The Thacher School - Review #1

Read more details about The Thacher School on their 2018-19 profile page.
The Thacher School
5

About the Author:

College EnrolledColumbia University
Home Town, State Belvedere, CA
Years Attended Boarding School4
Activities During Boarding Schoolhead of community service (senior year), staff writer for school newspaper, editor in chief of school newspaper (senior year), varsity girls soccer, varsity cross-country, independent project in writing poetry during my junior year, yoga, created tutoring program for local junior high school, weekly visits with the elderly at local convalescent home

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
There are so many unique qualities about Thacher...my favorite is probably the "big Thacher family" feel of the school. You play with and babysit all the faculty children, and the faculty dogs are always walking around campus. It is so great to have children to play with when you are stressed out about an upcoming paper or test, and remember that there are more important things in life to worry about. I miss being able to stop by faculty houses to visit their kids, and tag along to help them pick out Christmas trees or groceries. And it is so cool for the faculty kids to have so many big brothers and sisters that love them and pay so much attention to them. Faculty are so great - you can go to their houses and hang out all the time. It is such a great part of going to boarding school. I definitely miss interacting with teachers now that I am in college.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I think I owe a lot of who I've become to Thacher. Even in the first year, I learned so much responsibility by taking care, not only of myself (on my own for the first time), but for my horse too. Thacher really commits itself to teaching students honesty and respect that they can carry out into the "real world". In high school, you learn a lot from your teachers, upperclassmen, and peers about what kind of a person you can be. The kindness that everyone in the school showed me taught me to be a better person. I'm serious...I really don't think I would be the person I am today if Thacher didn't develop "honesty, fairness, kindness and truth" in me during my high school years. I don't know how else to explain it except with this example: The other week I had midterms at Columbia. I walked into the building where I had my neuroscience exam, and a few feet outside of the classroom, a couple guys were writing all of the information onto their arm and hand. I was so stunned, because I didn't even realize that anyone cheated...that mentality doesn't exist at Thacher.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
When you visit Thacher don't be shy. Talk to students after assembly, find some teachers in the subjects you like best and ask them about the books they teach. I guarantee you they will all be warm and welcoming. You will get a good feel for the school if you branch out and meet some students and faculty. I don't know that I would change anything about my boarding school experience. Every bad experience I had, from a rainy wet camping trip to a bad grade on a test, brought with it something memorable and good.
4.) What would you never want to change about your school?
I wouldn't change anything about the character of the school. Basically, Thacher has it all right. It's been around long enough to perfect what it stands for and what it wants to teach, and it does a great job at everything. The friendships between teachers and students, the indescribably close bonds between students, the classroom energy, the love of learning outside of the classroom. I loved how discussions of everything from current events to philosophy didn't stop when we left the classroom, but carried on past lights out in the dorms.
5.) What things could be improved about your school?
The dorms could use some help. The problem is, Thacher doesn't have a huge endowment, and most of the money goes to financial aid, the horse program, and other educational purposes. The rustic dorms shouldn't be a priority to the school, so it isn't a big deal that they are not. Plus, it allows the freshman boys to knock down doors and do whatever other strange things thirteen-year-old boys do for fun. Dorm visitation would be nice...but as I said before it is hard to please everyone with allowing or not allowing the opposite sex into your shared home.
6.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
If you are a girl, definitely check out Middle School, the junior and senior girls dorm. Very nice singles, and a great common room with kitchen and good TV. When you visit, be sure to go to assembly - they are really fun and you get a good feel for the students and teachers by the crazy announcements and interesting TOAD (teacher on active duty) talks. Walk around campus without your tour guide, just wander around and see what it feels like to be on the campus

Academics:

1.) What did you like best about your school’s academics?
There are so many great aspects about academics at Thacher, and everything stems from the outstanding faculty. The teachers at Thacher are absolutely FANTASTIC. I am sure that every school has faculty members that, through their skillful teaching style, draw students into the heart of the subject and inspire in them a deeper interest in the topic, but Thacher faculty do more than that. I remember sitting in some of my classes wishing I had another set of ears to take in any words that I might have missed. The faculty teach everything with so much love for their subject. Their excitement in the subject is clear by the awesome energy they bring into the room, and bring out in their students (even at 8 a.m.). They care so much about students. I don't know how many teachers outside of Thacher would welcome a student into their home at 9 o'clock on a Friday night for help on a paper, or to go over a presentation idea. Teachers are always there for you - no matter the hour, day, or need. It is such a comfort to know that teachers pay attention to your performance like they do at Thacher. If you are having trouble with material, they will come to you - maybe find you after assembly, or stop by your room during study hall, and see how you're doing and offer help. I always thought it was so cool that I could sit in my dorm room and hang out with my French teacher, getting help on my paper and talking about class...And this is just the school part! Faculty and friends are synonymous at Thacher, which is awesome.
2.) What did you like least about the academics in your school?
It is tough for a school with such a small student body to offer as many courses as larger high schools, but what Thacher lacks in class diversity it makes up for in the depth of each course. The classes offered are so detailed and the faculty are so knowledgeable in the material, that it is amazing that they offer the variety that they do. That being said, in my four years at Thacher, I never felt a lack of options for classes to choose. In fact, there are probably enough classes at the school that I wanted to take but couldn't fit into my schedule to last me another four years!

