“I thought long and hard about my choice and talked to a lot of people about it,” says Dale. “My ego was telling me to go to a school that would make people think I was smart and congratulate me, but Illinois is the right place for me. Rabbi Baker often talks about the bechira points— those forks in the road when you have to pick the option that most aligns with your values. That’s what I ultimately did.”
“Smart,” “thoughtful,” “passionate”, “cohesive,” and “mensches” are words that are repeatedly used when describing Gann’s Class of 2017. This is a class with a political conscience (several students chose to miss school in order to canvass for a presidential candidate in New Hampshire) and won “color wars” every single year. This is a class that convinced the chief operating officer to switch to wind energy and lined the school entrance with 600 cupcakes for a senior prank after winning color war.
“They are a tight group of kids who have found their direction and are full of passion and purpose,” says senior class Dean Cindy Jacobs, adding that the pranksters incorporated a birthday cake for her in their display. “We give them guidance and keep them on task, but we also allow them to make mistakes because how else can they learn?”
Zoe Weiss arrived at Gann with a pretty solid idea of who she was: a math-science kid who loved sports. But Gann opened many doors for her, which she happily walked through, graduating with a more expansive sense of self and a wider range of interests: “I write for the satirical newspaper, The Artichoke, joined Model UN, play violin in the chamber ensemble and, with a teacher’s encouragement, joined the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra,” says Weiss. She also learned to be a leader— eventually rising to editor-in-chief of The Artichoke— skills she knows will serve her well in college and beyond.
Student Council President Stav Bejerano, one of the prime movers behind the greening of Gann, recalls his freshmen self, a smart aleck who could sometimes be disruptive in class. Then he found student government. “Through my involvement with Student Council, I could harness my chutzpah in a positive way,” explains Bejerano. “I could use it to see what the issues were in our community and be a reformer, and I credit the administration for enabling me to do that.”
Bejerano is off to Princeton after a gap year and Weiss will be attending Brown. Other seniors will scatter among a wide array of colleges and universities. About 10% are going to Ivy League colleges, while 18% will be matriculating at large state universities. Seniors will also attend a number of smaller liberal arts colleges, including Hampshire, Muhlenberg, Oberlin, Skidmore and Wesleyan. Almost a quarter of them are staying in Massachusetts, where they’ll study at schools such as Boston University, Brandeis, Clark, Northeastern, Tufts, and Wellesley, while a number are heading farther afield to places like Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Emory, Tulane, and Washington University in St. Louis.