After a breakout junior season with the Haverford College lacrosse team, Katharine FERENCE ’19 was honored by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) with a selection to the All-Metro Region second team after earning first-team All-Centennial Conference honors. Katharine was one of 272 Division III student athletes the IWLCA chose for the 2022 All-Region teams, deeming her eligible to be named to a national IWLCA All-American team.
Ellis’ Gender and Power class finished the school year with a gender-focused capstone project that combined art and activism. Each student or student team identified a cause that had deep meaning for them, wrote a manifesto, and then selected a tool through which to organize creative actions addressing their chosen issue.
Shivani Nangia and Jenna Trent, Class of 2022, have been recognized with Emerging Epidemiologist Awards by EPI Gives Back, a group based in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. This esteemed prize recognizes rising public health stars with an outstanding commitment to the ideals of public health, leadership, and service.
Four Ellis students earned top accolades at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) State Competition, held at Penn State University on May 16, 2022. Avery Cynkar, Class of 2027, Viola Haggerty, Class of 2023, Livia Keelan, Class of 2024, and Enysah Roberts, Class of 2023, each won first place awards for their projects. Viola also achieved the high honor of a perfect score, a rare accomplishment at the state level.
Earlier this spring, Joy’s Gym came alive with an exuberant energy that echoed across campus. The entire Middle School community gathered to see the creativity of Ellis’ fifth and sixth graders on display, filling the space with the hustle and bustle one might find at a real-world artisan market. Festive booths showcasing unique products lined the gym’s perimeter, and students excitedly demonstrated their creations, rattling off sales pitches and counting stacks of brightly colored “Ellis bucks.” Following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and after undergoing a strategic refresh, Ellis Entrepreneurs has made a triumphant return.
The Ellis School will bid farewell to five longtime faculty members—Visual Arts Teacher Belle Moldovan, Upper School History Teacher Rick Malmstrom, Middle and Upper School History Teacher Jeri Simon, Upper School Mathematics Teacher Liza Goldberg, and History Department Chair and Global Initiatives Coordinator Susan Corbesero—upon their retirement from Ellis at the end of the 2021–2022 school year. During their collective tenures, these beloved educators have guided, mentored, and inspired over three decades’ worth of students within their classrooms.
The Ellis School is proud to announce the Class of 2022’s college matriculation list. The 35 members of this year’s senior class will be attending 32 distinct institutions in 17 different states this fall to begin their undergraduate studies.
Ten Upper School students have been inducted into the National Honor Societies for world languages. Four students were inducted into the National Latin Honor Society and six students were inducted into Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica.
Enysah Roberts, Class of 2023, has been honored with a gold medal in the category of Biology/Microbiology as part of the first-annual Coraopolis NAACP ACT-SO Program. An acronym for Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics, ACT-SO is a yearlong enrichment program that recognizes, prepares, and rewards African-American youth who exemplify scholastic and artistic excellence.
For the eighth time in 14 years of competing, Ellis’ Middle School Future City team placed first at the Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition. The team was also honored with special awards for Best Transportation System and Most Creative Use of Recyclable Materials. Ellis’ Future City students advanced to the National Finals (held virtually in early February) to compete against fellow aspiring engineers from across the country, and it was announced in late March that the team’s city had won the American Ceramics Society's award for Best Use of Glass in Technology and for Sustainability.
The students of Ellis’ MATHCOUNTS team really know their numbers. They can maneuver puzzle-like word problems, work together to crack tough equations, and race against the clock while completing complex calculations. Each club period, this small but mighty band of middle school mathletes meets to sharpen their skills—and this year the students have chosen to continue meeting even though their competition season has passed. Why? Because they know that math takes practice; because they believe they can always get better; and, most of all, because they enjoy it.
Ellis third graders love a challenge—especially when it comes to math, and even more so when they get to work as a team. Whether they’re brainstorming the best designs for their division quilts or writing original word problems and seeing if their classmates can complete them, a special kind of joy can be found in the moments when the students are stretching their problem-solving skills together. But as much as these young scholars enjoy collaboration, they’re now excitedly preparing to participate in a nationwide math contest, a special challenge that they will take on as individuals.
AP Calculus BC is the capstone mathematics course at Ellis—the highest a student can climb within the math world before leaving the Upper School. The class represents a culmination of all the mathematical knowledge students have developed over the course of their academic career thus far, and it even reveals connections to disciplines outside of math, such as physics and biology. Just as important as the class’ subject matter, though, is the classroom environment in which it’s taught. As any senior taking it will tell you, it is a strictly judgment-free zone.
Bailey Nolan, Class of 2026, was selected to perform in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 1 Junior High Orchestra. She represented The Ellis School at the District 1 Junior High Orchestra Festival held on February 18 and 19 at North Hills Middle School.
Ellis senior Ada Perlman presented to City Council on Tuesday, February 8, as part of her work with the citywide Students and Government Council (SAGC) program, of which she is one of three senior advisors. Alongside her SAGC peers, Ada shared the outcomes of the students’ District 9 project, a groundbreaking initiative launched by Councilman Ricky Burgess that gave students the legislative power to fund programming for the first time in Pittsburgh history.
