Mercersburg Academy - Review #3

Mercersburg Academy
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled College of William and Mary
Home Town, State (Country) Herndon, VA
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School Student Government (class president for two years, student body president), Prefect, Tour Guide, Newspaper Editor, Wrestling captain (3 years), Irving Society officer (3 years), rock climbing, baseball, President of Grill Club, some involvement in dance program

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One of the most defining aspects of Mercersburg Academy, and one of the most significant parts of the school in my experience is the number of ways they encourage their students to either travel or focus their studies on a global scale. Despite being located in rural, south central Pennsylvania, the academy has branded itself as being located in "the middle of everywhere," and for good reason. Just within the school, the diverse student population creates a global environment in every classroom and invites a variety of perspectives and opinions. Faculty encourage students to think big for projects they work on, often utilizing the extensive alumni network that spans the entire world as a direct resource. In addition, every year, Mercersburg offers a large number of travel abroad programs led by their own faculty for the students to visit other countries. In some cases, they may be for a certain class, such as students competing in a robotics competition in Japan, or earning a biology credit by studying in Costa Rica. Other scenarios include traveling to Spain to go rock climbing and surfing, or going to Oman for a student leadership symposium. Most commonly, these trips focus on allowing students to experience the different cultures of the world. These opportunities allowed me to grow as a student and as an individual in ways I don't think would have been possible had I not taken advantage of these opportunities.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
One of the best parts of going to Mercersburg was that it helped me discover my passion for rock climbing, something I don't think I would have found had I gone to a different school. One of the school's mottos is "define yourself, here", an idea that's spoken true for me. The number of unique opportunities this school has offered me has left me with zero regrets about attending this school for four years. I've been given the opportunity to learn, travel, meet amazing people, and have unforgettable experiences.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
If I could redo my Mercersburg experience, I would come in with the mindset that I want to try new things. Mercersburg will constantly offer unique experiences that will force people to step out of their comfort zone and grow as a person. In order to get the most of your Mercersburg career, you have to be willing to take advantage of all these opportunities. You'll be really busy all the time, but in the end, it'll be worth it.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
While it may seem kind of cliche, my favorite part of Mercersburg was the community. As a whole, the community is unbelievably supportive and caring, and acts as a large part to making Mercersburg such a great experience. After four years in the school, I know I have created life long friends among the students, teachers, and other faculties. Since graduating, I've stayed in contact with so many people from Mercersburg. I even have a snapchat streak of over two hundred days with an old teacher! Whenever I return to campus, I get the same feeling as when I come back home. It's hard to find a community as warm as the Mercersburg family.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Do at least one season of Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE). I think it's the most underrated aspects of Mercersburg and it has so much to offer. It changed my life by introducing me to rock climbing, and it could change yours too.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I believe I grew a lot as a student at Mercersburg because the academics are taught in a diverse, and innovative environment. Since the community is so tight knit, I had teachers that genuinely cared about my performance and would go out of their way to ensure my understanding of the material. Many teachers live on campus, eat meals with students, and spend leisure time in the same area as the students. This proximity allows students to build bonds with their teachers and ask for help whenever any is needed. The diverse student population provided each classroom with unique perspectives that gave broad views on many subjects. Finally, Mercersburg constantly tries to improve its academic system to ensure it is an interesting environment for their students. For example, I was able to take a course specifically about global food issues and write a paper about the various styles of grilling in different cultures. It was a fascinating and fun project, but it always made me hungry.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The school requires every student to participate in one Performance Group Activity (PGA) per trimester. They offer a variety of options, but the most popular option is athletics. They offer many sports at different skill levels, from varsity to junior varsity to thirds. The competitiveness depends on the sport, but for the most part, coaches encourage students to participate fully at all times. One often overlooked program Mercersburg Academy has to offer is their outdoor education. This is a very high-quality program that provides students with the opportunity to learn rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and winter mountaineering. I personally took part in the rock climbing program offered, and it has allowed me to develop a passion for the sport even after I had graduated from the school. The outdoor education is an amazing offering in Mercersburg that I think is really unique.