Ransom Everglades offered an enthusiastic welcome to the Class of 2026 and newly admitted students rising into grades 7 through 12 with orientations on both campuses on April 6. The highlight of the day's programming was provided by Isa Peña ’19, Henry Schermerhorn ’19, Calliste Skouras ’19 and Ilija Wan-Simm ’19, who received a standing ovation from parents at Swenson Hall after sharing reflections on their years at RE. New families were also welcomed by Head of School Penny Townsend, Director of Admission Amy Sayfie Zichella ’93 and Associate Head of School John King.
Administrators offered an introduction to the school's history, guiding philosophies, curriculum, extracurricular opportunities and exciting plans for the future. Most of all, they strove to make the new students and families feel at home.
"Congratulations for all of your hard work, determination to succeed and good citizenship, all of which helped you to arrive to Ransom Everglades School," Sayfie Zichella said. "We are happy to have you here."
The Class of 2026 includes 40 alumni children and four children of married alumni – Stella Newman ’26 (Lisa Usiak Newman ’94 and Robert Newman ’95), Ruby Brooks ’26 (Cristina Rodriguez ’92 and Larry Brooks ’92), Jacob Aronow ’26 (Heather Lavan Aronow ’91 and David Aronow ’76) and Alexa Dueñas (Vivian Mora Dueñas ’95 and Miguel Dueñas ’95). That remarkable statistic prompted Sayfie Zichella to urge the incoming sixth graders to look around – their future spouses could be sitting nearby!
Townsend thanked the many sixth graders who sent her personal letters in response to her request for a note from each of them. "I loved your letters," she said. "The 100-percent-common theme was gratitude ... We have something really special here. Do not lose that gratitude. Do not take for granted what you have been given. We're going to expect a lot from you, but you are all up to it."
Students took part in placement testing and had a chance to meet class deans and many of the RE faculty. What left parents breathless, however, were the short speeches by the four seniors during the Middle School event. Schermerhorn, the Student Government Association president, emphasized what he had learned about leadership; Peña, Wan-Simm and Skouras talked about RE's welcoming community and myriad opportunities in and out of the classroom.
All made reference to the kind, inclusive nature of the student body.
"Regardless of who you are, your background or your interests, RE students will welcome you with open arms, as one of their own," Skouras said.
Wan-Simm described himself as a student with a purpose. "The students that come out of this school are people with a myriad of interests who share one commonality," he said. "We care more about what we can contribute to the world than we what we can take out of it."
"Throughout my seven years at RE, I was provided with so many opportunities to learn through the multitude of clubs here on campus," Peña said. "I have had the liberty to expand my knowledge in any area that I'm interested in, as well as connect certain areas of study to each other."
"One of the things I've most appreciated about Ransom Everglades is the constant leadership opportunities that were presented to me at every corner I turned," Schermerhorn said. "It made me feel as if my voice was meant to be heard, and that is a feeling I cannot express how grateful I am for."
Families at the Upper School also heard from Head of the Upper School Ken Mills and class deans; those at the Middle School heard from Head of the Middle School Rachel Rodriguez.
"This is a community," she said, "where there is a place for everyone."
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.