Mercersburg Academy - Review #14

Read more details about Mercersburg Academy on their 2019-20 profile page.
Mercersburg Academy
5

About the Author:

College EnrolledGeorgetown University
Home Town, State Bethesda, MD
Years Attended Boarding School2
Activities During Boarding SchoolI played a variety of sports during my time at Mercersburg but I was most involved with the soccer and lacrosse teams, the latter of which I captained my senior year. I was also the president of the Mercersburg Model Train club.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The single most unique aspect of Mercersburg Academy would have to be the outstanding location of the campus. Nestled between several mountains, the campus sits atop a hill overlooking the postcard town of Mercersburg. To this day there may be no more beautiful campus, college or boarding school, that I have had the pleasure of visiting.Another unique aspect of Mercersburg would have to be the opportunities for outside the box learning. Whether through the dozens of student organizations, service trips, or other activities, Mercersburg allowed me to sample a great deal of activities that were outside of my comfort zone. I truly believe that some of the memories I had and the things I learned at Mercersburg outside of the classroom have helped me both in the professional world and in academia.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The single best thing that happened to me in boarding school would have to be my community gathering. To illustrate just how truly welcoming and kind the student body at Mercersburg was, I was able to share with the entire student body my pursuit of a career as a pianist, abandonment of that dream, acceptance of my limitations as a pianist and then to play several pieces that I had written myself. I will likely never get a chance to perform for six hundred people in my life again and the congratulations and support I received from my fellow students was truly special.I was selected to the All-MAPL lacrosse team my senior year which was a nice accolade to graduate with and was selected to the Laxpower All-American team (Central PA area).
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have talked less and listened more. The first weeks at boarding school are exciting yet intimidating, fun yet stressful. The best advice I can give to students going to boarding school is to make close connections with your adviser, college counselors, teachers, and coaches. Each of these people has great advice and wisdom to share with students and help them acclimate to the boarding school environment.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Again it sounds cliche, but the people. Some of my best friends, people that I trust to be around for a lifetime, I met at Mercersburg. Many of the teachers and coaches that I had at Mercersburg made it the unique, safe and comfortable environment it is today. Headmaster Doug Hale brings a quiet and steady leadership to the school that I believe has been embraced from the top down and allowed Mercersburg to emerge in the 21st century as a cutting-edge institution that has not abandoned its founding fundamentals. It truly has a family-like environment and I have never regretted my decision to attend Mercersburg over schools such Andover and St. Andrew's (DE).
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Be sure to see the entire campus. Make sure to see the Chapel, walk around Burgin Center, and see newly renovated Nolde gymnasium. The most impressive room on campus may be the old library in Keil Hall. Mercersburg's campus may seem expansive when you arrive as a prospective student but you will get to know the entire campus inside-out before you graduate.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The single most unique aspect of Mercersburg Academy would have to be the outstanding location of the campus. Nestled between several mountains, the campus sits atop a hill overlooking the postcard town of Mercersburg. To this day there may be no more beautiful campus, college or boarding school, that I have had the pleasure of visiting.Another unique aspect of Mercersburg would have to be the opportunities for outside the box learning. Whether through the dozens of student organizations, service trips, or other activities, Mercersburg allowed me to sample a great deal of activities that were outside of my comfort zone. I truly believe that some of the memories I had and the things I learned at Mercersburg outside of the classroom have helped me both in the professional world and in academia.I played a variety of sports during my time at Mercersburg but I was most involved with the soccer and lacrosse teams, the latter of which I captained my senior year. I was also the president of the Mercersburg Model Train club.This will obviously sound cliche, but the faculty. Some of my teachers at Mercersburg I still stay in touch with today. I believe that not only did my teachers adequately prepare me for the rigors of a Georgetown education, but that they were, at least in part, directly responsible for instilling the passion for learning in me that inspired me to pursue not only my B.A. but my Master's degree as well.The AP offerings at Mercersburg were of the highest caliber. The teachers prepared us well for the exams, allowing me to become an AP Distinguished scholar and also to receive an entire semester's worth of credit hours at Georgetown.While Mercersburg tries to foster a competitive environment on campus, they understood that schools that take this too far can create a noxious and intimidating environment. I felt like Mercersburg was able to find a healthy balance that allowed students to achieve their best while not feeling that failure was something to be feared but embraced as a learning experience.Class sizes were small enough that a student could engage directly with their teachers on a day to day basis, but large enough to allow students to not feel that they were operating under a microscope. The diversity of the students in each class provided ample opportunities for lively discussion and most teachers created an environment that encouraged class participation.