Ranney School’s 70-member Class of 2021 celebrated its commencement on the campus of Ranney School on Thursday, May 27. Thirty 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 Emory, MIT, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, and Vanderbilt. For a complete list of colleges, visit ranneyschool.org
The Class of 2021 demonstrated a great deal of flexibility and resilience over the past two years. These seniors faced challenges along with the rest of the world, but they rose steadily to the overcome those challenges, turning lemons into lemonade on more than one occasion. The Student Council, led by Jillian Chandler of Rumson (Wake Forest University) created Wacky Wednesdays, a program that could connect community members who were virtual with those who were on campus to create the sense of community that was needed at Ranney. These seniors courageously picked colleges and universities to attend for the next four years even though many had never set foot on the campuses. They spearheaded dress down days, found fun ways to engage peers despite the obvious setbacks, and did it all with a close-knit bond. Within this class, there was a passion for community service as well. Ava Floyd of Rumson (Villanova University) started a Boys & Girls Club outreach program, while Sandy Wilderotter of Brielle (Vanderbilt University) began RHOPE, which raised funds and collected food to help those in the local community facing food insecurity. Annabella Andiorio (Wake Forest University) and Isabella Andiorio (Villanova University) of Colts Neck ran a toy drive for Aslan Youth Ministries during the holidays.
The students of Ranney School are encouraged to pursue all of their many passions, creating well-rounded global citizens who are motivated by the activities they love. Sandy Wilderotter and SiQi Liu of Shangai (Cornell University) won the New Jersey State Robotics Championship. Emily Zimmermann of Spring Lake (Villanova University) signed a National Letter of Intent to swim with the eight-time defending BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Champion Wildcats. Five students produced Capstone Projects that ranged in topics from: Overcoming and Understanding a Fear of Failure; Evolving States of Aerodynamics and Sustainability; The Progression of Jazz Styles from its Origins to the Present; A History: the Development of Computers and Computer Science; St. Bart’s Fire: The Process (And Product) of Writing a Feature Length Script. Tatiana Batson of Tinton Falls (University of New Haven), Clare Haas of Oceanport (Smith College), and Siobhan Jones of Millstone (NYU) founded Same Hate, Different Time, a group that sought to raise awareness on social issues and hosted a division-wide open forum on the BLM movement.
In his commencement speech, Valedictorian Evan Woska said, “I have found many parallels between the four-lap mile race and the four years of high school we have all just completed…. Coach Hodson gave me the most valuable piece of advice I have ever received. I will walk you all through the same exercise she told me to do. Life on of your arms as high as you can. Now lift it a little bit higher. Now my question is why you didn’t lift it that high in the first place? We are all hesitant to give actions our entire effort because we are too scared about the fallback of potential failure. I promise you the regret of not giving everything you have to a task is far worse than any potential ramification of doing so. Take this advice with you wherever you go and yourself that chance to prosper.
“As we close out our mile races, we must acknowledge that our running journey is far from complete. See, high school was a mile race with a defined path, beautifully painted lanes, and clear directions to follow. This new race we all entering into, the race of life, is completely different. If high school was a mile race, we are all entering into the marathon life in which we get to choose our own direction… Do not be afraid of lifting that arm up as high as you can because I promise it will lead you to a successful life. '" Evan, from Marlboro, will be attending Emory University in the Fall. At graduation, he was awarded the Male Faculty Prize, and at the 2021 Honors Convocation, Evan received the Economics Award. He also received Performing Arts award for Instrumental Orchestra and the Scholar-Athlete award. Evan was inducted into the Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Chinese Honor Society, National Scholar-Athlete Honor Society, and is a Ranney Lifer. He was also honored as an AP Scholar with Distinction. Evan is President of Senior Class Council, and was a three-season athlete all four years at Ranney, holding the school record for Cross Country, as well as the indoor records in the 800, 1600 meter, and 3200, as well as the outdoor record in the 3200 meter. Evan is also a member of the Upper School Orchestra and Electric Bow Fusion ensemble.
Added Salutatorian Ruby Roth of Los Angeles, California (University of Southern California), “We sit here today with the future in our hands. Where we go. Who we become. What impact will have on our world is up to us. Here at Ranney, we have been given the beginning of the tools we will need to shape not only our own lives, but the culture we live in, and the world we are going to pass down to our own children when their day comes. That is the journey of life. I wish you all to be safe on the road ahead, and happy travels.” Ruby was inducted into Cum Laude Society.
Dr. John Griffith, Head of Ranney School, captured the unique challenges faced head on by this class with these words, “What unites you not only with your peers at Ranney but to graduating classes across the country, is the resilience and adaptability you have shown in the face of volatility and disappointment in this year of COVID-19. You have worked to maintain the academic and social community we prize here at Ranney, even when circumstances might have conspired to break our bonds apart…Congratulations to the amazing and resilient Ranney School class of 2021 on their commencement.”
At the graduation ceremony, nine students were awarded with honors:
Headmaster's Cup – Jillian Chandler of Rumson (Wake Forest University)
Gershom Tomlinson Humanitarian Award – Sandy Wilderotter of Brielle (Vanderbilt University)
Faculty Prize – Brooke Schmelz of Monmouth Beach (MIT) and Evan Woska of Marlboro (Emory University)
Ann Kappel Citizenship and Service Award – Abigail Schaaff of West Long Branch (Rutgers University)
Robert Paulus Leadership and Perserverance Award – SiQi Liu of Shanghai (Cornell University)
Margaret M. Mahon Award – Anna Chalnick of Marlboro (Northeastern University)
Lawrence S. Sykoff Award- Deven Bhatnagar of Rumson (Wake Forest University)
Ranney School Leadership Award – Caroline Moore of Morganville (University of Southern California)
Please view additional honors that were awarded at the Senior Celebration and Convocation on May 24, 2021: