Qinyuan Xue said, “Here at Ranney, we received a great education that prepared us to overcome these challenges. All of us, my fellow graduates, are here because we have tried our best and overcome the fear. We couldn't have done this without the help of all the teachers, and our families. We find that once we begin, it is not so horrifying as we had thought. So there is no need to worry when we leave here today. Yes, the future is unclear, and we are going for a college career that will be much different from our high school life. I know we can move on and take on whatever challenges come next in our lives. And we won’t forget that our friends and family will always be by our side.”
“As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'" Qinyuan, known as Sophia to her classmates, is an International Student who lived with a host family in Freehold. She will be attending the University of California, Berkeley in the fall. At the 2020 Honors Convocation, Qinyuan received the Science Department Award. She was also inducted into the Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Society, Science National Honor Society, Qinyuan presented her Senior Capstone Presentation on The Effects of Material Types on Comforter Performance.
Added Salutatorian Seth Marx of Marlboro (Vanderbilt University), “As we all take the next big step of life and move into the real world, I am certain the lessons Ranney has taught us, in and out of the classroom, will be able to take us far in an uncertain future. The lessons we learned from each other, however, will take us even farther, and I’m glad to have completed my high school education with all of you.” At the 2020 Honors Convocation, Seth received the Computer Science award. At graduation, he was honored with the Faculty Prize. He is a member of the Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, National History Scholars Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, Science National Honor Society.
Dr. John Griffith, Head of Ranney School, met the unique experience of a socially distanced tented graduation on the lawn of Ranney School in mid-July with these words, “To you seniors: I have taught a number of you over the years, enjoyed you in and out of class, and watched you grow up in the past four years or longer at Ranney. In the past, at Ranney and elsewhere, I have written an occasional poem to celebrate the class. I did a first version of this parody a few years ago, but I thought in this climate it might be worth taking another crack at it. My Hamilton-inspired tribute to the class of 2020.”
At the graduation ceremony, 11 students were awarded with special honors:
Headmaster's Cup – Derek Vastola of Colts Neck (Harvard University)
Gershom Tomlinson Humanitarian Award – Nelly Fadil of Colts Neck (Lafayette) and Kathryn Peardon of Neptune (College of William & Mary)
Faculty Prize – Victoria Gualario of Colts Neck (Smith College), Seth Marx of Marlboro (Vanderbilt University), Ryan Rinaldo of Colts Neck (Wake Forest University)
Ann Kappel Citizenship and Service Award – Kieran Fino-Saunders of Sea Girt (Savannah College of Art and Design)
Robert Paulus Leadership and Perserverance Award – Olivia Knoop of Tinton Falls (Quinnipiac University)
Margaret M. Mahon Award – Charlotte Clark of Tinton Falls (Northeastern University)
Lawrence S. Sykoff Award- Sam Novotny of Freehold, NJ (New York University)
Ranney School Leadership Award – Lilly Blumenkrantz of Colts Neck (Elon University)
Please view additional honors that were awarded at virtual Honors Convocation on June 1, 2020: