Pep Squad

We'd never tried anything like it before: 139 students, 32 private schools, two photographers, 10 staffers and a handful of helicopter parents all in St. Ignatius' Sullivan Gym to shoot our September cover. We had cheerleaders, athletes, student leaders, band members, a tiger and more school spirit than you can shake a pompom at.

In fact, we received more than we'd hoped for. If you compare the cover to the picture above, you'll notice all that enthusiasm couldn't be contained by a single page. (If you can't quite find your favorite student, check out our individual school pictures in the photo gallery online.) I guess I shouldn't be surprised after reading the stories in this year's Private Schools feature.

There's a lot to be excited about, from a Hathaway Brown senior who launched the region's first high school film festival, to St. Martin de Porres High School juniors who helped create bilingual storybooks for kids in Honduras, to a University School English teacher who penned his second book of poetry. And if you thought your summer vacation was exciting, check out the Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin junior who continued his quest to climb the highest peak in all 50 states, or the Western Reserve Academy senior who was one of 21 kids from around the globe studying physics in Germany.

This year's edition is particularly relevant for me as well. My oldest will be a freshman at St. Ignatius this fall. So for the past 18 months or so, selecting a high school has been a huge (and stressful) topic in our house. There's a lot to consider: academic programs, special interests, athletics, tuition, community service and maintaining friendships. That's a pretty heavy burden for a 14-year-old.

Luckily, we are blessed with plenty of great choices (including the public school system). As West Siders, kids in his class will attend Cleveland Central Catholic, St. Edward, St. Joseph Academy, Holy Name, Trinity and Ignatius — all good schools.

As for my son, I'm sure he'll find his place at Ignatius as "a man for others" (he's been practicing knotting his tie for weeks). I hope we can help find the right fit for your child as well.

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