Miss Porter's School - Review #1

Miss Porter's School
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled William & Mary
Home Town, State (Country) Farmington, CT
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School Because of the athletic requirement, I played on the volleyball and squash teams. I also played in the pit orchestra for school musicals. I was an active member of Model UN, volunteer groups, Student Council, the Academic Honor Council, Tour Guides, and other smaller groups such as Film Club and Women's Leadership Forum.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Miss Porter's has unique traditions unlike any other school aimed at including students and making them feel like part of a campus community, such as the school ring tradition. Part of the fun is learning about these traditions during your time at Porter's, so I can't say much. However, they are all special and create a unique and inclusive campus culture. Another unique feature of Porter's is InterMission, a three-week interim period between Winter Break and the Spring semester. Students choose a course and delve into that subject area for the three week period. When I was a student, Freshmen did service-based courses, Sophomores focused on nature, Juniors had internationally-oriented programs, and Seniors did career preparatory work. At the end of the three weeks, there is a school-wide symposium in which students present what they learned in their courses. They instituted this program my Sophomore year. In my Junior year, I was on the first international trip offered by the school. I traveled to Ireland with ten of my classmates to learn about the history and culture. In my Senior year, I took an Art History career course and went on trips to New York and Boston to meet with industry professionals. InterMission was one of my favorite parts of my Porter's experience because of how much experiential learning I was able to do.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
As a Freshman, my work habits were okay, but not remarkable. I felt like I was falling behind in classes. It took personal motivation for me to improve. By the end of my Freshman year, I began to do better in my classes. I feel that I flourished academically, especially in my Junior and Senior years, due to the work habits I gained at Porter's. My peers, teachers, and workload motivated me to manage my time better and improve the quality of my work. I was fully comfortable being myself and being a leader in the classroom and community. Despite occasional struggles, I would not change my Porter's experience. I found myself at Porter's and developed a voice that I have carried with me to college. Every Porter's student is valued for her individual qualities and accomplishments. I became a leader with finely tuned academic abilities by the time I graduated.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
The biggest piece of advice I have is to commit to your studies early on. Putting in extra time to your work will really pay off. It might seem scary to leave home at such a young age, but all Porter's girls are living proof that it is worth it to go to boarding school. As long as you make the most of your time, you will be fine and go on to fantastic colleges and careers.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
If I can emphasize one thing, it is the teachers. They come to Miss Porter's because they believe in the power of girls and genuinely care for them. They have very high expectations but only so that students challenge themselves to grow. I had one teacher who was at the school for 40 years, a testament to how much teachers love the school. I found that all of my teachers cared about me personally and made themselves available to me whenever I needed them. I transformed from a shy, unsure student in the classroom to a discussion leader and high honor roll student, partly due to the impact of my teachers.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Porter's is a very special place and a day does not go by when I don't think about it. If you choose Porter's to be your high school, it will quickly become your home. I have made incredible friendships and connections that will far exceed my time at the school. If there's one place I can recommend checking out, it would be the Farmington River that runs behind the school. It is a beautiful spot to visit and is highly underrated. We used it for experiments in my Biology and AP Environmental Science classes. I would highly recommend visiting for an afternoon to relax, take pictures, or write.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Above all else, I credit my teachers with my success at Porter's and beyond. Teachers at Miss Porter's care deeply for their students' success. Whenever I had a problem or confusion about the material, my teachers made themselves accessible to me. I can say without a doubt I always felt supported by my teachers. The small classes allow for students to interact with their teachers on a fundamental level. I was always able to speak up in class and interact with the material in a way that made me a better student. Expectations are very high at Miss Porter's and I had to adjust to the workload, but I don't believe my teachers' expectations were out of reach for anyone to achieve. Expect an intense workload, depending on which courses you take. In my earlier years, I had between 2-3 hours of homework per night. By Senior year, I took three Advanced Placement courses and had roughly 3-5 hours of work per night. Everyone's experience is different and my workload was more than many of my classmates'. There are a wide variety of classes available in all disciplines. Because it is a smaller school, there are not infinite options, especially for electives, but I always had the opportunity to take both the classes I was required to take and the ones I wanted to take for fun. Miss Porter's is competitive to the extent that students feel the need to make themselves better. I never found students to feel outwardly threatened by their peers. I found it to be a collaborative environment in which we were all able to study and work together. A unique feature of Porter's is the emphasis on college prep in a way I have not heard from friends at other schools. Students are on-the-go from 8 a.m. until at least 9:30 p.m. when study hall ends. The amount of structure in a Porter's student's day is unmatched, from classes to afternoon activities to sit-down dinners to evening study hall. However, students still have the freedom to choose what they do with their time. There is a balance between independence and structure, allowing students to develop their work habits and fully prepare themselves for the type of work they will be doing in college.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I saw many changes and developments to the athletic program over my four years, including the installment of new turf fields. As of my Senior year, the athletic requirement was that students must participate in three team sports by the beginning of their senior year (including theater and managing sports teams). If not on a team sport, students must participate in an afternoon activity, such as yoga, fitness, or dance, every season. I was not very athletic but played on the Thirds (below JV) volleyball and squash teams. I also did yoga, pit orchestra for theater productions, fitness class, and dance class. I appreciated the wide variety of options available to me that kept me active without pressuring me to do a competitive sport constantly.