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Posted Thursday, Oct 1, 2015 

Go Wildcats!

Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Wenyen Gabriel '16, one of the most sought-after high school boys' basketball recruits in the Class of 2016, verbally committed to the University of Kentucky Oct. 1.

Accompanied by WMA Coach Mike Mannix, Wenyen made his announcement at ESPN in Bristol, Conn.

"It's been like a dream, and hectic," said Wenyen, a 6-foot, 10-inch, 195-pound forward. "Going into the summer, I didn't know what to expect. Having it go this way is great. I learned a lot from a whole lot of people during the recruiting process. It's done a lot for me but it's taken a lot of time, but it's obviously worth it in the end. I feel confident in my decision. At times it got overwhelming and I had to go away from my phone, but I'm happy where I'm at right now."

Wenyen, the #23rd ranked player in the senior class by ESPN, had narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Duke, Maryland, Connecticut and Providence before selecting the long-time college basketball giant and its Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach, John Calipari.

"I really likes Cal's vision for me and I like how he recruited me," Wenyen explained. "He took my recruitment into his own hands. It made me feel special how he recruited me. Also, I like how his vision . . . me going to Kentucky, I don't have to be a certain type of player someone wants me to be. I can be who I am and play how I play: play hard, block shots, defend and not get locked into a position."

"I think he made a great choice," Coach Mannix added. "With all five schools that were involved late, no matter what he decided he was going to pick a great situation. When it came down to making his choice, he wanted to go to a place where his vision and goals gelled with the head coach, and I think that's what he saw in Coach Calipari. I think in the end Wenyen went with his heart. Kentucky's a smart choice."

Wenyen said he appreciated the support and privacy the WMA administration, faculty and students gave him during the recruiting process, and he's ready to move forward and focus on the Academy's Boys' Basketball season.

"Tomorrow is a fresh start to the basketball season," said Wenyen, an honor roll student. "It's a new chapter. It's a whole new team this year. We have a lot of different players from last year. I'm ready to start a special thing this year."
Posted Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015 

In a show of thanks, respect and strength, the Class of 2016 did something no other class in the history of Wilbraham & Monson Academy has ever accomplished.

Led by the Class of 2016 officers and prefects, all 103 seniors and postgraduates donated money toward its class gift for the Academy during a six-day period in September.

"Annual Fund giving for current students isn't about raising money," Head of School Brian Easler explained. "It's not about the amount or the collection of money from the current students. For me, it's the message that gets sent. Everything we do sends a message.

"The fact that everyone in the class participated in the Annual Fund sends the message that the Class of 2016 cares about the Academy, cares about the experience they have had here, what it means to them, and that they want it to mean something to everyone else. To me, that's incredibly powerful. One hundred percent participation sends that message."

The Class of 2016 will purchase four all-weather Adirondack chairs, which will be placed at the front of Rich Hall year-round for the students and faculty to enjoy. The class already had enough money for the chairs entering the school year, however, the leaders wanted the class to make its mark on the school by doing something no other class had done, which resulted in a new standard being set in regards to class giving.

"It's important to donate to the Academy for the school's continued success," said David Little, a four-time Class of 2016 officer. "With the 100% participation rate, we're hoping we set the bar for future classes as well as help create a strong class bond for reunions as we move on to becoming alumni."

Along with David, the class officers and prefects who led the historic effort were: Arman Ahmed, Chang-Yi "Eric" Chou, Asaiah Edwards, Jack Faulstick, Jahkeem Hunt, Colin O'Brien, Carly Venditti, Junhao "Mark" Xu, Xinyu "Tony" Zhang and Geqiong "Luciar" Zhao.

Below are quotes from members of the Class of 2016 on why they donated toward the class gift for the Academy:

Arman Ahmed: "To quote Elon Musk, 'I could either watch it happen, or be part of it.'"

Nichole Czuber: "I want to leave a part of me for the school after I graduate, and donating to the senior class gift seems like a perfect way to do that."

"Bee" Daloonpet: "I think it's just a really simple and amazing way for our class to show our appreciation for the school."

Payton Grande: "WMA has shaped me to be the person I am today over the past four years. I thought it only fair to give a little something back."

