Dressed in the white formal gowns and tuxedos that are a tradition in Summit Country Day School commencements, 105 graduates received their diplomas on Sunday, May 19.
Among the graduates, 43 were life-long students of The Summit – one of the largest groups of “lifers” to graduate in recent years. As valedictorian, lifer Julia Rosa Helm gave her commencement address in the school’s 19th century gothic revival chapel where she had many special memories since her preschool days.
“Summit is my home,” said Julia Rosa, who will attend Duke University this fall. “The time I have spent here, growing up alongside my classmates, has taught me to never take a moment for granted and to take advantage of every new opportunity.”
Heavily recruited by colleges, members of The Summit’s Class of 2019 distinguished themselves through achievements in science, mathematics, writing, Latin, athletics, fine arts, theater and instrumental and vocal performance. The class includes members of a state champion Latin club and both state champion boys’ and girls’ soccer teams. Eleven of them completed an advanced course of study in The Summit’s Science Research Institute and had internships in Cincinnati’s scientific community. One won an international photography prize. Another presented at a national cardiology conference and was published in a national review. One wrote and staged a musical which included 14 original songs.
“Every single person in this class is incredibly intelligent and talented,” Julia Rosa said. “Our class embodies Summit’s five pillars.”
Key outcomes of the class:
- The 105 graduates attracted more than $10 million in scholarship offers.
- Received 10 offers for full-tuition scholarships. The largest amount of scholarship dollars offered to a single student was $535,000. Eight colleges and universities offered The Summit’s graduates their top scholarship.
- 92% of the class took college-level classes through the College Board Advanced Placement Program.
- 14% of the class was recognized by National Merit. Half of them were lifers.
- 6 student athletes signed to NCAA Division I, and 3 will play on Division III teams. On average, 6 percent of college graduates go on to play college athletics.
- 81% participated in at least one sport during their senior year.
- Seniors performed 8,208 hours of community service hours, averaging 78 hours per student. The requirement is 48.
The 52 colleges and universities they attend will be coast-to-coast in 21 states and Canada. Half the students will attend colleges out-of-state.
“The large number of lifers in this graduating class is especially noteworthy because they have been immersed in our five-pillar mission since preschool,” said Head of School Rich Wilson. “They have fully benefitted from the top-tier, rigorous academics we offer in combination with our character and faith formation program. The Summit is who they are. In whatever paths await them, they have the intellect, emotional intelligence and strength of character to be the changemakers and peacemakers Christ calls them to be.”
The lifers don’t paint the whole picture of the Class of 2019, however. The other 62 graduates also enriched the class through their successes across The Summit’s five pillars – academically, spiritually, physically, socially and artistically. Among them were four students from China who spent their formative years in The Summit’s Upper School.
Yurui “Jerry” Wu, an international student from Beijing who will attend Northwestern University this fall, was the salutatorian. In his welcoming address at graduation, he said, “As a freshman, I knew precisely five people sitting in this chapel right now. Four years later, I am no longer surrounded by strangers. In the crowd today are some of the most humble mentors, the most approachable teachers and the most inspiring coaches I’ve ever had. You not only taught us to find the derivative of a function, you made us better human beings by demonstrating the characteristics of patience, humility, compassion and gratitude.”