“The world is vast and filled with endless possibilities, and now it's time to put what you learned into action,” guest speaker Ricky Joshi ’97 said to graduates at Columbus Academy’s 2024 Commencement on June 3. “To that effect, stay curious, play in the rain. Embrace the world with open arms and relentless optimism… I can’t emphasize that enough, relentless optimism.”

The 105 members of Academy’s class of 2024 will matriculate to 70 different colleges in 25 different states and three countries.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it,” stated Ricky, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School who co-founded Saatva, the pioneering online luxury mattress retailer that has fundamentally transformed the mattress industry since its inception in 2011. “The final result might not look like you imagined – in fact, I would argue it will not look like you imagined – but some dream will become a reality. Revel in the potential, the positive, and remember – life is a journey, not a destination. I wrote that quote in my yearbook 27 years ago and it still rings true.”

Ricky’s words of wisdom for the graduates:

  • Create a good playlist.
  • There is no such thing as being too friendly and too kind.
  • Stay true to your values.
  • Be persistent.
  • Be grateful.


In their welcome speeches, both Head of School Melissa Soderberg and Senior Class President David Werstler ’24 asked the new alumni to reflect on their personal and collective growth while attending Columbus Academy.

“Each of you has the courage and skills to take the non-linear path to lead a life of your principles, of your values and of your interests,” said Melissa. “I hope, and I know the faculty and staff hope – and I bet your parents hope – that the education you received at Columbus Academy will emerge as one of the many sounding boards you use as you make your way through the wonderful and messy parts of your next years.”

David let his classmates know that he considers them as family. “While I understand some of you are ready to be done here and move on to the next chapter of your life, I encourage you to look at the celebration as a day of reflection,” he stated, “to think of all the good that has happened to you at this school because life is a lot better when you appreciate the good things, and so many of those good things happened right here at CA.”


As recipient of the Cary Cup, Mikey Jauchius ’24 was chosen by his graduating classmates to deliver the Valedictory Address. He had been their class president during their sophomore and junior years and served as Student Council co-president this past school year. Mikey will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as one of three Academy graduates who accepted appointments to the service academies this year.

“We have champions in sports, chess, robotics, arts, math, orchestra and so much more,” said Mikey. “We have many different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Yet, as different as we may seem, we have attacked every challenge together as one.”

In addition to thanking teachers, administrators, friends and family for their unwavering support, Mikey shared his thoughts on the key components to having a successful life:

  • Never ever quit
  • Believe in yourself
  • Dream big

“After going to school with you for many years,” Mikey told his classmates, “I can confidently say I believe in the abilities of every member of the class of 2024 to work through the challenges we will face and to attack those challenges until the day is won. I believe in you.”


Columbus Academy’s Class of 2024

Gabriel Joseph Aebi
Elizabeth Margaret Akey

Irena Sonali Alahakoon
Zaina Albirini
Justin Matthew Alpert
Zoya Inell Arnold
Amanda Elizabeth Baca
Charlotte Elle Baker
Annika Baking
Yasemin M. Bilgin
Milana Isabella Biswas
Charles Edward Brigdon
Dorian McKenzie Bristol
Elijah Bennett Broh
Evie Brunton
Addy Butler
Elliana Josephine Cain
Caroline Allison Calodney
Arya Jacqueline Chabria
Alison Chen
Malia Wai Mee Chow
Elsa Lucille Crook
Ashton Brock Navin Dadlani
Joseph West Daiber
Andrew Jack DeLuca
Rafael Diaz-Zuniga
Faith Rosa Donaldson
Mia Caroline Donaldson
Matthew Xue Fang
René Victoria Fleege
Sydney Laura Fortney
Lauren E. Golden
Morgan Olivia Halpern
Camille Foley Hannallah
Ellen Louisa Hansen
William Joseph Harpster
Caitlynn Samantha Hinds
Noah Arthur SeungWoo Houston
Angela Hu
Colin Matthew Hulme
Lance David Hulme
Sean Mahendra Jackson
Akshaj Jagarapu
Carson Nicholas James
Michael Dean Jauchius
Thomas Andrew Jauchius
Aanav Sehgal Karumsi
Allison Brooke Klinefelter
Parker McClelland Knapp
Joshua King
Stella Annabelle Lee
Sofía Jolie Quezada Lott
Ella F. Lowrie
C. Robert Lucas
Stavros L. Maish
Madelyne A. Martin
Maria Josephine Masek
Isabella Minli Chang Miller
Charles William Morris
Philip Ivan Nedeltchev
Adaugo Onachukwu Nwoke
James Louis Phieffer
Grace Sara Philip
Lauren Melissa Prall
Michael Lambros Raimondo
Kelli Lynn Raque
Neelesh Tarun Rayani
Adam Arshad Rehan
Cecelia Rose Reitter
Morgan Elise Richards
Mitchell Thomas Rogers
Scott Tyler Rogers
Grace Marcella Romanelli
Adi Sadana
Mia Kathalynne Salopek
Joseph William Sardo
Elliott Schehl
Evan J. Schenck-Chang
Claire Madeline Schiltz
Eleanor Catherine Schroeder
Alivia Breann Schultz
Eric Joshua Schuster
Tanner Andrew Shah
Elizabeth Ann Smith
Megan Roxanne Smith
Andrew Michael Stokes
Charlie Thomas Stoughton
Reed Swartz
Eliora Teferi
Greyson Kai Aubert Thomas
Nicholas Blanchard Tiberi
Peter Evan Tsung
David James Werstler
Alaina Catherine Nicole West
Samantha Elizabeth Whitson
Ryne Ethan Whitt
Henry Russell Wood
Lydia Margaretta Wright
Lauren Elizabeth Wunsch
Nicholas Antonio Yakam
Jack Alexander Yeoman
Carey Huang Yi
Shaia Carmen Young
Abigail Yining Zhao
William Nathan Zumberge