Tag Archives: Clubs and Activities

Weekend Boarder Life

2017-02-13-25

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

2017-03-20-45

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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Filed under dorm life, Student Work, Students, The Deans' Office

How many clubs is too many clubs?

2016-09-05-77

by Eden McEwen ‘17

Who remembers club fair? The throngs of underclassmen and overeager club leaders put on the show of a festival, offering everything from mini donuts to fun sized candies to samosas as not so subtle bribes for student emails and half hearted pledges of  interest. The Fitness and Athletic Center last September was stuffed with dreamy promises of a club filled future. What happened to those promises?

The first weeks of a club are glorious. As a long time club leader I can tell you 30+ people at a meeting feels like an early Christmas. But by Christmas, the email lists or Outlook group members dwindle from plenty to enough to depressing. That is just the number of those willing to receive the weekly emails, never mind who actually bothers to show up.

Why does every club season have such a drop off? And why, every fall, do two dozen clubs pop back up just to die before November? It seems that we have too many clubs and too few club survivors. The culture of clubs at George School follows a steep wave of interest, but there must be a secret to those who survive the winter.

The long lasting clubs are easy to name. Argo, JSA, MUN, Body Project, UMOJA, Open Doors, Goldfish, and Java. They fulfill the basic needs of club culture, hitting on the basic interests of George School students. Other clubs have been born and died all the while, or existed as a “why not” instead of a “must have.” They are harder to name, as they come up only as we laugh at the yearbook page in May. Anyone remember PRO, or maybe Puzzle club? Terra, Beatbox Club, Medical club, or Young Writers? They have come and gone, but existed for the hot second long enough to be featured in an decently size club photo taken in late October.

If you look at any population graph, there is always a carrying capacity, an asymptote that represents the line the population will always return to when it crosses over. Let us break it down. Let us talk rabbits.

Spring sees a huge spike in the cotton-tailed population, but the environment they are in can’t sustain such rapid growth. There are only so many holes to live in and so much grass to eat, and with the introduction of predators the population is forced back to a stable carrying capacity.

Clubs can be seen to operate the same way. There are only so many places we can comfortably congregate in, only so many days of the week, only so many times.

We only have four days in our club-week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday  (Friday only sometimes, for those leaders who are daring and believe in their club members’ loyalty). There is only a limited number of meeting places, too. For large clubs, a classroom does not cut it, and there are not many community spaces focused enough for the agenda of a club.

But what kills off clubs the fastest are the predators. Sports games, night classes, and the relentless struggles of stressed-out, overloaded students kill club attendance like the plague. No one is going to tell their teacher they could not study because they had to go to Badminton Club; no coach is going to take Wednesday night Improv as an excuse out of a varsity tournament.

So what happens to the club community? Is it possible that the number of clubs George school allows shoots the clubs themselves in the foot, stretching the student body too thin to keep any one of them alive?

There have been attempts to curb the club population. A few years ago, Student Council had proposals up for different kinds of clubs, downgrading some to interest groups and raising the prestige of others. There was outrage, there was apathy, and ultimately the plan fell through. As of now, with all of the things George School demands of students, club participation is the first sacrifice.

Our club population will forever fluctuate, you can tell by looking through past yearbooks. Take a look at the Club Fair week one, and then at the Community News postings by the last month of the year, and you can see the decimation. Is there a way to build a healthier club system that will get approval of Student Council members?

Until something in the culture of clubs changes, it does not seem likely that we will have any more long term clubs, or any fewer short-term start up clubs. The constraints of George School keep our outside gatherings at a steady carrying capacity. Living the life of a struggling club’s leader is heartbreaking. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that the behemoth clubs of 30+ attendees could ever fail.

In the long run, far longer than any of our matriculation here, clubs will maintain themselves according to the student body’s interests.

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

Step is Life

Our George School Ambassadors have been asked to write about their favorite club on campus. Autumn ’16, shares why she loves the R&B Step Team. 

My parents have always told me that the quality of a product is only as good as the work that you put in. 

Hello World!

My favorite club is less of a club and more of a team. The step team is a group I’ve been a member of since freshmen year. I fell in love because of the great connections I made with  teammates and the inspiring motivation I felt from my captain during the first year. After two years of hard work and dedication I am now the captain! The step team meets on Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. There are twenty-four girls (although the team is open to boys and girls, I think the guys are too intimidated to join us). I guess when it comes to step at GS we go back to our childhood days when guys believed girls had cooties and they were too scared to try out. I don’t blame them, we’re pretty awesome.
Step has its roots in the South African mines where making sounds with one’s body was originally used to replace drums. It is the creation of rhythm and beats using ones body as the instrument. To me, the most important traits required for step are discipline, trust, confidence, and precision/unity. These are the things I try to instill in my team through bonding activities and drills. It may sound militaristic of me but drills are my favorite exercise in step. It reminds me of the movie Cadet Kelly starring Hilary Duff when she was sent away to military school and she became a city girl turned drill master, just like me! Continue reading

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