Ravenscroft varsity wrestling placed fourth at the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Championships, held Feb. 27, 2021, at Providence Day School in Charlotte.
Cap & Gown: Senior Profiles
Leading By Example:
Class of 2020 Standouts Work to Build a More Inclusive Ravenscroft
By Stacy Calfo | Header Photo by Simon Capell | Back to Table of Contents
Whether they are lifelong Ravens or recent arrivals to the Upper School, members of the Class of 2020 have exemplified — through their close bonds as a class, their strong commitment to service and their enthusiasm in embracing their roles as citizen leaders — Ravenscroft’s commitment to being an inclusive community of learners and leaders. Here, we highlight six of these leaders as they prepare for the many opportunities the future holds.
When Eleanor Campbell ’20 speaks, people listen. Not surprising, given her participation with SPEAK (Students Pursuing Equity and Kindness), a club at Ravenscroft.
“In the past, SPEAK led workshops about social justice every other Martin Luther King Jr. weekend,” Campbell said. “In 2019, we wanted to make a broader impact on the community, so we started presenting at Morning Meetings and holding mini-workshops in advisory more often.”
A lifer and class valedictorian, Campbell also participated in Culture Observers, a group of Upper School students who, with training from the Center for Creative Leadership, logged observations of school culture and proposed ways to make Ravenscroft more inclusive.
Campbell and her parents react to friends, teachers and extended family members who watched her valedictorian speech live via Zoom.
Students focused on topics such as power dynamics in the Upper School and ways to improve relationships between upperclassmen and their younger counterparts.
“We wanted to find ways for our younger students to make themselves heard and help them understand that it’s OK to have an opinion and speak your mind in a safe environment,” she explained.
During her junior year she embraced another opportunity to lend her voice to an important cause when she and five other Ravenscroft students attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
“SDLC was an amazing opportunity because I was surrounded by students from all over the world,” Campbell said. “We each brought such different experiences from our respective schools, but through discussions and activities we came home with more concrete understandings of how to better ourselves and our communities.”
“I have written pages on Eleanor’s contributions to the Upper School,” SPEAK advisor Karen Carroll said. “She worked tirelessly to make the school a place where everyone feels welcomed, through her involvement not only with SPEAK but also in Culture Observers and the Spiritual Task Force.”
“I’d like to think that I’ve helped to make Ravenscroft an easier place to be heard and to voice your concerns,” Campbell said. “We have a small school, but it’s still easy to feel overwhelmed. I hope I’ve made people feel they aren’t alone and they have support.”
College Plans: Columbia University
Intended Major: Economics
Fun Fact: Eleanor has been a dancer in a pre-professional company throughout high school.
It might be a surprise to hear the co-star of Ravenscroft’s acclaimed production of “Chicago” say that performing on stage has meant stepping out of his shell, but for Shaurik Deshpande ’20, personal growth and leading by example have been hallmarks of his time in the Upper School.
He joined Ravenscroft as a ninth-grader after moving with his family from California. In the years since, “I have grown in ways I never expected. The teachers have exposed me to many different fields. I never considered myself a history guy, but now it’s a passion because of the teachers I’ve had. You can dip your feet into a lot of different areas and use high school to expand your horizons,” he said.
Deshpande wows audiences with his performance as lawyer Billy Flynn in Ravenscroft’s production of “Chicago.”
Deshpande got involved in Upper School leadership, serving as class president in ninth and 10th grades and as vice president of the Student Government’s Executive Council in his senior year. He was also a member of the Community Service Board, helping clubs create opportunities for students to engage in meaningful community service. As a member of Culture Observers, he worked to develop a more inclusive school culture and enhance the strength and impact of affinity groups.
Asked what advice he’d give to younger Ravens, Deshpande leaned on his own experiences. “Don’t be afraid to try something new,” he said. “Step outside of your comfort zone.”
His decision to get involved in theater has left a mark on the program — and electrified audiences.
“Shaurik’s kindness, willingness to help at all times and complete lack of hubris are notable,” drama instructor Jason Sharp said. “On top of setting a personal example for his peers on how to behave toward others, his voice may be the strongest example of a professional male voice that Ravenscroft has put on stage in the last 15 years. I would be thrilled to work with him professionally and look forward to hearing about his progress.”
