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The Cupola

About The Cupola

The Cupola is a publication run by Elgin Academy students. The dedicated and creative student staff plan, write, edit and work collaboratively to put together each issue of The Cupola. They are supported by website staff, the communications department, and a faculty advisor. 

  From The Editor

Summer Issue: Letter From the Editor
Anika Jaitley '23

Dear EA Community,

Welcome to the final edition of The Cupola for the 2022-23 academic year! I hope this issue finds you well.

With the end of the school year upon us, the Hilltop has seen a wide range of festivities taking place on campus. This edition primarily serves to reflect on EA happenings this year, highlight moments of celebration, and look into the future. The writers and I are so excited to share this edition of The Cupola with you all.

Finally, as I am a senior, this is my last edition contributing to The Cupola, and I would like to take a moment to reflect on my time as a member of The Cupola staff. Writing for The Cupola for three years and serving as Editor-in-Chief and Club President for one has truly been a privilege. The Cupola's evolution over the past few years has been wonderful to see, and I have loved getting to write about a variety of topics. Thank you to all the writers; working with you has been a joy. Thank you to Mr. Raffety, Ms. Goist, and Ms. Moore for your tremendous support. The Cupola could not be possible without you all. I am so excited to see what the future holds for The Cupola.

I would like to give a special thank you to the readers for supporting The Cupola. I hope you have enjoyed reading. Happy summer!


Anika Jaitley ‘23

  Hilltopper Spotlight

Mr. Raffety Interview
Anika Jaitley '23

Several weeks ago, the Elgin Academy community was notified that College Counselor, Upper School history teacher, and Cupola advisor, Mr. Raffety, would not be returning for the 2023-24 school year. Mr. Raffety has accepted a position as the Director of College Counseling at the Putney School in Vermont. All those who have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Raffety know of his dedication to his students inside and outside of college counseling as well as his love for teaching history. He is someone who is always ready for a conversation with a student and someone who is willing to stop what he is doing to answer a question about the college process. Having worked closely with Mr. Raffety for several years, The Cupola staff sought to interview him for the student newspaper that he has advised since 2016. This article is based entirely upon this interview, which truly shows Mr. Raffety’s commitment to his students. 

When asked what his favorite moment during his time EA was, Mr. Raffety answered, “There’s a million things I could say to answer this question. I’ll go with the first two things that came to mind. I got asked to be the baccalaureate speaker in 2017, and I gave a sort of goofy, fun speech about college. I started … with a stream of consciousness by stating every term or phrase that could possibly be associated with college counseling; [for example,] demonstrated interest, SAT, ACT, AP, [etc.] [I told the audience,] ‘now that we’ve gotten through that, let me give you some actual advice about what to do while you’re at college.’” He reflected, “I spend so much time helping kids figure out the admissions process, so it was fun to give [those students] actual advice about what to do while at college.”

Mr. Raffety then shared his second favorite moment at EA: “In 2020, I gave a speech at graduation about my grandfather [growing up] in the Great Depression and the … idiosyncrasies he had as a result that I thought might be the case going through Covid.” He finished by noting, “I was honored to give both those speeches … In reality, if I really thought about [my favorite moment at EA], it’s probably some small moment that happened in the classroom or in my office, [perhaps] seeing the joy that a student had when getting into a certain college. There’s been a lot of [moments] like that.”

When asked what he would miss most about EA, without hesitating, Mr. Raffety responded, “When this place is at its best, the relationship with faculty and students is definitely what I’ll miss most.” He also explained, “I don’t know whether I’m gonna be teaching history again … so obviously, I’ll miss teaching history, [especially to] Elgin Academy students, given that I got to teach … freshmen, sophomores, and juniors [throughout my time at EA].”

Mr. Raffety also discussed his role as a teacher on the Hilltop. His favorite class to teach is “ultimately, AP U.S. History, [especially since] I focused on U.S. history as an undergraduate. The first class I ever taught was U.S. history. [However,] I did really enjoy teaching World Cultures I, and some days… I miss teaching about the Persian empire or the Mongolians, or Alexander the Great. I don’t really get to talk to many people about ancient history anymore, and it’s my secondary specialty, so I do miss that.” He detailed his favorite unit to teach in AP U.S. history: “I love teaching about the 1830s, the Jacksonian era, the Texas war for independence, the Nat Turner revolt … I think that that is a real pivotal time in U.S. history that gets easily overlooked, [especially since it’s after] the American Revolution [but before] the Civil War. The 1830s, in some ways, certainly not for women or non-white men, [is when] America’s starting to get a little more democratic. Non-land-owning men are now able to vote in most states. [At the same time,] there’s a lot going on with Native Americans, not in a particularly good way, with the Trail of Tears. There’s so much from that decade that … shapes the country.”

