WJA Celebrates 10 Years with a Sold Out Gala!
On March 2nd, the Washington Jesuit Academy commemorated its 10th anniversary with a sold out gala. Thanks to the leadership of gala Co-Chairs, Scott & Courtney Pastrick and William & Marla Magner, more than 500 people came together to celebrate the mission, values, and success of WJA.
“We wanted everyone in the room to not only feel the mission of the Academy," commented Courtney Pastrick, "but also to feel thanked and honored for being a part of such an incredible little school that’s making a huge difference in the lives of so many."
In a moving speech, WJA alum Airton Kamdem (WJA '08), spoke candidly about the challenges of emigrating to US from Cameroon and the importance of WJA in his incredible transformation; "The first two schools I attended could not support an immigrant. The students and teachers were impatient with me because I did not speak English. So I fell behind academically and socially... It feels like a dream now but the day I was accepted (to WJA) was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I now realize that without WJA, my being here tonight would not be possible."
Other highlights of the evening included uplifting words from Bill Whitaker, WJA's founding President, who reflected on the beginning of the Academy - specifically addressing that there were so many who doubted that WJA would last - and then announced officially that the Academy would be expanding to add a 5th grade this fall. Whitaker's announcement was met with a standing ovation and cheers throughout the Italian Embassy. Following this announcement guests were moved to tears by Tonye Ikoli (WJA 8th grader), and CJ Gaffney, teacher and Director of Graduate Placement, who sang "I Believe I Can Fly" the very sentiment of which, was felt throughout the gala!