Newly-elected Tunstall Student Council President Frank Mercer IV '21 considers Norfolk Academy to be a proud family tradition, one that began when his father enrolled in 1971.
His father, Frank Mercer '76, helped integrate Norfolk Academy, as he followed his good friend, Dr. Jesse Anderson III '75, in joining the student body; they were the first two Black students at the school. Nearly 45 years later, Frank's sister Francesca graduated in 2015.
Frank himself was a student at NA from first grade until eighth, when he departed for boarding school at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Returning to Norfolk Academy this year amid a pandemic, after spending three formative years elsewhere, could have felt disconcerting and strange. Instead, he said, it has been like “coming home again."
“I am struck by the ease at which I was able to fall back into the community," he said. “How welcoming and helpful the faculty have been; how open and inclusive the student body. It has been much more than I had imagined. I realize now, more than ever, how special this place really is. It is as if I never left."
That Bulldog embrace was demonstrated by his election to one of the school's top leadership positions this fall.
The unusual tenor of the times was apparent in the induction ceremony: Each student council executive and representative stepped to the podium in Johnson Theater for a brief introduction, maintaining social distancing from one another. The entire event, which was beamed into the classrooms via Zoom, came at the end of Spirit Week for Homecoming 2020, which has had to operate largely in the virtual realm, with social media photo contests and Zoom gatherings for alumni.
The new TSC president noted that we are just beginning a “most unimaginable year," one that was aptly named by the headmaster as the Year of Courage. He quoted Maya Angelou, who observed that “without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue consistently," and said that everyone would need to demonstrate that trait in order to be "pioneers in this new frontier."
His vision for the school year, he said, is to foster “an engaging and inclusive community that remains accessible to all of you." He invited students to participate in the Tunstall Student Council's open forums, saying, “We will listen to your concerns and suggestions, and we will act as responsible heirs to the legacy of those who came before us."
The members of the Tunstall Student Council are as follows:
Frank Mercer '21 - Executive President
Franklin Wetmore '21 - Executive Vice President
Olivia Galiotos '22 - Executive Secretary
Rebecca Schill '23 - Executive Treasurer
Matt Wetmore '21 - Senior Class President
Grayson Fiveash '21 - Senior Class Vice President
Molly Ruffin '21 - Senior Class Secretary
Taylor Fox '21 - Senior Class Treasurer
Harrison Summers '21 - Senior Class Class Representative
Eliza Blythe '22 - Junior Class President
Gavin Goss '22 - Junior Class Vice President
Rachel Thetford '22 - Junior Class Secretary
Foster Kimple '22 - Junior Class Treasurer
Emma Hugo '22 - Junior Class Representative
Rylan Goss '23 - Sophomore Class President
Bennett Yue '23 - Sophomore Class Vice President
Mackenzie Peterson '23 - Sophomore Class Treasurer
Bella Burr '23 - Sophomore Class Secretary
Lila Rivera '23 - Sophomore Class Representative