Eight RE seniors reflected on their years at Ransom Everglades in front of a rapt group of parents at the much-anticipated annual Senior Panel on April 23. Arianna Gonzalez '19, Aliya Hollub '19, Maggie McDowell '19, Alex Mendelson '19, Thomas Murphy '19, Henry Schermerhorn '19, Rachel Seipp '19 and Daniela Zaidenberg '19 expressed gratitude, recalled memorable experiences and offered advice to younger students.
The seniors discussed their fondness for a variety of extra-curricular activities and opportunities. They touted RE's annual business plan challenge, the Booker T. Washington exchange, the Global Online Academy, the ninth-grade Outward Bound trip and the peer-to-peer counseling program known as the Health Information Project (HIP).
They expressed appreciation for RE's faculty; the numerous opportunities for growth inside and outside the classroom; the school's reliance on discussion-based learning; and their supportive peers. They said they wished they had spent more time exploring the bay. They advised younger students to try new things, develop their passions and take care of their physical and mental health.
They also shared their college destinations for the fall. Gonzalez will attend Cornell; Hollub, Washington University in St. Louis; McDowell, Cornell; Mendelson, Columbia; Murphy, Duke; Schermerhorn, New York University; Seipp; Vanderbilt; and Zaidenberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Head of the Upper School Ken Mills and Jen Nero, the chair of the History and Social Sciences Department, led the discussion. Parents also asked questions. A few excerpts:
On Harkness tables – round or long tables designed to promote discussion that populate RE's classrooms:
"It's taught me not to be afraid to exert my opinion. I think it's taught me to be a leader inside and outside the classroom." (Rachel Seipp)
"I have loved [the Harkness method] so much -- I think that's a unique thing that we have here. I really think it's instrumental in how successful Ransom Everglades students are and how passionate they are. It's a very unique experience, and we're very fortunate to be able to learn in that way." (Maggie McDowell)
"The relationships between teachers and students, I think that's something that Ransom Everglades does very well. ...That's something that makes Ransom Everglades very unique and special, and I very much appreciate that." (Henry Schermerhorn)
On extra-curricular activities:
"There should be a certain fun outlet that you have to fully take advantage of this great school." (Daniela Zaidenberg)
"It's all about what you put into it. You shouldn't be afraid to try new experiences ... [and] keep an open mind. The effort you put into it, you're going to get back out." (Alex Mendelson)
Advice on junior year:
"It's important to focus on yourself because you're surrounded by so many smart people. Some may have straight A-pluses – that's defiinitely not what I had – and you'll hear, 'So-and-so got a 35 on the ACT – they're done.' ... Don't let things like that deter you... Keep doing what you can do personally." (Rachel Seipp)
"Obviously, junior year is stressful; there's no avoiding that, but it's really important to keep things in perspective... Pace yourself... Keep goals for yourself ....Try not to get caught up in things. Don't discuss your scores with other people. Try to keep things to yourself, and stay focused on your own goals." (Aliya Hollub)
"It's really about taking it one step at a time. Crack open an SAT book. Just finish it. It's a lot, but sit down a couple hours each weekend, two or three times, and then you'll be done with it. And then you'll take the exam and it will be over." (Daniela Zaidenberg)
"Junior year you should stick to your [primary] activities, delve deeper into them than ever before... SAT and ACT and the college process are really their own extra-curricular activities unto themselves, so don't overcommit your junior year." (Thomas Murphy)
"I'd give the advice, 'Do not be afraid to ask for help.' ... The people right here are so smart. There might be one thing that I lack that, maybe, Maggie is good at. It's important to be able to ask for help." (Aliya Hollub)
"When you're choosing your classes... take classes that sound interesting to you, that you know you're passionate about." (Henry Schermerhorn)
"I'd emphasize living a balanced lifestyle, sleeping well, eating well... We go to such an amazing school, everybody is so smart, and they all care so much about what they're learning. That's great, but at the same time, it's such a competitive environment – not cutthroat, but we're all such high achievers...." (Maggie McDowell)
On the senior trip to Circle F Dude Ranch:
"Circle F was so much fun. It was like going to summer camp with people, just kicking the year off to a great start." (Rachel Seipp)
On the bay:
"Going out on the bay, that's incredible. You're not going to have that experience at any other school. I'm going to miss that next year in New York." (Alex Mendelson)
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.