Mercersburg Academy - Review #20
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||1980-1982|
|Sports and Activities:||While at Mercersburg, I was on varsity wrestling and cross country, the Blue Key club, which provides student campus guides for prospective students; a dorm Proctor - a coveted position, puppet club, and political writer for the school paper.|
|College Enrolled:||Fordham University|
|Home Town, State:||San Diego, CA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Mercersburg presents a casual, but structured learning environment with many activities that provide varied avenues for growth and learning. Coming to Mercersburg, I was a quiet, introverted person with strong athletic attributes, but shaky academic discipline. (Academic discipline wasn't needed to slide comfortably through in my local public school.) Mercersburg provided me the academic structure to develop learning skills that provided critical for me through college and law school. Too, at Mercersburg I was immediately surrounded by high achieving and determined students, which helps motivate me to try harder. There was no resting on basic academic aptitude. Everyone was smart, and everyone wanted to attend a good college. The faculty was great - personable and professional and polite. My teachers would push me, but carefully as to not add stress. There was a sense of tradition there, but not the stuffy kind.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me at the school was the jolt to my approach to education. My short time there helped me go farther academically then I would have otherwise.It also exposed me to a whole new level of competitive students I never knew while in public school. The school provided me the tools I needed for college and law school. Academically, college was not not a big change after Mercersburg. Second "best thing" are the long term friends I met there. I have a few friends from Texas to Germany with whom I have stayed in touch.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
If I could do anything differently, I would participate in more extra-curricular activities such as the theater and the Outward Bound program.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The people, by far. Both the students and faculty are impressive and personable. While there, you know you are at a special place and a special time in your life.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Visit the Italian pizza place in town. It rivals any pizza in New York. Visit the Church bell town - the carillon is the best in the state. Finally, engage in extra curricular activities - challenge yourself. Its the time to try new things, and it keep "cabin fever" away.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Regarding the academic, I enjoyed most the small class settings. It was a challenge for me, but also most rewarding. Before Mercersburg, in public school I could breeze through a class sitting in the back of the classroom and attend a B grade with little effort. At Mercersburg, I had to prepare for class and I had to participate. "Blue book" tests were new to me and intimidating. At first, I struggled, as class participation was not my strong suit. My first trimester grades were ugly. But the teachers stood by me. In particular, my Latin teacher and European History teacher - both Ivy league educated - helped me through my "learning curve" by encouraging me and challenging me (never had I seen so much red ink corrections on my homework!). My English writing teacher - another Ivy leaguer - was always available to help, which built my confidence in my writing. I improved and began the enjoy engaging in class. My grades improved dramatically. In all it was a new experience for me, which paid dividends later, particularly in law school. I learned to speak up and defend my point of view.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The Cross Country team was a joy, largely because the school is located in a breathtaking part of Pennsylvania. The quiet solitude of the beautiful country roads in the fall is among my fondest memories. The athletic programs also provided a complimentary structure to the academic. Wednesdays were half-days that allowed for games (or other student activities and chapel), so I didn't feel overwhelmed. Sports in a big part of Mercersburg. I think if I were not athletically oriented and did not participate in sports or outdoor activities, then a lot of what the school has to offer would have been lost.Saturdays are filled with athletic activities. If you are not participating, then there is always a game or match to watch. Everyone must participate in a sport of some sort - whether a team or club - or attend mandatory P.E., which is also flexible. When not running cross country or wrestling, I was left largely on my own to weight lift.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
My lack of participation in the arts, music and theater program is my biggest regret. Again, I was a quiet, shy student arriving at Mercersburg. While I had an interest in these activities, there was no mandatory requirement to participate beyond an art class. I frankly didn't have the courage to pursue these activities on my own. My roommate was on the chorus and he enjoyed it. I did, however, enjoy the student plays and concerts. In the arts, there is something for everyone. As with athletics, it has become a large part of the school's activities.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
I was fortunate to be a student proctor. Generally, there are two student proctors and a faculty member living on every floor in the dorms. The proctors - generally seniors - help mentor younger students, enforce study hours in the dorms, and ensure minor mischief is kept in check. I enjoyed being a "sounding board" for students and the leadership responsibility it provided. I wrote the political column for the student paper as well. Though my views were more conservative that many as well as the student body, my writings were always well received and encourage to aid discourse and help the students remain engaged. I was also a member of the Current Affairs club, which met after dinner one night a week in the cafeteria to debate issues over coffee. A teach monitored the club, but largely listened or joined in the debated. It was fun and a break from dorm study that typically follows dinner. I was a member of the puppet club because a friend and fellow proctor needed the help. The new club grew to 4 members. We put on shows at local senior centers and elementary schools. It was great fun and fulfilling. I was a member of the Blue Key Club, which provided student guides to potential student and family members. I learn a lot of history about the school (my dorm was burned during the Civil War), and the surrounding area.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The most enjoyable part of dorm life was listening to music while chatting with friends in someone's room. It provided a glimpse of college life. Our floor faculty member - my history teacher who was also the school's chapel - was also a fun guy. At the end of study hall hours, he would turn on his TV and invite anyone in for popcorn and good conversation. He apartment was always filled with students. He also was available to help with homework and counseling, save for nights in which he was writing his sermons.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Dinning at Merecrsburg is family style with a faculty member and a student proctor at each table. Student rotate dinner server responsibilities. Some teachers are more fun than others to have at a table, but the frequent rotation of tables means you are never stuck long with a dude table. This form of dinning always helps you meet others outside of you "clique". Only dinner requires a tie for men, thankfully. Food is good, and Seniors are able to eat in town on Friday's.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
The town surrounding the school is small, but has grown lately. A small ski facilities has helped to attract more businesses in the general area. Everything you need is there, including a great Italian pizza place. It is a small "one stop light" town.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life is helped by numerous campus activities, including weekend movies, a large student lounge with varied activities, and a large gym for pick-up games etc. Each dorm tends to develop its own social setting as well. Trips to Washington D.C. (2 hours) or other areas are a good get-away.
|8:00 AM||history sclass|
|4:00 AM||cross country practice|
|7:00 AM||dorm study or club activity|
|8:00 AM||Cross Country meet or other althetics|
|12:00 PM||lunch and student lounge|
|2:00 AM||racquette ball|
|5:00 AM||chress club or newpaper|
|7:00 AM||movie or play|
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Do you like large schools or small schools? Are you most comfortable in a city, small town or countryside? Are you interested in attending a school that has a religious or military orientation? Would you like to attend a school that is only for boys or girls? These are some questions you must ask yourself before you begin your search for the right U.S. boarding school for you.
Here then are a dozen boarding schools which charge approximately $20,000 per year or less for tuition, room and board.
A boarding school is a business. Is your business on brand?