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The arts facilities available at Mercersburg are high quality since the Burgin Center for arts was built recently in 2006. The school takes a lot of pride in their arts program and it is reflected in the community. The dance program consistently has upwards of 30 dancers per trimester, the theater program is able to produce 5 shows per year, the music program often performs for the school during community gatherings or concerts, and the school highly supports the visual arts by frequently showcasing student work throughout the Burgin. There is a requirement for all students to take at least two art classes before they graduate that could be anything from ceramics to acting to dance composition.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Mercersburg offers more than enough extracurricular activities to fill every student's schedules. Much like any other school, they encourage students to join organizations that interest them, or start clubs if the school doesn't already offer one. Outside of student run clubs, the school offers many opportunities for students to be involved in the community, like prefect-ship, being a tour guide, or library proctor-ship.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Living in a dorm really allows students to grow close to each other, especially with your roommate. After your first year, everyone is allowed to choose their own roommates, or opt for a new, random roommate. The faculty who live in the dorms often have events for the students living in the dorm which can be a lot of fun, like weekly indoor soccer nights or nights where they bring food for everyone. My favorite activity was when my dorm ordered nearly 500 wings from Buffalo Wild Wings and feasted.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
I was a fan of the food here. For the most part, they served good meals or had enough side offerings, like the sandwich bar or soup, so I wasn't left hungry or disappointed. The school definitely knows how to make desserts. Their chocolate chip cookie pie is crazy good. I'm drooling just writing about it. Also, I found the breakfast to be top notch with made-to-order eggs every morning. I was definitely satisfied in during those meals.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
The campus is located in a rural surrounding that doesn't have much around it. The views can be very pretty, but the immediate town is small and doesn't have too much to offer among shops or restaurants. The school does its best to accommodate by offering fairly frequent trips to other nearby towns that have more shops or restaurants.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life can really depend on how much effort you put in. It isn't too difficult since about 85% of students board, so on weekends, you can find most people either hanging out in their dorms or in the student center. The school will often have planned events for students to attend if they want, like guest performances, movie nights, or dances. In a small school like Mercersburg, you really create strong bonds with friends that will last for years and years.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
8:00 AMWake up
8:30 AMBreakfast
8:45 AMGo to class until lunch
12:00 AMLunch
12:30 AMHelp period
1:00 PMClasses until 3:40
4:00 PMAfternoon activity practice until 6:00
6:30 PMDinner
7:00 PMHang out with friends until study hours
8:00 PMStudy hours
Weekend
10:00 AMWake Up/go to breakfast
12:00 AMStay in dining hall until they serve lunch
1:00 PMGo workout in the gym
3:00 PMGo back to my room, watch movie with roommate
5:30 PMGo to dinner
6:30 PMHang out with friends in student center
8:00 PMStudy hours/procrastinate with roommate
12:30 PMGo to sleep

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #1
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars   10/18/2017
    Duke University
    Opportunity and Community were the two buzzwords that largely encompass my Mercersburg experience. What lies between these two speaks just as loudly. There is a certain "presence of the present" that exists at Mercersburg that. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #2
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars   10/24/2017
    Georgetown University
    Building a sense of community is definitely a theme throughout boarding schools, but how well Mercersburg cultivates community sets it apart. Students are required to participate in an afterschool activity every term and since the. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #3
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   8/28/2017
    College of William and Mary
    One of the most defining aspects of Mercersburg Academy, and one of the most significant parts of the school in my experience is the number of ways they encourage their students to either travel or. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #4
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   12/3/2016
    Tufts University
    We have sit-down meals everyday of the weekday. The tables rotate every two weeks so you really get to know different faculties and students. We also have Irving-Marshall week, so students are divided into two. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #5
    Class of 2013
    5 Stars   12/17/2016
    Hillsdale College
    This school is one-of-a-kind. I could seriously write for hours. I guess one thing that really stands out above all the rest of the amazing parts of this school is the Burgin Center for the. . .
  • Show more reviews (11 reviews)
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