Tag Archives: boarding school life

A Special Community

by David Mark ’18

My favorite part of George School is our community. I remember coming here freshman year inexperienced and scared for what would come. As soon as I walked into Campbell I felt welcomed and knew that I would be successful here. I was used to being away from home already as I went to a boarding school before, but George school is a place unlike any I’ve ever known.

The community and people are the part that makes up George School and sets it apart from the rest. The feeling you get when you walk into a room full of strangers is usually anxiety and fear, but here when you walk into a room you can’t wait to meet everyone and share your story. Everyone here makes you feel very welcome and wants to get to know the real you. I was shocked about this because I was used to walking down the streets at home staring straight down or ahead. Now, whenever I’m walking I look up and am greeted with a smile from everyone.

I really appreciate everything about the school because it invites you to be yourself in your truest form. No one judges or criticizes you. If you are sitting by yourself simply reflecting, people will recognize that and acknowledge it. I think that anyone who steps foot on this campus will instantaneously fall in love with everyone and everything here.

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Music Girl

 

by Michelle Tyson ’18

So I find myself at quite a busy place right now. I have studied music for four years at George School and have become known as THE “Music Girl.” It is not against my will, though, do not get me wrong. I love music. I came into George School loving music and will leave pursuing a musical path.

In my opinion, it would be an absurdity for me to not love music fiercely. You can see it on my transcript: I have taken Instrumental Music and IB Music for every year I could take them. I’m also involved in the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County, a nearby youth orchestra which meets just five minutes off of campus. There, I’m the second chair violist for the symphony orchestra of the advanced division. I am a member with Goldfish ‘n Java, our school’s live music club. I’m pretty entrenched in music. Beyond that, though, believe it or not, I find so many more music-making opportunities.

During my Arizona service trip over the summer, George School’s dance teacher, Barb Kibler, happened to be a faculty sponsor for the trip. It was down time in our busy day, and our group was gathered in one room of our house. I decided to share the music that I produce with the group, playing some songs off of my recent album on my speaker. Long story short, Barb heard, and asked if I would collaborate with the dance program this year. I accepted.

Barb and I will work together to choreograph five dances to five of my songs for Dance Eclectic. It is the first project of its kind that Barb has undertaken, and also a big but fulfilling challenge for me.

I do share my music on my social media, and my George School peers have started to take notice. My friend recently asked me to write a score for her film project, and I’m working on that project as well.

Dave Nolan, the instrumental and voice music teacher, is working with me on a solo piece for the spring instrumental concert. Also, the George School Community Choir, which meets each Sunday, will need a violist to perform Mozart’s Requiem with them.

My point? There is a place for everyone at George School. If you are a music nerd, that’s okay. I am too! And it’s a really, really, fun time. To any potential music-makers reading this who are hesitant about their future, I suggest to them: just go for it. This also goes for anyone with a particular passion—from soccer, to politics.

My music experience at George School has been a direct result of my pushing for my own passions to be fulfilled. And that’s an invaluable opportunity that every student finds here at George School.

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Managing Stress

by Aaron Zhao ‘19

Stress plays a major part of every high school student’s life; however, George School is the ideal place to cope with it. As an international student, I have come a great distance from home and am managing the long separation from my family. In the beginning, both physical and emotional feelings impacted me. Nevertheless, organizations and people are here at George School to ensure everyone’s well-being from consultation sessions with faculty members to simply just talking to one of the student members of SAGE (Students Associated for Greater Empathy). At the same time, stress is not consistently a negative emotion or feeling. Oftentimes, just the right amount of stress encourages me to avoid procrastination and learn self-discipline.

George School stimulates the development of individuality through the freedom of learning, not only for boarding students, but for day students as well. Every night I attend the two-hour study hall in Mollie Dodd Anderson Library to complete assignments and study with other students. In addition, term exams can be overwhelming for some students, but at George School there are people at the Learning Center who are always there to assist students with any problems.

From a personal experience, adapting to the George School environment was difficult at first, but becoming acclimated to the workload I slowly developed time management, collaboration skills with groups, individuality, coping abilities, and adaptability.

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You Know You’re a George School Student When:

by Julia Wilson and Grace Clark

1. You get up close and personal with a squirrel.

Rumor has it that one stole a piece of pizza right from a student’s hands.

