An Ode to the WRA

One of the locations that stands out most clearly in my mind when I think of my first time visiting Western Reserve Academy has since been lost to time. I can recall walking along brick row in my winter boots, tense with cold, as I followed my shadow into a building without looking where I was going. When I looked up, however, my mouth opened in shock. Here was a cozy room that could have fallen out of a prep school photo album. Along each wall were green booths with tables that friends of any grade could sit and study at, and at the center of the room was the hallowed Senior Space – a territory delineated by a handsome green carpet, with prime access to a fireplace and comfortable chairs. The timelessness and sense of community this space evoked was one of the deciding factors in my mind when it came to my judgement of this school.

During my freshman year, this space became known to me as the WRAp. Situated in the bottom of Seymour, where Mr. Manoli and Ms. Nagano’s classes are today, it was the ideal student space. It was centralized, meaning I could spend any free time there and still get to class in a hassle-free manner. It offered a sense of warmth and closeness through the intimate comfort of the booths. And, most of all, it gave underclassmen a glimpse into what an exciting future they had ahead of them as seniors, as they watched the upperclassmen walk on the forbidden rug and chat with their friends amicably. Here was a centerpiece proving that there was a light at the end of the anxiety-ridden tunnel of high school.

This little space proved perfect for club meetings that would occur during the day as well. I can recall with fondness the first Board Game Club meeting I set up with Ilyana Smith in the throes of winter exam week. People of all grades had the chance to sit together, eat obscene amounts of Skittles, and take a few moments to relax, feeling the warmth from the fireplace as they dug into a game of Catan or Monopoly.

Sometimes, when nobody was there, the WRAp offered moments of small rebellion for me; I remember clearly filming myself walking onto the senior carpet for the briefest of moments. A moment of defiance that stood out clearly in my mind and filled me with enthusiasm for the day that that carpet would be mine to walk on and make other kids excited to be around.

Clearly, since the renovation of Seymour, it became necessary to remove the WRA and place classrooms down there in its stead. While the changes that have occurred in Seymour (central air conditioning being a major factor) have proven quite beneficial, I cannot help but think that the absence of the WRAp leaves something of a hole in the campus heart. While we now have a fantastic senior space tucked into the Chapel, there was something truly special about having a central student center for everyone to intermingle in.

-Jasmine Wheeler ’20

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