Skip links

Creative events and traditions from top boarding schools

Why is a Boarding Residence on the list of the best boarding schools in a country? What makes a young person talk with fondness of their Boarding experience long after they leave? What are parents searching for in the best boarding school?

The creators of “The 50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S.” list andThe 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools in America (thebestschools. org) list know what to highlight in their short, snappy statements describing each of the chosen star Residences.

We can catch a glimpse of many of the unique and creative events and traditions that make these Residences stand out above others and have students who can’t wait to get back each Term.

Life centers around the residential community, even for day students. Every weekend, activities are planned for students, from athletic events to visits to restaurants and places of interest. On two mornings a week, students are required to attend chapel, but there are several chapel services during the week which students can choose to attend if they wish. Qualified school counselors cover topics important to young people on their path to adulthood. As part of a safe environment, health services are provided on campus with professional nurses and counselors.(St Mark’s Episcopal School, Massachusetts)

Not only do all of the students live on campus, but all of the faculty do, too, which works to promote a close, spirited campus community. The community also begins four days of the week with chapel services. In order to ease the transition to campus life, each new student is assigned a “big brother” or “big sister.”

A faculty member shepherds students into the house each night and plans the fun activities for the house. The plans for the weekend are sponsored by a club, group, or campus house. Students can take a shuttle into town to shop or to eat at a local restaurant.

There are athletic events, cookouts, bonfires, dances, variety shows, and movies. There are also clubs to appeal to all student interests, including Dancers with Attitude, Investment Club, the Magic Club, Sailing Society, a school newspaper (The Pelican), and the Climbing Club. (St Paul’s School, New Hampshire)

One of the core elements of life at Westminster are the family-style dinners where students are assigned to a table for twoweek rotations with faculty families. Unique to this school is the Visiting Poets program, during which nationally lauded poets take up temporary residence on the campus, address the student body, and visit classes. (Westminster School, Connecticut)

At first students are paired with another person in a residential room. After the first semester, students can choose their roommates. Each dorm has a common room with television, DVD player, ping pong tables, a pool table, and a microwave. On Thursdays after chapel, a formal dinner is held for community enrichment. (Kent School, Connecticut)

There are no dormitories. Students live in houses with comfortable home-like conditions: bedroom suites, wi-fi, a game room, a kitchen, and private bathrooms. Each residence has full-time house parents who have private lodgings, but share common areas with the boarding students. They supervise the academic progress of the students in the house and arrange for tutoring if needed. They also plan weekend activities that take place off campus. (Brook Hill School Texas)

Nearly 90% of students live on campus, which naturally contributes to a strong campus community along with Formal Dinners four nights a week and seven-day-long camping trips each semester. (The Thacher School, California)

Freshmen are required to take a course in mindfulness during the first nine weeks,… In addition to participating in various traditions, the entire campus community joins in an allschool read each year.(Middlesex School, Massachussets)

A boarding school is a thriving community of scholars, athletes, and artists. It’s common for faculty, staff, and their families to live right on campus and serve in coaching or advising capacities. All of this truly makes the boarding school a student’s home away from home.

For an ideal boarding school experience, the majority of the kids in class with you should also be the kids in the dorm with you, at chapel with you, and hanging out on the weekends with you. (“The 50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S.”)

Community service
However, we also looked for schools that take a proactive approach to whole person development. There is hard work to be done out there in the wide world, and we appreciate schools that teach students to value hard work, both in and out of the classroom setting.

Community service, chores, jobs—all of these contribute to instilling a work ethic.(http:// schools-in-us/)

Along with the all-boarding requirement, family-style meals during the week (where students take turns waiting tables) help ensure a close-knit community on campus. St. Andrew’s requires chores of students (which are usually in the student’s dorm and rotate regularly).

Seventy percent of students participate in some kind of community service, which ranges from helping physically challenged students to swim in the pool, to raising funds to assist their sister school in South Africa. (St Andrew’s School, Delaware)

Several opportunities for community service are provided, including blood drives, MLK Day, and Big Brothers and Sisters. (St Georges School, Rhode Island)

Although not strictly required, nearly all students participate in community service projects. Students tutor elementary students, participate in walks/runs benefiting a particular charity, work at an assisted living center, and take part in many other projects to benefit children, the hungry, the elderly, and the poor.