James Halloran: "My reason for donating to the Class of 2016 senior gift is simply because I have spent four years here at WMA and the school has done so much for me, from shaping me to become a better person than I had portrayed myself to be and take my academic life much more seriously. WMA has given me my sense of independence and self-reliance, which matured me very quickly and I feel I have gained a lot since I first stepped foot on this campus. For that I feel as if I owe the school as much as I can possibly offer."

Yingwen "Phoebe" Jiang: "WMA is a wonderful place. The Class of 2016 is and will always be my favorite and I'm so glad that we have a chance to do something for WMA before our graduation. I'm really proud of Class of 2016 for creating history and doing amazing things that have not been done before!"

Junhao Xu: "I donated toward my class gift because I wanted to help my class in achieving 100% participation. A class gift can be an epitome of what the Class of 2016 is: a truly global and helpful community of students who appreciate their experience at Wilbraham & Monson Academy."

Posted Tuesday, Sep 29, 2015 

Wilbraham & Monson Academy will continue one of its recent traditions when the Girls' Volleyball team competes against Ludlow High School in a Spike for the Cure event.

The sixth annual match will be held at Ludlow Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. Spike for the Cure is a national fundraiser in the fight against cancer.

"It's great we've been able to do this for six years now, even though there's a new coach at Ludlow," WMA Coach Donna Barone said. "The fact that it doesn't matter whether we're a private school or public school, it's all for the cause."

This year's proceeds will be raised in honor of a Ludlow janitor who died of multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells.

WMA and Ludlow collected approximately $10,000 in the first five years of the fundraiser.

"The team definitely has more fun with this match," Coach Barone said. "It's not about the winning. We can mix things up and everyone gets an opportunity to play. I think it's good for the fans that teenagers can do a charitable event and have fun with it, but still understand the seriousness of the mission."

Posted Monday, Sep 28, 2015 

Much like its first game of the season, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Field Hockey team broke a scoreless deadlock in the closing minutes to beat Hamden Hall Country Day School 1-0 Sept. 26 at the turf.

Sydney Liptak '16 scored off of a rebound with less than six minutes to play as the Titans pushed their record to 2-0-1.

"We're doing a very good job trusting our teammates," said Jenny English '17, who played all game with a high level of intensity at forward and midfield. "The team has been working hard on the field and has been giving 110%."

The Titans got 110% from four of their middle school players. Laurel Vartabedian '21, Charlotte Kindblom '21 and Charlotte Derose '21 gave WMA quality minutes, and defender Claire Thomas '20 cleared a dangerous ball away in the last minute. Goalie Megan Wells made eight saves for the team's second shutout in three games.

Posted Monday, Sep 28, 2015 

Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Football team made big play after big play on both sides of the ball as the Titans defeated St. Luke's School 31-22 Sept. 26 at the WMA turf.

It was the season-opener for WMA, which held the Connecticut day school scoreless in the second half.

"St. Luke's had already played a game two weeks ago and they won," WMA Coach Jeff Vartabedian said. "They had two weeks to prepare for us. They were a bowl team last year, and from what I can tell they had a lot of their top guys back. We knew we had our hands full but I thought our defensive front set a great tone in controlling the run game. That was our biggest focus for the game."

Quarterback Jack Faulstick '16 had a great game, throwing for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for another score. Steve Puzzo '16 (21 yards), Alex Claudio '17 (57) and Craig Green '16 (25) all caught touchdown passes.

There were just as many big plays on the defensive side of the ball, which ultimately determined the game. Tyler Lennon '17 intercepted a pass, and Alex and Inal Sibekov '17 forced fumbles. The Titans didn't turn the ball over.

"We were a little disappointed to go into halftime down (22-17) because we felt we should have been up before they scored with less than seven seconds to go," Coach Vartabedian said. "But the guys were confident in how we were playing, and our defense was relentless in the second half. We didn't give them any long plays, caused a fumble on the goal line, and the offense kept making explosive plays in the second half. It was never easy, never comfortable, but when we got a two-score lead we were able to burn some clock and the defense kept them at bay."

Alex and Nate Towle '18 both had seven tackles, and James Halloran '16 had six. Filip Vukelic '16 had two of the Titans' six sacks. Filip also kicked a 25-yard field goal, and made all four of his extra point attempts.