Athletics:

1.) What did you like best about your school’s athletics?
Even with a toad as the mascot, Thacher athletics are amazing. For such a small school, we manage to compete against (and beat!) some of the larger private schools and public high schools in the area. You should definitely check out the school's website for all the impressive sports records...I don't know any off hand. One of the aspects I miss most about Thacher are the games. I don't know how to describe the thrill of sports games at school. Whether it is standing with every single student and faculty member in the pouring rain screaming and jumping up and down as we watch the boys varsity soccer team gracefully dominate the field during a championship game, or pounding our feet and cheering on the girls varsity basketball team as they skillfully move up and down the court, it is almost more fun to be a fan than to be a player. I miss those games so much!!I think it is a really great idea that Thacher requires afternoon sports all four years. I think that for most students, the more you have on your plate, the more efficient you become with your time. Personally, I would have participated in sports for most seasons, but I am so happy that during terms that I would normally sit out, I was required to continue. If I hadn't tried lacrosse, with the ridiculous uniforms and my less than optimal hand-eye coordination, some of my greatest memories of Thacher would never have happened (a.k.a. getting hit in the head by a lacrosse ball while not-so-slyly gazing across the field at upperclassmen baseball players...)
2.) What did you like least about the athletics in your school?
I think the one problem I had with the school's athletics is that there were some seasons where I wanted to participate in four or five afternoon activities offered, and other seasons where I wasn't interested in any. But that is totally personal - many students had two or three sports every term that caught their attention. All in all, Thacher has good sports.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) What did you like best about your school’s art program?
I am probably the wrong person to ask about art at Thacher, because I am pretty artistically challenged. I did take a ceramics class my senior year to fulfill my art requirement, which was great. My teacher was so funny and had a crazy story to tell every class as he helped turn the grey blob in front of me into beautiful bowls and tea pots (great mothers day gifts). I always love going to the musicals and plays, and the dance ensemble is incredible.
2.) What did you like least about your school’s art program?
My friends who are interested in various arts often talk about the facilities needing a little TLC, but I believe Thacher is in the process of raising money and developing a new performing arts building that should be great.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) What did you like most about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
The extracurriculars at Thacher happen because of the students. If you want a club to celebrate your love of cooking or your obsession with cheese, you can find it at Thacher because students have created them. There are so many clubs to join at Thacher, and they range from relaxed (the tea club just meets every once in a while in the dining hall and drinks tea) to organized and pro-active (like Amnesty International or the Mad Bomber Ski Society).
2.) What did you like least about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
The downside to extracurriculars at Thacher is that, because it is such a small school, it is hard to get the student support that larger schools have. We can't put out a paper with as many pages or as often as other schools, because we have a smaller pool of contributors. There aren't as many meetings and events with clubs, because there aren't enough active members in each of the clubs.

Dorm Life:

1.) What was the best thing about dorm life in your school?
The dorm life is the best part about Thacher. Your closest friendships and best "bonding" moments come from the time you spend in the dorm with classmates. I definitely recommend that students considering Thacher take the overnight trip to school, because that is the best way to get a good feel for what Thacher life is like. Dorms are where you hang out the most, from munch outs (Thacher tradition of night junk food parties where your prefect buys/bakes tons of food and you eat and talk for hours) to movies to study groups
2.) What did you like least about dorm life?
The one thing I don't like about Thacher dorm life is that there is no dorm visitation. I think that, because dorm life is the time when you form your closest friendships, it is a shame that girls and boys can't interact. I do understand the difficulty in opening the dorm to the opposite sex, and the insecurities and discomfort that some students would feel in that situation, so I think that Thacher's decision to allow dorm visitation only on specific occasions is the smart choice. Nevertheless, I regret not having the option to hang out in all of the dorms.