 

2. You eat Bettye’s cookies more than once a week.

They’re better than your Grandma’s.

 

3. The activity you get most competitive in is playing foursquare.

You are recruited Division 1 foursquare for college.

 

4. You have rolled down South Lawn more than once.

Or maybe you just slid on the Student Council Slip n’ Slide.

 

5. You think some alumni are still students.

They’re always here.

 

6. You religiously follow @GSculinart on Instagram.

Smokin’ Sean can cook up some good fried rice.

 

7. You’re confident that you and your friends are the last people on earth to use a film camera and lab.

But it is so cool, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

8. When you find a “Mind the Light” sticker from 10 years ago on your dorm room light switch.

They are everywhere.

 

9. You don’t “step on the circle” because it’s bad luck.

You also have searched for the steam tunnels and gone ghost hunting in Tate House.

 

10. Either you or one of your friends has dressed up as your teacher for Halloween.

Ralph Lelii and Travis are popular choices.

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Top 10 Ways You Know You’re a George School Student

by Alice Ke ’19

1. You call teachers by their first name!

Hey Kevin! Hey Faith! Relationships with teachers are casual and friendly. You might see them as a teacher or a mentor in the classroom, but they are also there for you as a friend.

2. You’ve sprinted up the hill from the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library to McFeely.

We all dread that long walk from one end of campus to the complete opposite, hopefully your teacher will understand why you are late.

3. You get excited for the games against rival Westtown!

Support our sports teams! Moose Points! Moose Cup! Everyone gets hyped to come out and cheer on our Friends Schools League rival Westtown. The energy is amazing for both the team and the crowd of Cougar crazy fans.

4. You may technically be a day student, but let’s be real, you’re pretty much a boarder since you spend so much time on campus.

Dinner and study hall during the weekdays are staples for most day students. Activities on Fridays and over the weekend are the best of times—ranging from fairs to movies, and Student Council Weekend.

5. You’ve heard everyone talk about the IB program and how it’s so rigorous.

In truth, it’s hard. International Baccalaureate is one of George School’s most renowned programs, and those who choose to do the classes or diploma know that they’re getting into an academically challenging curriculum. Between internal assessments and the IB exams, it is a lot of work, but the recognition and diploma in the end are the ultimate feeling of satisfaction.

6. You’ve witnessed a dance battle happen on Red Square due to a Four Square disagreement.

Four Square gets intense. An iconic George School tradition enjoyed by everyone on campus. Sometimes disagreements break out on who is to blame for the ball going out, or if the ball even did go out. The only way to settle such a brawl is simple: a dance battle.

7. You’ve heard conversations in at least three different languages across campus.

With a wide diversity of international students on campus, you’re bound to hear a foreign language you’ve never heard before and could not fathom understanding. Chances are you can probably pick up phrases from some of these languages from an international friend and feel accomplished!

8. You’ve spent an afternoon relaxing (and possibly napping) on South Lawn.

After a long day, if it’s nice outside, South Lawn is the ultimate spot to unwind and destress on a nice day.

9. STICKY BUNS!

An iconic George School dessert. Sticky buns. The most gooey, delicious treats you’ll find in the dining hall. Bless the days that you see sticky buns waiting for you on the dessert platter.

10. You’ve found a family here.

The sense of community is by far the strongest of the Quaker values (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Equality, Community, Stewardship) that George School embodies. Ranging from students, to faculty, to staff, to pets, and many others, the George School community is one that simply cannot be replicated. It is what makes George School feel like home.

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What is it like to be a Day Student at a Boarding School?

by Andrew Arth ’19

In a word: exceptional. Truly, it is the best of both worlds. As a freshman coming into George School I was worried about the mixing of day students and boarding students, the potential divisions between us, and the differences between our experiences. My first practice of varsity soccer my freshman year, all of these apprehensions went away; immediately, I was greeted by two senior boarders, one from Seoul and one from Los Angeles. It was difficult to be the only freshman on a team composed of mainly upperclassmen, but I soon found comfort in the comradery and brotherhood of the group. We ate meals together, worked out together, did homework together, and just spoke about how our weeks were. This is just one example of my relationships with boarders.

