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What is a Boarding School Like?

by Celeste Brooks, Director of Public Relations

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of boarding school if you’ve just finished reading or watching Harry Potter in all his adventures at Hogwarts, but alas, we have no flying cars, giant trolls, quidditch or Tri-Wizard Tournaments in real life. The reality is almost as good, though. So if you want to know what boarding school is like, let me give you a few ideas, Hogwarts-style.

Well, you have classes that are just as challenging as Potions and teachers as amazing as Professor McGonagall. As one of our own students says, “What I love about this school is that the teachers are your best friends.”

What is a boarding school like? It's like having a second family. Of course, you also make friends your own age. Friends who stick with you through thick and thin, just like Ron and Hermione did for Harry. You share every joy and every sorry with your fellow boarding students—your favorite meals and the meals you refuse to eat; days of “mandatory fun” that really are fun and the ones that aren’t; and of course the joy of competing for the “house cup,” as it was called at Hogwarts. At a real boarding school the students often do compete together in groups—perhaps as a hall, house, dorm, company, flight, or whatever the term the school uses for student groups–for honors. At our school, that competition can determine who gets to go through the lunch line first, and it might be based on grades, a fun competition, or even room inspections.  

Ah yes. Boarding schools sometimes do have room inspections, depending on the school. They want to make sure you’re keeping your room clean and sanitary, your clothes are cared for properly, and your bed sheets get changed regularly. (J.K. Rowling left that part out of Harry Potter.) 

At a boarding school, the schedule is much like what you follow at home. It depends on your school. At our upper school (grades 9-12), each day is a bit different (sometimes we have mentoring time or chapel services or block periods), but here’s what a Tuesday typically looks like:

A boarding school schedule
Wake-up  6:30 am
Breakfast  7:15 am
Morning Formation  7:45 am
Classes  8:00 am
Formation  12:10 pm
Lunch  12:20 pm
Classes  1:00 pm
Tutorial  2:40 pm
Intramurals/Sports  3:15 pm
Evening Formation  6:20 pm
Dinner  6:30 pm
Free Time  7:00 pm
Night Study Hall  7:30 pm
Call to Quarters  9:20 pm
Lights Out  10:30 pm
(11:00 pm for seniors)

Let me give you a couple of explanations, as our boarding school is also a military school so you might see some unusual terms on here. First, the “formations” that we have three times a day. During the morning formation, the flag is raised, then the students are all dismissed to go to class. It lasts ten minutes or less. At lunch formation, the students march to the dining hall in the order in which they will eat. At evening formation, the students lower the flag. “Call to Quarters” is a military term meaning that it is time to be in your dorm. This is when you would have time to get your uniform ready for the next day, take a shower, and/or just relax. (Our middle school, which is a civilian program, has a similar schedule, but wraps up about an hour earlier.)

In short, for most students, being at boarding school means they have a home away from home and a second family. Some might say being at a boarding school is like having a second family. Others say that their friends and teachers at boarding school are their second family. Just like Ron and Harry and Hermione.