College plans: UNC-Chapel Hill
Intended major: Statistics and analytics/computer science
Fun fact: Shaurik played The Beast in Ravenscroft’s 2019 production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
When Lucy Hao ’20 first moved from Beijing, China, in tenth grade, she was nervous she wouldn’t find a way to fit in at her new school. Lucky for Ravenscroft, Hao not only found her niche but discovered a way to share her passion for math with the school community.
After entering a statewide math competition in her sophomore year, Hao decided Ravenscroft could be more competitive in the event if the Upper School had a formal math club. Her leadership of the club has led to increased participation in statewide math competitions, including the prestigious Duke Math Meet.
“I was excited because this year we had enough club members to take two teams to the Duke Math Meet,” Hao said. “It just shows that more students are interested in math; they just need an outlet outside of class to embrace it.”
Hao, at center, and fellow Ravens celebrate after a strong showing at the school’s first appearance at the competitive Duke Math Meet.
That passion is infectious.
“Lucy does beautiful work collaboratively with her peers, and her presence enhances the atmosphere in the room,” Michael Erikson, chair of the Upper School Math Department, said. “She spearheaded our efforts to increase participation in competitive problem solving by making announcements, organizing study teams and distributing practice materials. The overwhelming majority of her peers that share this passion are young men, so she has sought out additional opportunities to interact with like-minded young women and had a very rewarding experience at the all-girls Summer Workshop in Math at Duke.”
Hao hopes her legacy at Ravenscroft includes a long-term Math Club so that younger Ravens will be able to explore math in the same ways she has.
“Ultimately, my goal was to introduce my classmates to math in a fun way and build their confidence, really get them to step out of their comfort zone – just like moving to America was a huge leap out of my comfort zone,” Hao said. “It shaped my character and I’ve become more mature through this process. I’m thankful I landed at Ravenscroft because its small size helped me explore new possibilities for myself.”
College Plans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Intended Major: Mathematics
Fun Fact: Lucy was president of the science club and led the a cappella choir at Ravenscroft.
Leadership seems to come naturally to Matthew Hunter ’20, who arrived at Ravenscroft as a freshman. By the time he was a senior, he was serving as president of both the Robotics Club and the African-American affinity group My Brother’s Keeper, as well as captain of the lacrosse team.
“My leadership opportunities in high school taught me the importance of communication,” he said. “Things are rarely accomplished by any group unless there is good communication and a clear vision of the goal.”
Former Interim Dean of Upper School Kalista Richardson, who served as co-advisor for My Brother’s Keeper, said Hunter’s leadership made a real difference in the important work of the affinity group.
Hunter and his teammates participate in a robotics competition.
“As busy as Ravenscroft senior athletes are, Matthew did not hesitate to step into the role as co-president of My Brother’s Keeper. He was always ready to organize an emergency meeting. He rallied the gentlemen around gathering supplies for our Guardian Angel Tree holiday gifts, even using some of his own money to make up the difference when donations fell short,” she said. “He wanted his fellow group members to be seen, heard and respected in the Upper School. His leadership and motivation will be missed!”
Hunter’s approach has also had a positive effect on his life outside of school.
“I do my best to make friends, or at least be on good terms, with all types of people,” he explained. “I have friends that are athletes, gamers and exchange students. This has led to some of my friends meeting and making connections with others they may not have under normal circumstances.”
In the end, he said, he attributes Ravenscroft’s citizen leadership culture for his ability to take on so many leadership roles.
“Ravenscroft provides us with so many advisors, opportunities and other resources for our own good. We are lucky to have all the tools the school gives us access to.”
College Plans: Hampton University
Intended Major: Engineering
Fun Fact: Matthew will continue to play lacrosse in college.
When he came to Ravenscroft in ninth grade, Sam Rappaport ’20 quickly realized his new school wasn’t like the public school setting he had chosen to leave.
“It was hard to stand out before,” Rappaport explained. “At Ravenscroft, I’ve had the opportunity to take on leadership roles, start clubs and affinity groups, and push something that I am passionate about.”
Rappaport’s passion begins with his faith. As a Jewish student, he noticed many Ravenscroft students were not familiar with Jewish traditions. Along with some of his classmates, he set out to change that.