In a much broader sense, being a day student at GS allows for all of the positives of a boarding atmosphere to combine with the comforts of home. GS has a very even balance between boarding and day population (53% boarding, 47% day to be exact) and this creates a very homogenous community in which separations due to race, gender, ethnicity, or where students sleep simply do not exist. I find myself staying on campus for study hall, attending games on the weekends, or participating in various weekend activities that are mainly directed towards boarders. I do not feel out of place; many of my best friends are boarders.

The best part of being a day student is that if I need the comfort of my own bed, a home cooked meal, or just time with my dog, my house is only ten minutes down the road.

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Residential Life

by Vanessa Baker ’19

Living in the dorm has been the best part of my George School experience. Being from Michigan, I was pretty homesick when I first arrived at George School my freshman year, but the dorm staff and my friends made me feel unbelievably comfortable. There are four adults that live in each dorm and there are also four senior prefects who are leaders in the dorm and they help the dorm staff run the dorm.

Both my freshman and sophomore years I formed strong relationships with the seniors that lived with me, particularly the ones on my floor. The seniors had the almost awkward role of older sister while also being an authoritarian, but they were important role models for me while I was an underclassman. I also got to know some of the adults in the community through their role as dorm parents. One of the jokes I’ve laughed the hardest at is one my sophomore dorm head told me one night after check-in. I don’t even remember the joke, all I remember is physically rolling on the ground howling with laughter with another one of my friends.

The best part of living in the dorm, however, is getting to live with my friends—basically a nonstop slumber party. The bonds I’ve formed with the girls in my dorm are most definitely the relationships I’m going to cherish the most when I leave George School, which unfortunately will be sooner rather than later.

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Choosing Boarding School

by Shaina Gonzales ’19

The funny thing is, I never planned boarding school to be my future.

In fact, I didn’t even know it was an option—and even when I did find out halfway through my middle school years, I waved off the very thought of it. Besides, I thought, aren’t boarding schools for kids who want to get away from their families? A thing that only exists in books? A place for bad kids? A place that certain people had the privilege of attending?  I had a limited perspective on boarding school, but nevertheless, I was already dismissing this possibility out of the picture.

Most importantly, boarding school was impossible for me to consider, since I’m an only child of a single mother. My entire life, it’s always been me and my mom, and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her alone for four high school years. She was on the same page with me, until eighth grade, when my high school placement program came into effect. I think the pivotal moment where both of our minds changed was when we listened to an alumni’s parent share her experience with sending her daughter to boarding high school—she was a single parent with an only child, making it instantly relatable for us.

Intrigued, I recall the mother telling her story— the pains of sending her daughter off to a faraway place, having to continue daily life without watching her daughter grow through high school, being a distant figure from her teenaged child. But then, she stated she doesn’t regret the choice she and her daughter made, and would do it all over again. She saw how happy and satisfied her daughter was from attending boarding school. The mother understood that the boarding experience was an experience that benefited her daughter— an experience day schools can’t offer.

I think that personal story was the catalyst for choosing boarding school. I was moved and intrigued by it, but still a little hesitant. In my twelve year old mind, it didn’t matter what I wanted – what mattered was if me and my mom mutually agreed, because we are a team. However, my mom was also gripped by the alumni’s parent experience.

I remember clearly her turning to me, taking my hand, and whispering, “Let’s give this a try.”

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Weekend Boarder Life

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Students build a snowman during a weekend winter snowstorm.

by Bea Feicenbiner ’19

As a boarding student, sometimes I am left wondering what I can do on weekends. Every weekend has a theme, but some have more activities than others. Weekends like Harvest Weekend and Student Council Weekend are jam packed with things to do. All of the weekends can be fun for the students, but some, like Alumni Weekend, have less activities than others.

Of course, my roommate is always there and I have friends in my dorm. On weekends, more often than not, I have a friend sleepover in my room or I sleep in hers. I can walk into Newtown to get some ice cream or go to Starbucks. Sometimes we will walk over to the shopping center across the street and get lunch before running errands to Giant or Rite Aid. Newtown Book and Record has a great variety of entertainment if I need something new. There is a lot to do around town on the weekends.

