Portsmouth Abbey School - Review #5

Read more details about Portsmouth Abbey School on their 2021-22 profile page.
Portsmouth Abbey School

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School: 2009-2013
Sports and Activities:Abbey Singers, Varsity Soccer, Varsity Ice Hockey, Student Council, Varsity Baseball, Debate Club
College Enrolled:Ohio State University
Home Town, State: Lincoln, NE

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Portsmouth Abbey, located on the gorgeous Rhode Island coast overlooking Narragansett Bay is alone in its communal culture. While other boarding schools offer the same aspects of community, I maintain that Portsmouth Abbey creates a bond between faculty and student unlike any other peer schools.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me in boarding school was probably being chosen as a prefect in the dorm my senior year. This I felt raised me to a higher standard, with responsibility for the younger students in the dorm. It also made the faculty house parents more like colleagues and we worked very closely with them to assure the dorm ran smoothly. It wasn't always easy but I feel it was extremely influential in my formation to the man I am today.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My advice for students just entering boarding school or thinking about it is to try everything. Be open to trying a new sport or taking a class you never thought you would have. Go out for a play. Introduce yourself to people and make connections. I don't think there is any way you can do too much of any of these things. At boarding school, you meet people from all over the country and the world, and it would be a waste not to get to know them since this is such a unique opportunity.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
As above mentioned, my favorite part of my experience was the connections I made. I am still closer with my friends from the Abbey than from any other experience in my life. Also, I still communicate regularly with faculty members that I had as coaches, teachers or dorm parents. I can honestly say that my teachers were my friends and I trust them in the same way. I look forward to my breaks form college to hang out with my friends from the Abbey.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
I would say definitely check out Dr. Bonin's classroom beneath the student center. It is kind of hidden from plain sight but really that just makes it cooler. Inside, the classroom literally just smells like knowledge. I can't really describe it beyond that, but there are tons of leather bound books and busts of scholars and quotes on the wall. Beyond that, the art building is really neat and if you can get onto the deck on a nice day you won't be disappointed.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Most classes are taught following the 'lecture method' style of teaching. Classes are kept small which I felt both brought me closer to my classmates as well as gave me the individual attention I needed to learn the material. The Humanities program was my favorite aspect, as it covered a range of literary, philosophical and religious works all in the course of my sophomore year. The class was very work-intensive of course but I feel as though I came out with a breadth of new knowledge that I might have missed out on going to another school. It is in this class that I developed the analytical writing style that held me in good stead throughout college and still today.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
No matter who you were in the classroom or in the dorm, everybody participates in some kind of after school activity at the Abbey. I was strongly drawn to athletics, as were many of my friends. I think the junior varsity programs were the greatest aspect of the Portsmouth Abbey athletic program. They did a phenomenal job of making students feel like athletes, teaching them the skills of the game with the intention that they would one day play on the varsity, even if they had never held a squash racket or kicked a soccer ball.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Each of the three semesters, the Abbey players put on a show directed by Mr. Bragan. In the fall would be a drama, the winter a musical, and the spring a comedy. The most exciting thing about it was the Friday night performance, in which the whole school attends (mandatory) to see their friends perform. It was always great to see your friends playing different roles and feeding off the energy of their classmates. As far as the visual arts, our Art Building is gorgeous. It is a converted barn from the days when the Abbey was actually Portsmouth Priory, an all boys school. Now their is studio space and gallery showings from our talented fellow students, and it is interesting to see that skill in such a beautiful setting.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
I was involved in student council and Abbey singers. We were always busy at the Abbey because there are so many clubs and many people are involved in more than one thing between school and sports and study hall. In many cases, students cold very easily start their own club as well, simply getting a faculty member to sponsor them. Most clubs meet one to two times per week during a designated meeting period. I think the most popular club was the Student Events Panel, who planned and put together school functions like dances and events, and they were always really fun.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Living in a dorm is unlike anything else at that age. In college, you find that most people have never lived in a dorm before and are unaccustomed to sharing so much personal space. Coming from the Abbey, the transition was easy. In the dorms, we always had a roommate and dorm events like pizza nights and holiday parties. I especially liked when the whole dorm would gather on Sundays to watch NFL games. I was always closest with the guys in my dorm, and how could you not be? These are the people you live with and study with for shared classes during finals week. Also, we have competition throughout the year for the Raven Cup, which is a competition between all the dorms to earn points through athletic events and trivia bowls.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The Stillman Dining Hall's best feature was the round tables. This way, groups of students could all sit together and talk facing each other, which I think is the arrangement was planned. I always thought the food was good but many of my friends were much pickier. However, there is always something offered for people who didn't want the daily hot special, such as soup, cereal, a sandwich station, salad and plenty of drink choices. Honestly, many people spent hours just hanging out in the dining hall with their friends, joking and studying between classes.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Portsmouth doesn't offer much of a social scene but Newport was right down the road offering plenty of shops and restaurants to escape to on the weekends. However, most people chose to stay on campus, as that's where everyone would always be, and like I said the community here is very strong. Of course, the view of the ocean was probably the Abbey's greatest selling point. It really is gorgeous, especially at sunset and we would often play frisbee on the great lawns facing the water, even going in for a dip when it was hot.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life of the Abbey was omniscient really. Honestly, you were rarely alone seeing as you would always be in the dorm, in class, in a club, on a sports field or doing homework with your roommate. But, the thing that sticks out the most in my mind is the Tuck Dances. These were extremely fun and occurred a couple times per semester. The whole school would pack into the Tuck Shop and dance for a few hours, and often times the DJ was a student as well.

Daily Schedule:

8:00 AMclass
9:00 AMclass
10:00 AMassembly
11:00 AMclass
12:00 AMlunch
1:00 PMclass
2:00 PMclass
3:00 PMsports/afternoon activity
5:00 PMdinner
8:00 PMstudy hall
Read more details about Portsmouth Abbey School on their 2021-22 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Saint Johns College
    Portsmouth Abbey is very different in that the community of the school is very close-knit due to its size so you really do get to know everyone there. It’s also catholic so weekly mass as. . .
  • Arcadia University
    At Portsmouth Abbey School, the community is so engrained with basic Benedictine values that are so evident in the vibe of the campus. When yo was around everyone says hi to each other and is. . .
  • Bowdoin College
    One thing that makes us unique from other schools is our religious aspect. We were founded by a Benedictine Catholic monastery that still is active, and it influences campus life. We have mass every Sunday. . .
  • Show more reviews (2 reviews)
Recent Articles
Thinking about making a major gift to your school? How about endowing a faculty chair? More here.
American boarding schools have always welcomed international students. Rigorous academic programs, extensive athletic programs, and a wide range of extracurricular activities attract students from all over the world.
Admissions to boarding school is a process with many components. The process can be confusing to parents dealing with boarding school admissions for the first time. We guide you through the process.