Mr. Raffety also reflected on his time as an advisor to The Cupola: “I want to talk for a moment about the second year [of The Cupola] when Sharene Gould Dulabaum ‘18 and Caitlin Sharma ‘18 took over. The Cupola [had recently been] resurrected in the 2016-17 school year, but looked like it was going to fall apart after that first year. [However,] Sharene and Caitlin [completely took charge] and editions began going out every month … [Both students] had a real interest in journalism and used The Cupola to develop their craft. Without them, I’m not sure The Cupola would have continued to this day.” Mr. Raffety then pointed out The Cupola’s evolution since then: “There were print copies when The Cupola [first started], and now it’s all obviously online. There’s been times when the publication has focused more on the community, other times when the focus has been on what’s happening in the outside [world], and sometimes a little bit of both. It’s been interesting to see the development all the way to the current layout. ” He concluded by giving shoutouts to editors Muskaan Siddiqui ‘19, Caelin Leahy ‘20, Hareem Rauf ‘21, Sophie Shanae Gould Dulabaum ‘22, Brianna Suchyta ‘22, and Anika Jaitley ‘23.

Having had Mr. Raffety as an AP U.S. History teacher, a J-Term teacher, college counselor, and Cupola advisor, I have learned about Mr. Raffety’s love for comic books. He shared that his “all time favorite [character] is Colossus, who is one of the X-Men. He is this Russian mutant who can turn into steel. He was my favorite character going back to when I was in second grade, and he’s still my favorite. When I was eight, seeing a dude who could turn into steel was just really cool, and I still think it’s really cool.” Mr. Raffety gave out some honorable mentions: “Wolverine, Storm… You’ll notice that a lot of these characters are X-Men, and that’s not fashion anymore, [even though] back in the 80s and 90s, the X-Men ruled the world [of comics], and the Avengers was a title that almost got canceled. I do like the Avengers too … but Colossus would be my absolute favorite comic book character.”

Finally, Mr. Raffety shared some college advice for students: “Take professors, not classes. You won’t necessarily be able to do this [in the] first semester of freshman year, and obviously there’s some classes you have to take … but when you’re figuring out courses for your major or other course requirements or [electives], the best thing to do is to find out about the professors. Find out how interesting they are, how much they care, whether they really develop relationships with undergraduates … Focus on the professor, not the title of the class.”

It has been an honor to have been Mr. Raffety’s student. He has positively impacted the lives of countless students during his ten years at Elgin Academy. On behalf of the EA community, I would like to thank Mr. Raffety and wish him all the best for the future.

  On The Hilltop

Senior College Commitments
Kyle Saurer '23

As the year ends, we start to say goodbye not just to the faculty that will not be returning but also to the senior class who will be graduating from the Hilltop shortly. At this point, the entire class has decided where they will attend school next year. Many know as well what they intend to study. I seek to lay out these plans below.

Audri Ajinth plans to attend Colby College in Waterville, ME, and study Psychology.

Lilly Bundrant plans to attend Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, and study Communications.

Julie Chen plans to attend New York University in New York, NY, and study Art or Art Education.

Angelo Echols plans to attend Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and study Computer Science.

Olivia Gouge plans to attend Illinois State University in Normal, IL and is undecided about her studies.

Shen Groppel plans to attend Iowa University in Iowa City, IA, and study Sports Management.

Jason Hare plans to attend Miami University in Oxford, OH, and study Finance Entrepreneurship and Accounting.

AJ Ireland plans to attend Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA, and study Computer Science.

Anika Jaitley plans to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and study Computer Science.

Jordan Knight plans to attend High Point University in High Point, NC, and study Criminal Justice.

Noelle Lanton plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, and study Health Sciences.

Clayton Martines plans to attend Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, and study Computer Science with a focus on Cybersecurity.

Annie Matusiak plans to attend Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI, and study Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Will Padula plans to attend Beloit College in Beloit, WI, and study Business.

Sameer Rauf plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI, and study Economics.

Kyle Saurer plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, play Division 1 volleyball, and study Political Science with a Legal Emphasis

Liam Shackleton plans to attend Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, play baseball, and study Data Science.

Hisham Shirazi plans to attend Loyola University-Chicago in Chicago, IL, and study Economics on the Pre-Med track.

Olivia Smiley plans to attend Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and study Nursing.

Gary Wang plans to attend the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, and study Data Science.

Amity Wittmeyer plans to attend DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and study Creative Writing.

Percy Wu plans to attend the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and study Architecture.

Alyssa Yost plans to attend the University of Denver,in Denver, CO, and study Sports Psychology.