My personal favorite weekend is Student Council Weekend. SAGE, another club I am a part of, also has a weekend. We do fun activities that include bonding opportunities with members of the community that otherwise you might not have met. Harvest Weekend is super fun, especially for boarders. Day students are invited too, but for domestic boarders who do not get to spend as much time with their family. Carving pumpkins and making buttercream brings people together. For international students, the Harvest Weekend activities might be the first time they are experiencing these things. Other weekends are club affiliated. Umoja Weekend and Footbag Weekend happened not long ago and they both included events that were fun for the whole campus.

There are other things to do instead of weekend activities and day trips to Newtown. The Deans’ office is always open to hang out in and the SAGE room is open Friday and Saturday too. During the warmer months, there is four-square on Red Square and during the colder months, you can borrow sleds from the Deans’ Office and sled down South Lawn. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, the library is open on both Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes dorm parents and prefects will host activities, like tea parties or clothing swaps.

No matter what the weekend is, there is plenty to do, so you should not worry about being bored.

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Filed under A Day in the Life, dorm life, Student Work, Students, The Curious George

Open Doors and Closed Minds: The Problems the Heteronormativity Task Force Addresses

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Eden enjoying a snow day during February 2017.

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Imagine having a best friend opposite in gender to you. Your friend is a boarder but you are a day student. This friend has recently received traumatic news and just wants to lie in bed. You know they need and want to talk to you, but something is stopping you. And it has nothing to do with either you or your friend. Rather, it is George School’s visitation policy. You and your friend are not the same gender and, since the visitation policy is so limited, they cannot spend time in your room. Not even with the door open. What do you do?

That is the question that the Heteronormativity Task Force has been trying to answer.

Heteronormativity. Let us break this word into its two parts. Hetero means “other,” as in opposite gender couples, and “normativity” means what is expected. Together, in respect to sexuality, the word means the normalization of heterosexual relationships. The use of this word has become more prevalent with the rise of the LGBTQ+ movement.

George School, never behind in the area of social progress, began to recognize this term and its effect on the campus and community. Since then, a task force has been created in order to equally normalize all the different sexualities. Every Sunday, about ten people meet to discuss areas where they see heteronormativity on campus and how to change heteronormative policies. Led by Eden McEwen ‘17, the group works hard to brainstorm solutions to all sorts of heteronormative behavior and policies.

The task force was created last year as an initiative by Sam Balka ’16 through Student Council. To date, there are three Student Council Representatives on the task force, along with two returning members who are also on Student Council.

According to Eden, “The Heteronormativity Task Force was created by Student Council to address concerns from the community about the safety and integration of LGBTQ students in the dorms and in the classroom. Last year the task force took strides towards its goals to identify specific places in George School where there are heterosexist biases, to help create a clear LGBTQ policy regarding students in the dorms, and to raise overall conversation in residential and academic life about the preceding issues. The main goal of the task force is to develop a policy for queer students in the dorms that will make George School an overall safer place.”

Some issues the task force is addressing this year are dorm visitation policies and the inclusivity of the curriculum.

The current dorm visitation policy requires that doors must remain open to discourage sexual activity and limit the possibility of pregnancy and the breaking of a major school rule (no sex on campus). Upperclassmen and women are allowed to have members of the opposite gender in their rooms, but, even then, the visitation times are limited. This system conveys a lack of trust to the students and puts those who are friends with someone of the opposite gender in an awkward position.

As for the task force’s focus on curriculum, the English curriculum has little queer literature and the history department tiptoes around major events in the queer community. Additionally, the health curriculum seems to move too fast to properly address different sexualities, orientations, and genders. The Heteronormativity Task Force would like to come up with ways of addressing these issues and, even more importantly, creating a more inclusive and safe space for LGBTQ+ youth.

Next year, the task force will be open to more members of the community without an application process. Additionally, it has been working on outreach lately, collaborating with Open Doors to get a better feel for what changes the community wants to see.

If you have any questions or concerns about heteronormativity, the task force, or life at George School in general, feel free to approach any member  of the task force. Members include Eden, Brooke Angle ’18, Duffy ’18, Samaya Mayes ’18, Ben McCormick ’18, Ben McCormick ’18, Will Street ’18, Kat Stein ‘18,  Jacob Hoopes ’19, Kalani Chen-Hayes ’20, Sidney Gibson ’20, and me, Bea Feichtenbiner ’19.

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