Dining:

1.) What was the best thing about your dining arrangements?
The food at Thacher is so good. I think the dining service is by Bon Appetit, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I rarely walked into the dining hall for meals and found nothing to eat. I miss it so much now that I am at college! The hot food line always has lots of options. I think I miss weekend brunch more than anything. You can make youre own waffles and smoothies, and they make omelets and steaks and any kind of egg you request. Really, Thacher has amazing food. And the baked goods are so yummy. The pastries and cookies and pies and cakes...mmm.
2.) What did you like least about your dining arrangements?
I guess I used to complain about formal dinner, but I wouldn't want Thacher to change that. It is a good way to talk to students you might not otherwise meet, and I think it settles people down after sports. I can't think of anything to complain about really, because the food was great and you could always come in for fruit or frozen yogurt no matter the hour.

Social and Town Life:

1.) How welcome did you feel by the other students when you first arrived at the school
I would bet that when it comes to feeling welcome by other students, there is no place like Thacher. You have friends in all different grades, and there is no sign of the typical seniority, anti-underclassmen stuff. I think everyone has a different experience when they first arrive at school. I had never been away from home for more than a week, so boarding school was a shock to me. Some kids are thrilled to finally be away from home. If you do get homesick, teachers, prefects, and your new friends will be really supportive. Thacher looks out for you as you adjust to the new environment.
2.) Describe the level of diversity and integration of students in your school:
It is hard to have a diverse student population in such a small school, but Thacher has done a good job. Although the school has a much smaller endowment than comparable boarding schools, Thacher offers financial aid to many students. Students are predominantly from the West Coast, but we do have some students from the Midwest and East Coast. Each class is made up of all different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. I was so surprised when I came to Columbia and each ethnic group went their own way, because at Thacher there is no seperation. There is a diversity of backgrounds among students at Thacher, but you all muck the same horse stalls and go to the same formal dinners, and those common experiences form great friendships.
3.) Describe typical fun activities you did on a weekend:
I usually watched movies or went to a friend's house on Fridays. Three of my closest friends were fac brats (faculty children...so they lived on campus) so I spent a lot of time eating their food and hanging out with their families. Saturday I usually had a sports game, and watched another team. Sometimes I would go into town or find a ride to Ventura. Saturday night I'd go to Open House at the Mulligans, and Sundays I usually worked all day.
4.) What was the town like?
There are buses to town every Wednesday and Saturday. If you want to get to town on another day, you can always email the faculty and see if you can hitch a ride from one of them. There are good restaurants and cafes in town. There is a movie theater in town, but it is pretty old so I usually went to movies in Ventura. I like Ojai, but it is definitely a small quiet town with not too much to do for teenagers. Thacher brings a lot of stuff to the school though - they have all sorts of speakers and singers and movies throughout the year.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
7:00 AMGet up, get dressed, and finish last minute homework assignments.
7:30 AMBreakfast check-in at the dining hall and eat breakfast.
8:00 AMClass
8:45 AMFree period
9:30 AMClass
10:30 AMAssembly
11:00 AMLunch
11:45 AMFree period
12:30 AMClass
1:15 PMClass
2:15 PMClass
3:00 PMGet ready for sports
3:30 PMSoccer practice
5:15 PMGo back to dorm, shower and change for formal dinner
6:00 PMFormal dinner until about 7...then study hall from 7 30 to 9 30
Weekend
9:30 AMWake up and read some English homework
10:15 AMEat brunch
11:30 AMLeave for soccer game
4:00 PMReturn to campus and shower
5:00 PMWatch movie with friends
7:00 PMEat dinner
7:30 PMHang out in dorm rooms
8:30 PMGo to Mulligan's open house
11:00 PMCheck-in: must return to dorms
12:00 PMGo to sleep
Read more details about The Thacher School on their 2018-19 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
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  • Review Description
  • The Thacher School Alumni #1
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars  
    Pitzer College
    The tight knit community is a really rare quality at high schools in general but especially boarding schools. The relationships with teachers and students is so close and the fact that there is very few. . .
  • The Thacher School Alumni #2
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars  
    University of Montana
    The horse department at Thacher is both unique and outstanding. Unique because the school strives to keep the cowboy culture alive with over 100 horses and a fully outfitted western riding center. It is outstanding. . .
  • The Thacher School Alumni #3
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars  
    Yale
    I loved Thacher because of the deep, respectful, and genuine connections in the community. Students, faculty, and staff were all so supportive to ensure I was the happiest and most challenged I could be. During. . .
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