Columbus Academy is beginning a new era with classes that began Wednesday, Aug. 21.
About 1,085 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were expected to be greeted by Melissa Soderberg, who officially became the coeducational, independent school's first female head of school July 1.
"We are starting a bit of a new era, but it's a school that has been around for 103 years," she told ThisWeek. "The year will be one of getting to know everyone, the students and the traditions the school loves and perpetuates. It will be living through understanding great strengths."
On opening day, Soderberg said, she wanted to emphasize to students the importance of belonging to a place that has such a rich history.
The school's past and future merged on the first day of class with the arrival of the first students who are children of two alumni parents: pre-kindergartners Harper Bean, Willa Finn and August McCullen. Harper is the daughter of Carter and Brittany Bean, who both graduated from Columbus Academy in 1993 and currently live in Upper Arlington. Willa is the daughter of Ted and Allison Finn of Columbus, who graduated with Columbus Academy's class of 1995. August is the son of Michael and Mary Ellen McCullen, both 1998 graduates who live in Sunbury.
"It's a real sense the school has come full circle," Soderberg said. "What a great celebration. The school is living out its mission to be a strong coeducational place of excellence."
In addition to Soderberg and the alumni children, the academy welcomed 123 new students and 17 new faculty and staff members to its 231-acre campus in Gahanna.
Academy's students represent 52 different ZIP codes in and around central Ohio, from areas as far as Dayton, Newark and Lancaster.
Two new faculty members at the Upper School are English teacher Brianna Stout and history teacher Matt Thomas.
New additions to the Middle School are Katie Castle (math), Lauren Ridenour (language arts), Sonam Shahani (writing workshop) and Michael Ross Smith (language arts).
Joining the Lower School are Andrea Arner (assistant librarian), Alyssa Ashbaugh (intervention specialist), Delia Hoch (kindergarten), Kelly Parker (second-grade assistant), Dr. Katie Rentel (Spanish), Ashley Schreiber (first grade), Michelle Schroeder (pre-kindergarten assistant) and Mike Weible (kindergarten assistant).
New to the academy's staff are Emily Campbell, director of annual and major gifts, communications and marketing assistant Megan Wanner and human-resources coordinator Sondra Zardus.
Anyone interested in applying to Columbus Academy for the 2014-15 school year is invited to attend a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten showcase at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16. An open house for all grades will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24. Call 614-509-2220 to register for either event.