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I felt that the athletics program at Mercersburg were of a sufficient quality. Sports such as swimming, baseball, and wrestling were of the highest caliber. Many of our other teams found success in competition as well.For myself, I believe that the athletics at Mercersburg provided to a student what they were willing to put in. The coaches were personable, knowledgeable and extremely passionate about their teams. I ended up being recruited by a large number of colleges for lacrosse and went on to compete my freshman year of college before electing to follow other pursuits. Mercersburg was pivotal in helping me gain exposure to these coaches and providing me with an environment to grow as an athlete.I believe that Mercersburg Athletics will only continue to grow in quality and success. With the renovation of Nolde Gymnasium and the addition of the field house and pool complex, Mercersburg will have one of the finest athletic facilities in the country.I feel that many schools have abandoned their commitment to athletics in pursuit of greater academic achievement (i.e. more Ivy League placement, higher AP participation, etc.). However I believe that they miss the point. In the structured environment of Mercersburg, athletics provided students with the physical stimulation, peer bonding, and campus culture that freed their mind from the stresses of academic pursuits. Personally, this allowed me to better segregate portions of my life, and ultimately achieve far more in the classroom. Headmaster Hale has embraced the role that athletics play in the growth of a young man/woman and I believe that Mercersburg's students greatly benefit for it.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
When I arrived at Mercersburg I had had little exposure to the visual and theatrical arts. One of my favorite experiences during my time at Mercersburg was pottery. The pottery classroom was always filled with at least half a dozen students working on pieces and it functioned as both an artistic but also a social environment for the students.I took a dance class, and while I will not claim that I am now any more inclined to do more than shuffle my feet, it was a really fun class that forced me to escape my comfort zone and learn to address my own trepidations.The Burgin Center for the Arts is one of the most astounding buildings I have ever seen on a boarding school campus. I believe that the arts at Mercersburg have grown and improved due to the Burgin Center, and that they should continue to grow, both in student participation, but also in student excellence.Shakespeare plays in the spring were always a delight, and the talent level of Stony Batter (the acting guild at Mercersburg) was top notch for a high school level.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
As I will probably mention again, ski trips to Whitetail (a 15 minute drive) were one of the great highlights of my time at Mercersburg. It was great to be able to get off campus and spend time getting exercise and goofing around with my friends.The model train club is the only one of its kind that I know of and the opportunity to learn about electrical and mechanical engineering through hands on experience was invaluable. The John McFadden railroad museum, which sits between South Cottage and Swank Hall has a fantastic collection of both pre-war and post-war trains.While I did not participate actively in the organization, Mercersburg Model UN has gained a great deal of accolades and was one of the top student groups at Mercersburg during my time there.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
My time living in Fowle Hall (which at the time was a boy's dorm) were fantastic. Some of my best friends to this day lived on the same floor. The dorms were up to date, well lit, well heated/cooled and generally made for a comfortable living environment.While students were expected to observe certain rules, students configured their rooms in a number of different ways. Many students lofted or bunked their beds in order to maximize the large space. My roommate and I were able to create sections to the room so that if one of us wanted to study while the other entertained themselves it was not difficult to concentrate.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The food at Mercersburg was pretty variable. Some meals were fantastic, but the majority of the food was simply above-average. Compared to college food however it was really good. The rotating sitting arrangements forced students to get to know everyone on campus. I felt that getting a chance to meet and know all of the other students at Mercersburg made for a sense of camaraderie that greatly improved my boarding school experience.Sunday breakfasts were pretty great and the waffles at Mercersburg are unmatched!

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
One of the best assets that Mercersburg has in the surrounding areas is its close ties with Whitetail Resort. Only about a fifteen minute drive from campus, snowboarding at Whitetail during the winter was certainly a great treat for students and the van rides were almost as fun as the skiing itself.There are a number of pizza/sandwich shops in Mercersburg that are both affordable and delicious. Romeo's, a refurbished train station turned pizza parlor, was a student favorite. I would describe Mercersburg as a very safe small postcard town with a very All-American feel.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The friendships that I made at Mercersburg have proved to be some of the most fulfilling and closest in my life. Although I transferred in as a Junior, I was welcomed by the entire school and embraced by my dormmates, teammates and classmates as if I had been there since the first day of freshman year.The isolated location of Mercersburg creates an environment for students to truly get to know each other. You live, eat and sleep every day with a small group of students (<500) which makes it almost impossible for a student to isolate themselves from their classmates. While some may view its isolation as a handicap, I felt that the location helped me make great long-lasting friendships.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
8:30 AMCan't recall my daily schedule as it has been over four years since graduation.
Weekend
9:00 AMTime we would leave for away games
5:00 PMUsual time back to campus for away games
Read more details about Mercersburg Academy on their 2019-20 profile page.

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