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I took a film production class taught by the school's photography teacher and absolutely loved it. It was my only exposure to the visual arts department but found it to be creatively challenging. Other visual arts classes are Studio Art, Pottery, Jewelry, and Textiles. Many levels of the classes are offered. I was more involved with the music department and did orchestra and chorus. I know less about the theater department but know that theater productions are always very well executed for a smaller sized department. The visual arts department is wonderful and facilities are beautiful. The music department is on the older side (the building is old, music stands are often missing) and was run by one teacher when I attended the school, but teaching was still very high-quality. Art History is another popular offering. The school is undoubtedly committed to the arts and has a very accomplished staff of faculty members. We have many community arts events, including required performances, ArtsWeek, and art sales of student and faculty work. Students are required to take arts courses and most, if not all, seem to enjoy them.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked the range of opportunities available to students. I was able to try many different clubs throughout my four years and find my niche. If I had not joined Model UN, I probably would not be pursuing an International Relations major in college. Students have the opportunity to lead clubs and develop their leadership skills. As a member of Student Council and Academic Honor Committee, I felt I had a voice in making serious decisions on campus and leaving an impact on the school. Aside from academic and "fun" clubs, there are many alliances on campus that afford students of certain backgrounds and identities the opportunity to come together with their peers, including the Spectrum LGBTQ+ alliance, Black/Latina Alliance, Asian Student Alliance, and International Student Alliance. These are great organizations that engage the community in meaningful discussion and activities.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Rooms are usually a fair size and have one to two closets, as well as beds, desks, dressers, and book shelves for each person. There are mostly hall bathrooms but a few dorms have private bathrooms. It is rare to have air conditioning. For late night access, the dorms are locked (no keycard access) after 11 p.m. I believe and students must be in their dorm. House directors live in each dorm and check on students. Students must "check in" for the night every night to confirm they are not leaving. House directors are very responsible and accessible to students. In the first year, students are assigned a roommate but may choose their roommate every year after. It is very rare for students to transfer dorms. All dorms are mixed ages, except for one Freshman dorm with about 15 students and two Senior dorms that house all Seniors who choose to board. Students may have a single room or up to three roommates.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
There is one main dining hall where students have a range of options. There is always meat, a carb, and a vegetable, as well as a rotating specialty station. There is always a salad bar, sandwich bar, fruit, and cereal. I believe the dining hall is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and always has some form of food and drink out between meal times. All dining hall food is free to students. Everything is nut free and there are gluten free, vegetarian, and other restricted options for students. Students can sit anywhere they want, except for six tables that are reserved for Seniors. Underclassmen may sit at Senior Tables if a Senior invites them to sit there. The quality of food is okay, but sometimes it can get repetitive or is not all that appealing. On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Fall and Spring, there is Sit-Down Dinner. Students are assigned to sit at a table with other students and a faculty member. They dress in formal clothes and two students from each table are assigned to be waitresses. It is a way for students to engage with others that they do not know and foster community.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Farmington is a relatively small town. There is very little in walking distance, other than Truffles Bakery, Naples Pizza, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts if you're willing to make the trek. Because their days are always full of work and activity, students generally don't venture too far off campus during the week. On weekends, the school organizes trips to local places, including the mall, the movie theater, local shopping plazas, and other events. Town life can get boring and repetitive for boarding students but it is by no means unbearable.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Generally speaking, social life at Miss Porter's is accepting and good. Students are inclusive of each other. The one trend I have noticed among multiple classes was that one "supergroup" of friends formed in their junior year and solidified in their senior year. This usually consisted of 20 girls who were more socially active and exclusively sat with and talked to each other outside of class. However, that's not to say they were unkind to others outside of the friend group. I had a solid group of friends but was generally friendly with most people in my grade. I seldom felt pressure to conform to a certain look or attitude and was able to find myself over the course of high school. Porter's has many events with Avon Old Farms, a nearby all-boys school. It is a way for girls to get to know their male counterparts, but interaction is limited to things such as social events, Prom, theater productions, and the track team.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Miss Porter's School Alumni #1
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   12/10/2016
    William & Mary
    Miss Porter's has unique traditions unlike any other school aimed at including students and making them feel like part of a campus community, such as the school ring tradition. Part of the fun is learning. . .
  • Miss Porter's School Alumni #2
    Class of 2012
    5 Stars   9/11/2012
    Smith College
    I would definitely have to say that something unique about Porter's is the connection between Alumnae (called "Ancients") and students. The ability to talk about shared experiences and traditions across generations is something I rarely. . .
  • Miss Porter's School Alumni #3
    Class of 2010
    5 Stars   3/19/2012
    Providence College
    Traditions! There is nothing like the kind of bonding that a Porter's girl gets from the traditions she will experience during her 4 years at MPS. The traditions are kept a secret up until a. . .
  • Miss Porter's School Alumni #4
    Class of 1999
    5 Stars   7/21/2008
    Dartmouth
    Miss Porter's School is a school built on tradition, and a common goal of achieving excellence. We have mandatory community service hours, rigorous classes, excellent sports, and most of all a community that truly cares. . .
  • Show more reviews (-1 reviews)
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