The school offers several club activities for both day and boarding students, including a Visual Arts Club, a Model U.N., a student newspaper and yearbook, Mock Trials, and a drama club, to name but a few. (The Pennington School, New Jersey)

Students in the tech service group volunteer their time for theater performances, chapel, concerts, and other assemblies. The student council is made up of representatives and officers from each class. Each year they choose an international mission project and students can apply to be ambassadors for St. Croix, speaking on St. Croix’s behalf at grade schools and churches, as well as providing tours for prospective students and their families. (St Croix Lutheran School, Minnesota)

Each student must complete 10 hours of community service during his or her Fourth year, and there are many student-led activities on campus that focus on charitable causes. (Portsmouth Abbey School, Rhode Island) Every new student is greeted by a big brother or big sister from the senior class. (St James School, Maryland)

C.O.R.E.—which stands for “Challenge of Required Experience”—is the program through which students have the opportunity to engage in community service programs. They must complete five hours of community service per year, and it is hoped that they voluntarily go beyond the minimum requirement. There is also a Work Program and students complete jobs on campus that range from peer tutoring to maintenance and cleaning chores. (Church Farm School, Pennsylvania)

The community service requirement—one that is common among boarding schools— differs at Asheville in that students complete 40 hours of service for one organization and submit an essay about that experience to the headmaster. (Asheville School, North Carolina)

Special events
There are weekends where students are required to be on campus for special events such as the Parents Weekend, the Pumpkin Festival, and Room Change Weekend. All new students come to school in the fall with an experienced Olney student assigned as their roommate.In the spring all students are required to change roommates.

Every weekend there is one community activity such as a dance, a guest speaker, a haunted house, or a specially prepared dinner from another culture. (Olney Friends School, Ohio)

At the beginning of each year, seniors go on a survival trip of canoeing and camping. Activities include excursions into town to shop or bowl, as well as trips to the beach. Students go on hiking and camping trips and roast hot dogs and marshmallows around the campfire. Activities also include snow tubing, swimming, open gym night, and community outreach.

There are several clubs and activities in which students can participate, including yearbook, drama productions, study groups, a school newspaper, and a running club which included participation in a 5K Trail Run. (Pine Tree Academy, Maine)

A Cirque program is available, where students perform stories through acrobatics, clowning, and dance. The Cirque program began 14 years ago and continues to excel and grow, with some of the choreography designed by veteran student performers. (Rabun Gap, Georgia)

If you’ve ever seen Dead Poets Society, you’ve seen the campus of St. Andrew’s in Middletown, Delaware—the movie was filmed almost entirely on school grounds. Life at St. Andrew’s begins with a school-wide square dance. While some students initially express apprehension about an activity that may be completely unknown to them, since no one knows the steps, the activity turns into one of complete merriment, serving to establish a bond among students that they will carry throughout the school year. (St Andrew’s School, Delaware)

After school and on weekends, the recreation staff provides activities for all interests, from pool parties, movie nights and college tours to shopping trips, amusement park excursions and community service events. Bible Studies, discipleship groups and twice-weekly chapel services enhance the Academy’s mission: “to educate young men and women within a nurturing community based on Christian values.”( San Marcos Academy, Texas)

During the weekends, students have (samesex) slumber parties or sleep in another dorm with friends. Students are allowed to stay up later and a brunch is served on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. The school farm, which has over 200 animals, grows organic food. Students learn experientially by participating in farm activities; after students are fed, what is left is sold or donated. (Scattergood Friends School. Iowa)

All students are required to participate in an afternoon program in sports, the arts, or community service. There is an abundance of activities to choose from, including sailing, dance, squash, choir, and theatrical productions, as well as many others.

International students are accepted and play an important role in the personality of the school, participating in school activities and sharing their cultures with others. (Christchurch School, Virginia)

In the senior year, all young men go on a three-day, off-campus camping trip before school starts, where they learn to communicate and work together.

Students are challenged physically as well as intellectually through activities such as mountain hiking and biking, fishing, skiing, sailing, golfing, archery, canoeing, camping, rock climbing, and many others. Students are also required to attend a certain number of musical and theatrical performances, art openings, and food festivals offered on campus, so that they have a well-rounded exposure to different cultural activities. (Church Farm School, Pennsylvania)

In addition to academics, students participate in an arts-based program two nights a week and must satisfy six jobs during their stay— lunch, dinner, barn crew, dish crew, substitute, and land-use activities—which helps instill in them a different kind of work ethic not generally found in the classroom. (Phillips Academy, Massachusetts)

Western Reserve Academy, Ohio, prides itself on long-standing traditions and is one of the only boarding schools that still requires students to adhere to a strict, formal dress code. Other traditions include Friday study breaks that celebrate the coming of the weekend and Wednesday sit-down, family-style lunches with the entire faculty.

They also receive formal leadership training via themed seminars each year; topics include decision- making, personal awareness, teamwork, problem-solving, and strategic planning. (Miss Porter’s School, Connecticut)

CHEAT SHEET: What You Should Know About Sydney’s Top Private Schools http:// should-know-about-sydneys-top-privateschools- 2013-10?r=US&IR=T

Leave a comment