Ellis Middle and Upper School students were honored with top awards at the 2022 Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) regional competition. The students were recognized for experiments they researched, designed, and conducted in categories including biology, physics, biochemistry, computer science, chemistry, ecology, and microbiology. Students who placed first are eligible to continue on to the state competition in May.
Amelia Reines, Class of 2023, has been chosen to sing in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State Chorus. Amelia placed among the top 28 singers in her voice section from across the state and will perform in the 2022 PMEA All-State Festival.
29 Ellis students representing grades 7–12 have a collective 44 works of art included in the 2022 Scholastic Art Awards exhibition, earning a total of 3 Gold Key awards, 14 Silver Key awards, and 27 Honorable Mention awards. Their art has been honored in several categories, including photography, digital art, drawing and illustration, ceramics and glass, painting, and mixed media.
A number of Ellis student writers were recently celebrated for their participation in the regional Scholastic Writing Awards. Recognized for their critical essays, poetry, personal essays, journalism, science fiction, and fantasy, 28 Ellis students representing grades 8–12 won a total of 37 awards, including 5 Gold Keys, 17 Silver Keys, and 15 Honorable Mentions.
Selah Cyrus, Class of 2027, Lizzie Brown, Class of 2026, and Bailey Nolan, Class of 2026, currently have artwork on virtual display for the 2022 Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) Youth Art Month exhibition.
On Friday, February 10, the Upper School community gathered on campus to participate in the School’s first-ever Wellness Day. Organized by Head of Upper School Amanda Finigan, Associate Head of Upper School Ashley Dotson, and School Counselor Karen Boyer, the day offered students a change of pace and an opportunity to explore new wellness practices outside of the classroom.
During the Ellis English department’s formal review of the Middle and Upper School curriculum, faculty sought to ensure that the literature studied in their classes represented students’ diverse lived experiences and voices. A key piece of student feedback that was collected as part of this review came through loud and clear: students wanted to read stories that incorporated more empowering female characters, particularly women of color.
What was daily life like in the Indus River Valley? How is the Chinese New Year celebrated? Who participated in the very first Olympics? An encyclopedia or Google search could provide these answers—but you would get a much more exciting response from an Ellis second grader.
A sophomore, designated the "Special Student” of the day, stands in front of a classroom of her Upper School peers. She replies to interview questions asked by her teacher and classmates, speaking enthusiastically about Tom Hanks movies, her favorite Marvel characters, and her love of One Direction. It’s an entertaining exercise, and an impressive one—for the majority of the discussion has been spoken in Latin.
Middle School Physical Education Teacher Brianne Kelly has been selected for induction into the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Hall of Fame. Ms. Kelly, who also serves as a coach for Ellis’ Middle School soccer and lacrosse teams, is one of 16 inductees in the WPIAL Hall of Fame Class of 2022, the 15th class in the Hall of Fame’s history.
Meghan McNabb, Class of 2022, will go from Tiger to Griffin when she joins the Division II Cross Country and Track and Field teams at Seton Hill University this fall. Meghan, who plans to enroll in Seton Hill’s 5-year Integrated Master’s program for Nutrition and Dietetics, signed her National Letter of Intent and celebrated her commitment on campus alongside her classmates and fellow Upper School community members.
On Friday, January 14, 2022, the Upper School community gathered on campus to participate in Culture Jam, The Ellis School’s annual diversity conference for high school students. Organized by Ellis’ Student Diversity League (SDL) and now in its eighteenth year, Culture Jam is the longest-running student-led diversity conference in the region.
Ellis Chemistry students kick off the school year with an algebra lesson. This may come as a surprise for some of these aspiring scientists, who perhaps were picturing bubbling beakers or mysterious solutions instead of sorting out equations. But, according to Chemistry and AP Chemistry Teacher Lynne St. Hilaire, as students fuse their math and science knowledge and begin to see how the two disciplines intersect, they’re mastering foundational skills that will empower them to become more confident chemists.
Three Ellis third graders were recognized for their literary talents in the Western Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English (WPCTE) Flash Fiction Writing Contest. Shay J., Ryan M., and Scarlett R. each received honorable mentions for their submissions, titled “Pete!,” “Zombie Princess,” and “The Man with the Mask and the Blood Red Hand,” respectively.
Building a bobsled for a baker. Designing an exercise space for a snow queen. Constructing a bathing contraption for a beloved family pet. It’s all in a day’s work for Ellis Lower School students, who learn about engineering through the lens of empathy—and use a lot of imagination while doing so.
The students who participate on Ellis’ FIRST Tech Challenge team have been busy, to say the least. For months they’ve been working away in the lab, building their own robot, programming code, and figuring out just how their new creation will operate. Now, they’re setting their sights on the event they’ve been waiting for and striving toward all year: their very first competition, which will also mark The Ellis School’s debut as a FIRST Tech Challenge contender.