Posted Thursday, Sep 24, 2015 

One game after looking like the very young team that it is, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls' Soccer team looked like the championship team from last season.

Led by three goals from Katie Cronin '17, WMA beat visiting Berkshire School 4-1 Sept. 23 to win its first game of the season. The Academy lost its 2015 opener the previous week to Kingswood Oxford School.

"I really think we played better as a team," said Coach Don Nicholson, who graduated a number of key players from last year's league championship squad. "The first game, with the new players this year, I think there were some jitters. We have some young players – seventh graders and freshmen – who were playing their first varsity game."

"Today was one of the days that we really came together as a team," Katie added. "We passed well and connected and we got it done. I'm really proud of everyone. We've been working hard at practice and it paid off."

Katie got it done against Berkshire. Along with her three goals, she also assisted on a goal by Annika Bruce's '17.

"Katie works hard and finishes games," Coach Nicholson said. "She is deadly around the goal. She worked for 80 minutes. The other girls look to her. Half of that game Berkshire was doubling her up, but she has a way to turn. Most defenders can't stay with her. She just has an eye and an instinct to look for the goal."

Posted Wednesday, Sep 23, 2015 

People in the region recently learned what people at Wilbraham & Monson Academy already know.

In the 2016 Reader Raves, which was published Sept. 20 in the local newspaper, "The Republican," the Academy was voted the Best Private School in Western Massachusetts.

"Of course, we are extraordinarily proud of WMA and the accomplishments of our students and our program, but it is a wonderful affirmation to hear that so many other people agree," Head of School Brian Easler said. "WMA is a magical place where hard work abounds in a nurturing and supportive community. We are fortunate to be so involved in so many of our students' lofty dreams becoming reality."

More than 67,000 people participated in this year's Reader Raves, voting on 100 categories, ranging from Best Local Bank to Best Doughnuts.

"This award is particularly meaningful because we are surrounded by such fine and first-rate private school neighbors," Mr. Easler added. "To be honored in this way, by those who know us best, is a special tribute to the hard work and dedication our faculty and staff put in, day and night, to create the WMA student experience."

WMA, which dates back to 1804 and was the first school in the United States to educate students from China, enrolls more than 400 students from 24 countries. Here's what WMA students from around the world had to say about the Academy:

  • Phillip Borninkhof '16, Netherlands: "WMA is amazing. It feels like the community is one family."
  • Allie Collins-Anderson '16, Wilbraham: "I've been here seven years. When I give tours to families I tell them I wouldn't have stayed if I didn't love it. One of the main reasons I stayed was because of the Global Scholars program. I wouldn't have had nearly the opportunities I've had because of that. Also, and it's silly, but the senior stones ... that's something that's so unique about this school. No other school has it and I'll always feel like I'm here. Lastly, and I know it's cheesy, but the people ... the teachers are incredible, and Head of School is my advisor. We're so small it's easy to know each other and to know each other well. I love walking up and down the hill and saying 'hi' to every person I see."
  • Ikas de Brito Trindade '17, Angola: "WMA is a preparatory school for the modern world. The diverse environment that it offers reflects a world that is increasingly interconnected. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our faculty, staff and student body, we can create a home for students from all over the world."
  • Baccio Galletti '16, Italy: "Coming here I was able to meet a new culture and meet new people. It's comfortable here because I've made so many new friends. I think it was good to leave my country to meet new people and a new culture and see how the world really works."
  • Gerardo Navarro Leon '16, Mexico: "I am really enjoying my time here at WMA, mostly because since the day I arrived here everyone has been really nice to me and they all make me feel comfortable."
  • Kathy Ton '16, Vietnam: "I feel so welcome at WMA. It's like a second home to me. My dorm parents are like real parents and my dorm mates are like siblings. The support that I get from my friends and my teachers helps me cope with the fact that I'm 8,000 miles from home."
  • Carly Venditti '16, Wolcott, Conn.: "Interviewing here was different than when I interviewed at other private schools. I got a welcoming feeling here. The Admission staff was amazing, and beyond that, when I came for my Shadow Day visit, the feel I got from the faculty and the school was something that I enjoyed and liked."
  • Xinyu "Tony" Zhang '16, China: "WMA feels like home even though I'm 6,000 miles away from my parents."
Posted Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 

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