The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

Prepping for Success

The school works to set students up for the future

UPrep declares to prepare students to be “intellectually courageous, socially responsible citizens of the world”. Alumni generally agree that the school has met their goal.  

UPrep alumni have generally positive opinions on how well they were prepared for the future. Joel Meyers (’17) currently portrays Albus Potter in the Broadway production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” He feels that the opportunities the school provided allowed him to explore his interests.

“For me, UPrep was just a place where a lot of doors were open,” Meyers said. “You get out what you put into it…high school is a great opportunity to say yes to a lot of things.”

Science teacher Ragini Narasimhan was able to impart advice that helped Meyers later in life.

“When I was a senior, she was just like, ‘Pick the hardest thing on the list and do it, and even if you fail, at least you can always say that you did that,’ and I thought that was great advice,” Meyers said. 

Talia LeVine (’23) had specific teachers who were able to help her find her skills during high school.

“I’m a visual art major. I took not a single art class in high school at UPrep. And yet, now I spend half of my time taking photos and it’s basically because of [yearbook adviser] Scott Collins,” LeVine said. “When I first started I sucked at it and then he was like ‘Talia, come on, you can do better.’ And so he pushed me. And then I think that through yearbook as well, I was able to really realize that I have the skills and the foundations to be a good leader.”

Annemarie Pozil (’21) continues to hold on to life skills from high school.

“I would say I have really good study habits compared to a lot of my friends who didn’t get a UPrep school education,” Pozil said.

Haley Hoffman (’23) continues to foster strong connections with her college instructors, stemming from her high school experiences.

“The relationships with teachers have been super helpful,” Hoffman said. “This semester, I’ve made a huge effort to meet with professors outside of class and make one-on-one connections, which I don’t think I would have been as confident doing if I hadn’t formed those at UPrep.” 

UPrep also helps alumni understand how to enact change and operate within institutions. LeVine now operates within the activist space at Brown University, currently focusing on the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

“The four years of really focusing on getting really good comprehensive health curriculums as well as getting a comprehensive Holocaust education really taught me that institutions don’t love to listen to the stakeholders,” LeVine said. “That prepared me with the necessary cynicism that I needed to go into the activist college environment where this school is run like a company.”

Another alumnus, Jackson Ragen (‘17) current center-back for the Seattle Sounders, played high-commitment soccer for Sounders Academy in high school. This made him susceptible to missing class often for games and practices.   

“The biggest thing UPrep has done for me, soccer-wise, is just be understanding and respectful and allow me to pursue my dream. Because, I mean, ultimately they could have said no and not let me train with the first teams,” Ragen said. “I probably wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now if I didn’t get that experience.” 

 As Ragen continues his soccer career, he continues to feel support from his past high school coaches Alex Duxbury and Nate Whitney.

“They still text me a lot after games. And they still come to a lot of Sounders games,” Ragen said. “I think having that support system while I was there, but also after I left, was very humbling and nice.”   

Director of Upper School Susie Wu has a vision for the community.  

“The common theme is about empowering students to figure out what they want or need for themselves,” Wu said. “I want our students to come out as being thoughtful and ethical leaders.” 

Assistant Head of School for Academics Ed Billingslea, also has a positive outlook for the future of UPrep’s students, as he wants all students to be well-rounded. 

“We want a curriculum that really emphasizes the liberal arts, which is basically a little bit of everything. Critical thinking, analytical writing, collaboration and public speaking,” Billingslea said. “We want all of those things infused within our curriculum along with [social emotional learning] and diversity, equity, and inclusion to make sure that not only are you good citizens, but also good global citizens.” 

 However, some past students feel they were fully set up for success in college. 

Pozil feels that UPrep could have had more education surrounding AP tests. Going into college Pozil did not have any starting AP credits from high school, so she had to enroll in more classes than some of her friends.  

“Something that didn’t set me up for success was the fact that we didn’t have any AP classes available and that delayed my registration,” Pozil said. “I could have taken the AP test on my own, but I don’t feel that UPrep prepared us for that at all.”

Additionally, LeVine feels that the small student body at UPrep creates a lack of diversity that makes the scope of ideas on a college campus feel overwhelming.

“I don’t think that I was as prepared as I would have liked to have been to deal with the massive range and diversity of thought,” LeVine said. “At UPrep, it was my understanding that we all had similar perceptions and understandings of the world.”

All UPrep alumni experience working with a college counselor before leaving high school. Britten Nelson, associate director of college counseling, believes that the school offers students a few different benefits when it comes to the college experience.

“I think our students are at an advantage in the way that they are not scared of their teachers,” Nelson said. “I think our students are at an advantage in college because they’re not afraid to ask questions.”

The college counseling department makes sure that students understand the opportunities they have access to.

“I think part of my job and helping students with that life success is reminding them that all the things that they’re exposed to here, that we are really intentional about, will be a part of those building blocks for the future,” Kelly Herrington, director of college counseling and student services, said. 

Despite varying opinions throughout the Alumni, faculty and staff are trying their best in setting everyone up for a successful future. 

“Our students may not be appreciative of it at the time but are thankful that we have pushed them in all five core academic subjects for all four years of high school,” Herrington said.

Meyers echoes this sentiment regarding his overall experience. 

“I think UPrep is a great all-around education. It gives you a great base on which to build,” Meyers said. “I was able to pursue a lot of interests at UPrep.”

When you make the transition from high school to college…your major is not your entire life. Most people don’t end up doing their major for the rest of their life after college, so don’t feel like you have to lock yourself into one thing. Really. I’m still figuring out what I want to do.

— Joel Meyers, Class of 2017

Figure out how to actually live a happy life and live the life you want to live and balance the social life with academic success. After all, school is like a trial for real life ,and you probably want to live a happy balance in real life.

— Ben Tratt, Class of 2020

The only way you’re actually gonna be prepared for university and for the academic workload is if you are actively seeking out your teachers and learning to communicate and just learning to self-advocate. That is one of the biggest parts of…succeeding academically.

— Talia Levine, Class of 2023



About the Contributors
Abby Dutton
Abby Dutton, Reporter
Abby Dutton is a reporter on the staff of the Puma Press. She is a sophomore and is new to the staff this year. She loves to spend time writing any type of article and is excited to learn more about journalistic writing. Her favorite part of journalism is spreading light on unheard and unappreciated stories. Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing soccer and reading.
Elena Pozzo, Puma Prints Reporter