Hill School - Review #1

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About the Author:

College Enrolled Pepperdine University
Home Town, State (Country) Westport, CT
Years Attended Boarding School 3
Activities During Boarding School Drama (including lead roles in musicals, and Shakespeare every other year), Managing Editor of The Hill News, Frisbee Club, Prefect of a 5th Form Hall, FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools), Fall JV Soccer, Winter and Spring Varsity Track (Polevault).

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The two aspects of The Hill School that make it unique are the professors' relationship with the students and the traditions at The Hill. First off, professors are involved in all aspects of school life. All students, with the exception of day students, live on a dormitory hall with a faculty hall master. In addition, sit-down dinners in the dining hall have a professor sitting at each end. I even had my two math teachers as my track coaches! I always had a personal relationship with my professors, they not only urged me to do my best as a student, but to be my best as a citizen, community leader, and as a person. It may sound intrusive, but the Hill School isn't just about preparing you for university. The Hill School is about preparing the student for a life of excellence. In a world where anyone can scrape by living a life of mediocrity, the Hill School pushes you to become excellent in every way and that starts with close relationships with teachers. Forming friendships with teachers at The Hill continues to be one of the greatest benefits of attending The Hill. In connection with this are Hill School's great traditions. As you step onto Hill campus the first and most obvious tradition you notice is the dress code. Male students wear coat and tie every day with the 6th Formers (Seniors...another tradition) wearing their 6th Form blazers. Female students wear a dress or an oxford shirt and jacket with either slacks or a skirt. Another tradition is that of the school's motto, "Whatsoever things are true." Truth is the highest ideal at The Hill. Honesty and integrity are natural corollaries which are put into practice with a strict policy on plagiarism and the Honor Council, a board of students and faculty selected to address issues of academic dishonesty. And as discussed earlier, our rivalry with Lawrenceville goes back to 1887 and is one of the longest standing rivalries between independent schools in the United States.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened at Hill was befriending the teachers. They are all fascinating, well educated, and very intelligent. Be sure to learn as much as you can from them, that's the reason they are there. Many of them could be teaching at the university level, but have chosen to live and teach at The Hill.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My first year at Hill, I locked myself up in my room and spent all my time on AOL. I missed my friends from home and was overly shy. It wasn't until the next year that I really reached out and got involved. I would suggest that new boarding school students do exactly the opposite! Get out there are get to know people. Go to all the social events. Join a club! Get involved and you will be much happier and much more productive.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
When it comes down to it, the one thing about Hill that I loved the most was the atmosphere. It was that intangible feeling that I belonged to a place and it really belonged to me. After putting so much of myself into the theatre department and Hill News...and my classes, there was a very deep sense of belonging that I believe is unique to The Hill. The Hill was first called The Family Boarding School in 1851, and it truly felt that way to me. The professors that would go over papers with me at 10pm or just talk about life and philosophy over coffee were like parents to me. My friends who I studied impossible amounts of history with, I got into trouble with, and I laughed about everything with were like my brothers and sisters. And those great red brick buildings were my home. The Hill School is more than an excellent school, it is a place that its students will always call home.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Yes, words of wisdom... Make sure you try the mookies at the grill, and learn the story behind the name! Climb the huge tree by the Alumni Chapel, but don't let Mrs. Dougherty see you! Get involved in the Hill News. And find out what you can about Hill's secret society, OSS.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academics at Hill challenge you. Teachers don't waste time with redundant busy-work, they hand you the real meat of the issue. This allows you to really think deeply and get inside an issue, whether it is Contemporary Literature or European History. The Hill School treats its students like scholars and demand the student's full efforts in return.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Although athletics are mandatory, Hill School athletics bring the community together with tremendous shows of school spirit and pride (Hockey, Football and Soccer games most notably). Students give their all in sports competition and have the support of the whole school. When competing with our rival Lawrenceville Academy, these attributes are magnified tens of times! The best expression of this is at L'Ville Weekend and the week preceding it where students bang silverware on the tables and chant age-old fight songs at dinners. Every fall sports team plays against L'Ville. Truly one of the highest intensity moments of the year.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The arts at the Hill were great. There were plenty of opportunities for artists as classes and teachers were always available for lessons, instruction, etc. I was actively involved in the theatre program and our facility was awesome. Not only were there opportunities for young actors, but there were incredible opportunities to participate and lead in the technical side of theatre with all sorts of new equipment. Student productions are very well supported by the school community and kudos always go out from the teachers to the students for their participation and are very understanding of the extra stress of participating in a production.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
At Hill there were great extracurricular opportunities. Whether it be the school newspaper, The Hill News (over 100 years in publication), clubs (anyone can form one), intramural sports (notably a Hill invention called J-Ball!), or community service (for which there are many opportunities, but no requirement for), The Hill School has a wide variety of opportunities.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life is...well, its crazy at times and is provides for some of the best bonding experiences between students (and teachers...they are your hall masters!). Nearly all students have a roommate and they will likely become a good friend (I just talked to mine this morning). There are many different dorms on campus that are all laid out differently, but they are all very nice. The new Dell Dorms, Upper School, and the dorms that line the track are all possible dorm assignments.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Usually there are two sit-down meals a day, lunch and dinner. Students eat in a dining hall, a term that almost belittles the space. The dining hall has old dark oak walls with a series of paintings by N.C. Wyeth (valued in the millions) lining the walls. Long wooden tables and high-back wooden chairs fill the space. As a student, you are constantly reminded that generations of Hill students have eaten there by the atmosphere in the place. Seating is assigned at the beginning of every list period (there are 3 trimesters, and six lists). The dining hall is open only for meals. The meals themselves are pretty darn good as far as institutional food goes and I'm sure it has improved since I was there last. As always, there will be those truly great meals...the red meat dinner! ...and those truly dangerous ones...Chicken a la King.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Pottstown, PA is a little town about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia and even closer to Reading. There are plenty of little pizza shops and 7-11s, but not a whole lot else. About 20 minutes away there is a huge Cineplex and the biggest mall in the area, King of Prussia.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
There is no doubt that The Hill has a small school feel, after all, there are only around 500 students. So, everyone gets to know pretty much everyone after a year, but this is more good than bad. You get to know people completely, you have class with them, you study with them, you practice sports with them, and you live with them! Hill has dances every couple of weeks with live music or a DJ and they go all out for the formals at the end of the year.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
7:30 AMRoll Out of Bed
8:00 AM1st Class
9:00 AM2nd Class
10:00 AMAdvisor Meeting
10:30 AM3rd Class
11:15 PM4th Class
12:15 AMSit Down Lunch
1:00 PMMore Classes
3:00 PMSports Practice
6:00 PMSit Down Dinner
Weekend
8:00 AM1st Class
9:00 AM2nd Class
10:00 AM3rd Class
11:00 AM4th Class
12:00 AMSit Down Lunch
3:00 PMSports Competition
6:00 PMBuffet Dinner
7:00 PMMovie Shuttle to Cineplex
8:00 PMStudent Activities Event
11:00 PMBack to the Dorms
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