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Not 'board' at school

November 3, 2023 at 4:00:00 PM

Sophia Mielke '25

Here at Mercersburg Academy, we have so many incredible opportunities. We learn how to be more independent, as we’re fully responsible for every aspect of our school lives. Our parents aren’t physically here harping on us to “do our homework,” “study for that test,” “go to that help session;” that all depends on us. We build strong connections with our teachers and classmates that students at a regular day school would not have. Sometimes you see your teachers at breakfast, lunch, dinner, in your classes, and before bed. I think it eliminates that cringe you felt in elementary school when you saw your teacher outside of class. Here you wave to them like friends. The weekends are always filled with fun activities, whether it’s a day trip to Hagerstown, a game, a show or concert, or just a simple fire on the patio. 

But maybe you look at your Instagram and see your friends from home posting about their Homecoming. You see their trips to pumpkin patches in the fall, their huge football games that the whole school shows up to, and you think, “Wow, am I missing out on something by being here?”

I often think about the high school experiences my parents have talked about. Going out to the movies with friends on Friday nights, big football games, and even working after school. I imagine some other students’ parents probably tell them the same thing. But as kids at a boarding school, our high school experience will always be different than kids at a regular day school. We can watch movies with our friends on Fridays, but we can’t always go to the movie theater. The Simon Student Center theater or a friend's dorm room is usually where we go. I think that in a way, it brings you closer to your friends, too. 

The best memories I’ve had during my time here are of movie nights spent on a friend's dorm room floor, with a bag of microwave popcorn. We usually watch bad horror movies or bad 2000’s movies and crack jokes until we can hardly breathe due to our laughter. While we don’t have a huge Homecoming with a football game, we have something even more special: Step Songs and the massive bonfire. How many high schools have a bonfire to kick off the school year? And even though football isn’t as big a deal here as it is at some other high schools, the games are still fun and it’s awesome to go support the team with your friends. 

But here at Mercersburg, it's not just the social aspects of traditional high school life that we miss out on, it’s the familial ones as well. My friends with siblings sometimes comment on how when they finally get to spend time with their siblings at home, they feel like they’ve missed out on crucial moments of their lives. As an only child, this wasn't something I had thought about. I miss my parents of course, but the connection between siblings is so much different. It just seems so difficult for those missing out on their little siblings' big milestones, and my heart goes out to them. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a bright side to this situation. You FaceTime and text as much as you can, but it still isn’t the same. Being here at Mercersburg is incredible, but for boarding students, there are some things we have to sacrifice. So, make every break count, and remember to call your family, but don’t fret; you can still have plenty of fun on campus. After all, you’re living with your friends. It’s the type of thing we dreamed of when we were little! 

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