“Look around, this is one of the few times when we are all together,” said Head of School Melissa Soderberg in her opening remarks to students during Columbus Academy’s Convocation on August 25. “Think about the people around you who have helped you to get where you are at this point in life and in school. Your family and teachers are likely to be at the very top. You, too, can commit yourself to acting with kindness and courage.”

Academy opened its doors for the 113th school year on August 21 as 1,169 students from age three to grade 12 arrived on campus over the course of two days. The Class of 2024 consists of 106 seniors who will graduate in the spring.

Two of those seniors – Student Body Co-Presidents Mikey Jauchius and Angela Hu – spoke to our lower, middle and upper school students about what to expect and how to enjoy each stage of their experience at Academy.

“We want this school year to be one of the most memorable ones of your Academy experience,” Mikey said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are entering first grade or starting a laborious junior year, you are here and you are loved. And we know you can make this year the best it can be.”

Both Mikey and Angela also shared personal experiences from their time on campus.

“I have gone to Columbus Academy since PreK, and some of my favorite memories were made right here on this campus,” Mikey said. “This place has become my second home. I still remember getting my senior buddy, and now I’m about to meet my kindergarten buddy. It is truly surreal to see my time at Academy come full circle, and it is crazy to think how far my peers and I have come.”

“I joined Academy in eighth grade,” Angela said, “but I knew how much I would love this place the moment I toured. The kind students, the welcoming teachers, the whole community was so united. It’s great to me to see how I can go from admiring the tight-knit bond of this school as a new student to now only having one more year left here.”

Before the Class of 2024 was paired with kindergarten buddies, Angela closed out the speech by expressing her and Mikey’s appreciation for and excitement in being a part of this year’s senior class.

“Mikey and I are honored to be a part of such a special group of people to finish off our high school careers, and we are thrilled to show you what we have in store for you all.”

Earlier in the ceremony, longtime faculty and staff members were recognized for reaching milestones of serving on campus: first grade teacher Beth Klug, second grade teacher Donna Saide, eighth grade language arts teacher Amy Seymore, middle school math teacher Chuck Simpson and third grade teacher Sarah Warstler are in their 20th year, upper school history teacher John Compton has begun his 30th year, John Wuorinen is in his 40th year – first as a faculty member and now as admissions director – and upper school art teacher David Block becomes just the second person in the history of the school to reach his 50th year.

To help celebrate David’s 50th year, Melissa shared some notes from an evaluation of his from 1977, just three years into his career as an art teacher for all grade levels.

“Inscribed on a blank piece of paper, the head of school [at the time] wrote, ‘David is a wonderful teacher. Number one: he is thoroughly committed. Number two: he has a very heavy teaching load. Number three: he has a great attitude. Number four: he still seems young, but he’s a great contributing member to the faculty and students.’ We are so proud David to call you one of our own.”

Melissa also shared three gifts with David, who was given a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage with his sister Barbara. Earlier this week, David received his official reserved parking spot, but the school also gifted him an honorary “D Block 50” flag that will fly on all flag poles across campus the entire school year plus a Tiffany replica of the infamous Chicago Bean inscribed with “D Block” (learn more about its significance in the video below).