The Tonight Show: A Highlight of the Ramaz Open House


The Open House is Ramaz’s most important recruitment event. The evening acts as an opportunity to share our school’s mission statement, as well as to showcase how those ideals are expressed throughout the building on a day-to-day basis. Short lessons on catchy subjects presented by our outstanding faculty members allow visitors to experience life inside the classrooms of Ramaz. Each session demonstrates the advanced level of learning one can expect at Ramaz, as well as the charisma and professionalism of our school’s faculty body. It would be surprising if attendees leave the evening with anything less than a strong and positive impression of what a student can expect to accomplish at Ramaz.

If one assumes that the goal of the Open House is to increase enrollment in the incoming class, then the most important part of evening was without a doubt “The Tonight Show,” a student-driven presentation in which current students describe what Ramaz is really like. It is during this show that current eighth-graders can begin to truly picture themselves at Ramaz. Indeed, it’s doubtful that these prospective applicants sit through a mock biology lesson and dream of being a Ramaz freshman studying plant cells. When real-life Ramaz students get on stage and talk about their experience, however, these kids finally begin to see what Ramaz truly has to offer from a student perspective. It was during “The Tonight Show” that the attending eighth graders began to see themselves playing the drums in Ramaz’s band, laying out pages for Panorama, and running for a G.O. position.

The majority of the show is funny and entertaining. Rabbi Slomnicki, who hosts the show, invites Ramaz students from all walks of life to take center stage and explain what they “do” at Ramaz. Student politicians, athletes, and journalists gather on stage to discuss how they have spent their time at Ramaz, allowing eighth graders to envision who they want to become in high school. This year’s future freshmen laughed hysterically at a dance-off between Becky Tauber ’19 and David Rahabi ’19, who were brave enough to get on stage and show that Ramaz students know how to have fun and not take themselves too seriously. Violet Alaham ’19 blew the audience away with her inspirational passion for chesed and dedication to her participation in Ramaz’s “Witness Theater” program. Varsity athletes took on Rabbi Slomnicki in a mini-hoop shooting contest, entertaining clips of Ramaz’s recent “election day fair” were shown, and many students leaders shared their perspectives on what makes Ramaz the “best school ever.”  

More so than any other part of the evening, “The Tonight Show” expressed the humanity of the school’s student body and showed that Ramaz is not just a school of overachievers. Over the years, Ramaz has earned a reputation as a place where the stakes are high and the workload is enormous. The purpose of “The Tonight Show” was to eradicate that stigma, and in my opinion, it accomplished that goal.

After Rabbi Slomnicki finished interviewing the students, the guitar ensemble played Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” As the performance progressed, many students began to timidly clap their hands and hum the melody. By the end of the song, all nerves in the room had vanished. The eighth graders began singing at the top of their lungs and even waved their iPhone flashlights as if they were at a real concert.     

In this day in age, our parents are more concerned with our happiness than ever. With that fact in mind, “The Tonight Show” was certainly an ingenious way to sell Ramaz as a school that values fun in addition to academic rigor. By entertaining the kids and presenting our school as a fun place, Ramaz successfully engaged a majority of the eighth graders in attendance at the Open House.

Walking out of the building that night, I experienced a moment of satisfaction when I overheard a prospective applicant approve of “The Tonight Show” to his parent. “That was cool,” he said, “I want to go here. I felt like I was watching SNL!”