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Graduation Speaker Is WA Alum, Somaliland School Founder Jonathan Starr '94

Worcester Academy will hold its 183rd Commencement Exercises on Friday, June 2, at 11 a.m., with 136 graduating students.  The graduation ceremony will be held outside on the Quad on the Academy’s historic campus at 81 Providence Street (in the event of rain, the ceremony will be held inside Daniels Gymnasium).  A reception will follow the presentation of diplomas.

The commencement speaker will be Worcester native Jonathan Starr, a millionaire former hedge fund manager and Worcester Academy alumnus, who founded a top boarding school in Africa’s remote Somaliland region in 2009.  Many of Starr’s students have gone on to attend America’s best colleges and universities after having first attended Worcester Academy and other top U.S. independent schools.

His book, “It Take a School,” recounts his efforts to found the Abaarso School of Science and Technology in an armed compound while working to overcome profound cultural differences. Among his successes was the placement of his first students in America—at Worcester Academy—prior to their enrolling at schools such as MIT and Grinnell.

On April 30, Mr. Starr was featured in an in-depth interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper. Additional media outlets that have covered his success story recently are CNN, The New York Times, Bloomberg Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe, to name a few.

Also speaking will be Valedictorian Samuel Hatem of Northboro and Salutatorian Matthew Adiletta of Bolton.

Jonathan Starr is a 1994 graduate of Worcester Academy. He authored It Takes A School, published by Macmillan Henry Holt in February 2017. It tells the story of Jonathan’s founding and heading the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, a non-profit educational organization in Somaliland. Abaarso School has broken a decades long drought in Somali education with unprecedented success, including placing students at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, and MIT. In total, the school has sent nearly 100 students to continue their education globally. Abaarso’s success has been covered by CBS’s 60 Minutes, MSBNC’s Morning Joe, Bloomberg Business Week, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBC’s The Current, and the BBC.  Jonathan has spoken at The World Bank, The Nantucket Project, Pitcairn, and several school campuses. From 2004-2008, Jonathan founded and led Flagg Street Capital, a private investment firm that managed $170 million of investor assets. Prior to Flagg Street, Jonathan worked as an Analyst at SAB Capital and at Blavin and Company, both well respected private investment firms. His career started as a research associate within the Taxable Bond Division at Fidelity Investments. In addition to his full-time professional responsibilities, Jonathan sat on the Board of Directors of Pomeroy IT Solutions, a publicly traded U.S. information technology company generating approximately $500 million of annual sales. Jonathan’s board responsibilities included acting as a member of the Audit Committee, the Advisory Committee, and the Special Committee (strategic alternatives) of Pomeroy. Jonathan graduated from Emory University, where he received a B.A. summa cum laude in economics and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Worcester Academy, founded in 1834, is an independent co-ed day and boarding school for grades 6 to 12 and postgraduates. Our urban setting, diverse community, and innovative curriculum provide each student with unique opportunities for self-discovery, academic achievement, and personal empowerment. Visit

For more information, contact Neil Isakson, director of external communications, at 508-754-5302 x135, or e-mail

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