Rappaport, in second row at center, and the varsity baseball team celebrate winning the 2019 TISAC Championship.
“When I was a sophomore, I helped start a Jewish culture club to educate our school community on our faith and traditions,” Rappaport said. “We were then encouraged to start a Jewish affinity group as a safe place for all Ravenscroft Jewish students to meet, share feelings, and talk about things happening all over the world.”
Rappaport was also instrumental in getting Yom Kippur added as an official school holiday.
“This is the largest holiday for our faith,” he noted. “It was more than just giving us no homework. It was getting the administration to understand that we needed time for reflection and spirituality as an important component of our faith.”
“As a leader of JAG and a member of the Spirituality Task Force, Sam truly embodied Lead From Here. He had the courage and conviction to raise awareness concerning issues of antisemitism in our society by working with his fellow JAG members to organize thoughtful and powerful presentations to the student body,” Matt Thomas, the affinity group’s advisor, said. “Sam also used his natural leadership skills and powerful sense of empathy to advocate for a more inclusive Ravenscroft community in regards to all faith perspectives."
Rappaport’s dedication to his beliefs is sure to leave a lasting legacy at his alma mater.
“We spoke up about a change we believed needed to be made,” he said. “I hope this inspires others to not be afraid to speak up and advocate for what they believe is right.”
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill
Intended Major: Business
Fun Fact: Sam was a member of Ravenscroft’s 2019 TISAC Championship baseball team.
Claire Ziperski ’20’s leadership experience at Ravenscroft is paving the way for a bright future. A Raven since PreK, she recently completed her tenure as Student Government president, and she helped lead Ravenscroft’s A Crucial Catch team to be the top school in the nation in fundraising — bringing in more than $30,000 — for the American Cancer Society.
“Being the student body president and leading a number of different clubs has exposed me to so many different points of view and perspectives,” she said. “I have learned that the best way to ensure inclusivity is to always make an effort to make people around me feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints and opinions in order to make Ravenscroft the best place it can be.”
Ziperski, at center, with the 2019-20 A Crucial Catch fundraising team, which raised more than $30K for cancer research and education.
“Claire served on Student Government for all four years while in the Upper School, as vice president of her class in ninth and 10th grade, Executive Council treasurer in 11th grade and Executive Council president in 12th grade,” Bryce Jones, the Upper School’s Student Government advisor, said. “She communicated to members in Student Government that their responsibility as elected officials was to serve and represent all members of the Ravenscroft community and to create an inclusive community for ‘every Raven, every day.’ Claire tirelessly reached out to all students through community service opportunities, athletic events, fine arts performances, social dances and by being a liaison to the administration.”
Ziperski said she sees the world as a complex and interdependent place where, ultimately, her success will depend on her ability to think strategically, collaborate with diverse groups of people and have empathy for those around her.
“I want to make the world a better place, and Ravenscroft has given me the tools and the vision to do so,” she concluded. “I hope my efforts have made a positive and lasting impact on inclusivity at Ravenscroft, and I look forward to expanding my outlook to a larger community.”
College Plans: University of Southern California-Los Angeles
Intended Major: Business
Fun Fact: Claire played varsity soccer her entire high school career.
Congratulations to the class of 2020!
The Class of 2020 has so much to be proud of! Enjoy more highlights – including videos of commencement addresses from valedictorian Eleanor Campbell ’20 and senior speaker Brad Taber ’20, the college acceptance list, and big news and special moments from their senior year – on our Senior Success page.
Class of 2020's time machine
Revisit moments from their first day of kindergarten to the first day of their senior year.
Ravenscroft Class of 2020 Photo album
See families’ photos from the individual diploma-conferring ceremonies and more in this Flickr album.
Ravenscroft Class of 2020 Instagram
Learn more about our newest alumni on the Class of 2020’s official Instagram account.
Keep in touch, Class of 2020!
Your class agents, below, will collect your news and photos for Class Notes in November of each year, so make sure they know how to get in touch with you. In addition, you may send an update to the Alumni Office at Ravenscroft anytime using our Submit a Class Note form. And be sure to join our Ravenscroft Alumni Facebook group!