  Clubs & Activities

Reflecting on the 2022-23 Scholastic Bowl Season
Gary Wang '23

As the club president, varsity captain, and reporter for the EA Scholastic Bowl program, I experienced a very eventful final Scholastic Bowl season. I am grateful for the school’s Scholastic Bowl program. I would like to thank my coaches, teachers, friends, and family for their support in the last two years of this journey. With you guys, we achieved what we did.

Scholastic Bowl Team at Nationals

Let me be straightforward, this year’s program was not what I expected. Picking up only two wins in the Nationals for both teams at the end of the season was not a good “retirement gift” for me, and the 21-26 varsity record was not what we wanted. However, I am incredibly proud of everyone in the program this year for committing to and being patient with the team. I can see many positives in EA’s Scholastic Bowl program; for example, because most players are underclassmen, I am confident that next year's team will be an exceptionally strong competitor.

As an individual, I am an all-star player and moderator in the NAQT China season. I made the all-tournament team at Rockford and received the All-Sectional honor. I knew I belonged to this game the second I understood Scholastic Bowl. No one could question my commitment and dedication to the program. As I enter the University of Rochester this fall, I plan to continue my Scholastic Bowl journey there. Scholastic Bowl has helped me grow as a student. It has made me fulfill my passion for learning in class and my eagerness to compete for the school. It substantially helped my college application process.

I love you all.

  EA Athletics

Boys’ Volleyball: Success After Success
Hisham Shirazi '23

Before discussing the incredible success and accolades of our inaugural Elgin Academy boys volleyball team, I want to preface this article by thanking all the readers for reading my articles. I have contributed pieces for The Cupola for two years and have greatly enjoyed my time in this publication. The expression of ideas through writing is something that I treasure immensely, and I have had the privilege to write for a fantastic Elgin Academy audience. With that being said, I wish the upcoming newspaper staff the best, and I am so excited to see what insightful ideas they come up with while I begin my college career. Once again, thank you all so much for reading my articles.

Bump, set spike! EA Boys’ Volleyball has kicked off its season with quite a bang. Although the team is new, many players already have club experience. Aariyen Singh ‘24, a 6'5" Middle, has played with Pipeline Volleyball, and he has amassed a total of 36 blocks. Kaden Saurer ‘24, a 6'7" Opposite, has a ridiculous 366 kills to his name. He plays for Sports Performance Volleyball Club. AJ Ireland ‘23, a 6'3" Opposite, has an impressive eighteen serving aces. He also plays for Sports Performance Volleyball Club. Lastly, Kyle Saurer ‘23, a 6'9" Setter, has a whopping 69 total blocks, 179 total kills, and 455 assists. Saurer has also committed to the Division 1 volleyball team of BYU. All the other players on the team are inexperienced; many of them had never even touched a volleyball before this season. I am, in fact, one of those players alongside Jason Hare ‘23, Sameer Rauf ‘23, Liam Shackleton ‘23, Jack Guyett ‘26, and AJ Murillo ‘26. However, the team holds its own, and we have a winning record of 23-6. I have loved seeing everything our team has accomplished. Thank you for coming out to support us!

Boys' Baseball Recap
Eesha Peddhapati '24

Congratulations to the EA baseball team for playing well so far this season. Even though there are a limited number of students on the team, the athletes have worked hard to create a successful season. The team consists of Liam Shackleton (12), Ryan Zonts (11), Tayten Wilder (11), Barrett Wilcox (11), Angelo Novelli (11), Brayden Collins-Langfield (10), Danny Shackleton (10), Blake Dotson (9), and AJ Murillo (9). On some occasions, there have been a few absences on game days so thank you to Kyle Saurer (12), Kaden Saurer (11), Rahul Gowda (11), and Aari Singh (11) for stepping up to join the team for a game day! While balancing school and playing a full-season sport is challenging, the team has prospered and done EA proud!

  Arts & Entertainment

Amity Wittmeyer '23







What is the duplicity of a woman’s stare?

Each gaze, aghast and profound like a spector

That which speaks words both cruel and fair

Drips to feed others' hearts that sweet or bitter nectar

A spot, a light this day’s dawn does wade

A new luminance that prolongs her look

A painting ready stands, sealed and made

To encompass the present mood she took

If those sights could be but simply said

One with love could learn easily to refrain

Of ruined words that bring broken thoughts to wed

Leading to ne’er seeing her sweet inverse face again

Thus, read not the words spoken so true

But the eyes which won’t make her feelings askew

The Cupola Staff

Anika Jaitley '23

Priyanka Bhogaraju '24

Eesha Peddhapati '24

Kyle Saurer '23

Hisham Shirazi '23

Gary Wang '23

Amity Wittmeyer '23

Alyssa Yost '23

Contact The Cupola staff at