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boarding school dorm roomWe've written a fair amount about boarding school orientation- complete involvement, etc. Today, an article by Jess Zielinski of USA Today (How to survive your first college roommate) and a study out of the University of Michigan reminds us of something worth mentioning from my days as a dean of students.

I've argued- for years- to faculty and students that a primary function of high school and especially boarding school is teaching empathy- learning to put yourself and your mindset in the shoes of others. Understanding perspective and experiences beyond yourself makes possible the negotiation and compromise that are requisite parts for healthy relationships.

As I used to tell my students daily (and continue using several times weekly), "It's all about sharing and playing well with others."

Although the Michigan study looked at college students, the tenets are perfectly applicable to boarding school students.

Two select excerpts from the USA Today piece present sound advice when beginning your new journey. The Michigan study's authors (Psychologists Jennifer Crocker and Amy Canevello) suggest how best to approach your new roommate relationship(s).

"Basically, people who give support in response to another person's needs and out of concern for another person's welfare are most successful at building close relationships that they find supportive," Canevello said. "We get support, in other words, by being supportive."

Crocker says the best way to avoid loneliness and build a good roommate relationship is choosing to have an 'eco-system' approach, not an 'ego-system' one. In an 'ego-system' approach, people think most about their own needs and work to preserve a pristine version of themselves to others. In an 'eco-system' approach, folks focus on genuinely caring about and showing compassion for others."

Photo Credit: Goldberg

Welcome Back!



Most boarding schools open during this week after Labor Day, welcome back (returning students) and welcome and congratulations if you're a new boarding student.

If you haven't read our article that suggests some strategies and approaches to boarding school orientation, we urge you to do so. A positive & engaged orientation can ground you in preparation for all that's to come during the months ahead.

Lets make it a great year.

Photo Credit: Patrick Q
Back in March, we wrote about Eagle Hill School's role as a cultural hub in central Massachusetts and spoke of my hardhat tour of the school's under-construction Cultural Center.  As summer draws to a close, the school is now set to draw the curtain on their sparkling new facility.

The Cultural Center will house two theaters, a dining and function hall, gallery space, music rooms, a recording studio, visual and graphic arts classrooms, a set construction shop and an amphitheater.

As Eagle Hill Headmaster P.J. McDonald explained to the Worcester & Gazette, "The Cultural Center is a celebration of the arts and education coming together in three components.  First and foremost, it's for our students, whether they're acting on the stage, building the sets, marketing shows and accounting for the center's finances."

Congratulations to the folks at Eagle Hill.

Photo Credit: johnthurm
Myron Rolle displays a rare combination of drive, insight, work ethic, achievement and innate ability. Out of The Hun School of Princeton, Rolle chose to attend Florida State University on a full football scholarship. Academics weighed heavily on his decision to go to Florida State. The school offered him the opportunity for an accelerated program in a pre-med track.

I've never heard of another potential scholarship athlete who met with the university president on his admission visit.

He's now on track to finish early (in 2 1/2 years), apply for a Rhodes Scholarship and prepare for medical school. Or, graduate and enter the National Football League draft where he is projected as a first round pick.

Defer the dream of becoming an MD to play professional football?

As he tells SI.com's Stewart Mandel, "I sort of fell in love with that profession (MD) and had my mind set that I wanted to do (pre-med) while still playing football," said Rolle. "Everything I did in high school built up to where I'm at now."

These decisions will come during and after the fall as he works hard to return FSU football to national prominence.

Rolle's inside view of Florida State football for the New York Times provides a peek into the life of a division I football player and the ways of a major college program.
We write so often about boarding schools and boarding students that we lose sight that almost every boarding school has a day student component and that day students make significant contributions to boarding school life. In some ways, day student participation and contribution comes at some personal sacrifice. Transitioning to a boarding community takes them into a new setting away from friends with whom they may have grown-up and known since kindergarten. It's just plain tough to change school and shift priorities and friendships without moving.

Three students recently talked with the Monadnock Ledger about their opportunities, growth and successes as day students at Cushing Academy commuting daily from Rindge, NH. Alexa Barry and Breandan and Kara Garland have found athletic success and great opportunities at Cushing and believe that change and sacrifice of leaving their comfort zone has broadened their world and opportunities.
Students of Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa may be some the luckiest I know. They get to work with their hands, practice self-sufficiency and contribute to the local economy. With pasture, restored prairie, fields of corn and soy and a dedicated organic garden, Scattergood produces about one-half of its annual food needs selling summer surplus through a local cooperative.

Living a commitment to social justice, the Scattergood farm practices sustainable, responsible agriculture with minimal processing and a commitment to working the farm as large biotic system. All Scattergood Friends students participate in the maintenance and working of the farm.

The Gazette Online published a short article about the Scattergood Friends farm. It's worth a read.
It's great to see a small school with a tightly focused mission reach such a milestone. Brenau Academy's longevity is testament to its foundation and unwavering commitment to women as bright, engaging, leaders.

An extension of Brenau University, the Academy enrolls approximately 50 girls in its 9-PG program and notes a long line line of accomplished alumnae.

To read a brief article about Brenau's 80th year, visit: http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/archive/8015/

Visit Brenau's web site at: http://www.brenauacademy.org
Gilmour Academy (Gates Mills, Ohio) celebrated two National Forensic League champions this past June. Gilmour seniors, Nathan Blevins and Rachel Kenney won first place in their events. Blevins took home the top trophy in Student Congress. Kenney reading Katharine Hepburn's "Me: Stories of My Life" won the prize in Prose Interpretation as well as the the Jefferson plaque in the Humorous Interpretation event. This fall Kenney will attend Northwestern University and Blevins will attend Yale.

Only one other school in the nation- Newton North (MA), enjoyed two national champions in this year's competition.

To read more about Gilmour and it's students visit their site.

If you're unfamiliar with the National Forensic League and its programs, we certainly urge you to learn more.
Turns out the reading and teach of boarding school books isn't just an American thing. We always felt so special in A Separate Peace and A Catcher in the Rye. Turns our we're not alone. American boarding schools come from an English model and it makes sense that English writers will have their take on the experience and genre.

Sara Ebner recently assembled "The 25 Best Boarding School Books" for The Times (London). From the American perspective, The Catcher in the Rye comes in at 25th on the list and A Separate Peace doesn't rate. In a larger sense, I had forgotten how many boarding school books there are.

Take a look at Ebner's list and its discussion board; both are interesting and entertaining.
A friend of ours recently sent us an article by Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News. Gosselin's piece, "Hargrave Military Academy has prepped plenty for NFL" (published April 10, 2008) focuses on the success, meaning, and importance of Hargrave Military Academy's post-graduate program to high caliber athletes- many of whom have gone on to professional athletic careers.

Like many PG programs, Hargrave works to instill structure into its students' routines, improve grades and test scores and provide an extra year of athletic maturation.

As Dallas Maverick's forward Josh Howard told Gosselin,

"You had to have your priorities straight," said Howard of his experience at Hargrave. "It was the only way they'd take you. It taught you discipline -- taking care of what you need to take care of to get to the next level. You learn how to do everything in a timely fashion."

The Hargrave PG year- like most PG programs- is a concentrated year of maturation in all facets of the student's life.

We've written extensively about the post graduate year; our work goes beyond the athletic prost graduate. To learn more about a PG Year- what and why, read our article "A Post Graduate Year; what's that?"

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