May 5, 2023 at 4:00:00 PM
Fran Garcia '26
Family style meals are a longstanding tradition of the Mercersburg Academy community. These occur in order to bring together students and faculty. Some however disagree with the tradition for various reasons that include the anxiety of having to sit with people you might not know. Others feel it's a great way to meet new people and strengthen the community. It's safe to say the opinions are fairly split, but as one searches for the right answer, it becomes clear that traditions like these are needed.
When asking students who object to the tradition, most of their answers fall somewhere along the lines of disliking having to sit with people they might not necessarily know and not being able to sit with their friends. Indeed, we all are challenged during family-style meals to branch out and meet new people. If it does come to the point that no one wants to participate in a conversation, it's helpful for table proctors to plan out a question of the day or find other ways to get everyone involved. Tables rotate every two weeks so disliking a table is not something you will have to deal with for long periods of time. Students who feel like they don't get a chance to sit with their friends at lunch seem to forget about breakfast, most dinners, and lunch on the weekends when you are free to sit wherever you please and even go off campus to local restaurants.
Having a meal with the same people for two weeks is bound to make you meet them and start conversations. For many, family-style meals have even been the commencement of great friendships and relationships with faculty members. The essence of traditions like this are what make a community great by connecting to a long history of what has helped our school define itself. Traditions like this make Mercersburg feel more like home. Traditions that create this feeling are highly important as we are a school that is overwhelmingly residential. (Besides sitting down for a meal, the tradition also includes a practice of great teamwork when it comes to being in charge of taking care of the food or the plates.)
As divided as opinions about this matter might be, it is clear that Mercersburg is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive in order to help us connect with our past and each other.