Groton School - Review #13
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2002-2005|
|Sports and Activities:||I played football (spiritual leader my senior year), basketball (JV captain), and lacrosse (JV captain). I worked at the student diner Scudder's which I was one of the manager's of my senior year. I served on the Student Activities Committee, was an Admissions Prefect, and was a lead in a one-act play (which won an award).|
|College Enrolled:||Ohio Wesleyan University|
|Home Town, State:||Washington DC, DC|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Two aspects of Groton that makes the boarding school experience unique relative to other boarding schools is the student body and structure of the community.Groton puts forth an extensive effort to select diverse students, faculty, and staff. While most of the student population at Groton is from a similar socio-economic background, there are students from low income neighborhoods and foreign countries which greatly adds to the learning experience. I was a low income student of color and some of my fondest memories of Groton was learning about the different lifestyles of my classmates and making friends with students, faculty, and staff that I would have never had the opportunity to meet. Of course, being from different backgrounds meant that there was some conflict but learning that similarities exist beyond color, finance, and geographic location was a lesson that changed my perspective on the world.Groton is a very close knit community. This can be aggravating at times because it feels like everyone knows everything about everyone but there is also a sense of family and community that comes with it. This support system is genuine and helps greatly when obstacles occur in student lives (academic, social, or personal). At Prize Day (graduation), it is obvious how close-knit the community is when the students from all grades and faculty say goodbye to the seniors. There is a genuine bittersweet remorse amongst friends and foes because it is like a family member moving away.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me in boarding school is developing the confidence that I could do anything I desired with hard work and dedication. Looking back on Groton and all of the hardships, both academic and social, I can say that having that mentality that nothing can stop me was greatly strengthened there. I learned what it took to succeed in a grueling environment which I think is an opportunity that most students don't have. I was surrounded by brilliant students and was forced to keep up because falling behind was not an option. Coming from the inner city, everything at Groton came as a shock to me so my experience is fairly unique (new cultures, academic structures, requirements, etc.) but I believe that the achievement felt from graduating is something that we all share regardless of race, religion, or background.Another achievement for me was learning that genuine love and compassion for your fellow man can happen regardless of background. My senior year, we were unable to play our final games due to a snowstorm. The seniors were so upset that we all rallied outside of the headmaster's house at night to express how much our final games meant to us. The headmaster, faculty, staff, and seniors all grabbed shovels and cleared an entire field for us to play on. We never got to play our final games but I would argue that the memory of this moment was stronger. I'm smiling just writing about it.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
The best piece of advice I would give to a kid going to boarding school is to never forget who you are before attending but never let that person that you are stop you from trying new things. The boarding school experience is a safe haven for learning, friendship, and growth which is almost impossible to achieve outside of a boarding school atmosphere. Peer pressure existed but the campus was a safe place to grow.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Groton was filled with the wealthy elite but most people at Groton wanted to talk to one another, learn, and grow together. Of course there were people who were mean but, for the most part, those people were ostracized. Everyone had left home and wanted to establish a new home with a new family which I appreciated because, inside the walls of campus, we were all students in a new environment. I had friends from all walks of life and we laughed, cried, and yelled about the same things. The faculty were there to help and the staff were there to do the same thing as well. It was truly a blessing to be in an environment like that where the caste/class systems of the world did not have as big of an impact. One of my very dear friends was a part of country club so elite that they didn't accept John F. Kennedy in because he was Italian. The fact that we shared a room and became friends for a decade after graduating is an example of what Groton offers. Freedom from the structure of world to grow and become an active member of everyday life.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Be outgoing. No matter what happens with peer pressure, academic strife, homesickness, or any other hardship, know that there is someone there for you and they don't have to look, act, or know anything about you.And buy ramen, popcorn, and 5-hour energy...the teachers may not agree but they are survival foods during the toughest times!
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academics at Groton are rigorous to say the least. I remember countless nights cramming for exams, finishing reading, or finishing papers while drinking energy drinks and resisting the urge to play games with my dorm mates who were doing the same thing. There were times when it was brutal but Groton made my college experience feel like child's play because I had done it so many times before. I will also say that one of the aspects of Groton's academics that I enjoyed the most was the freedom to incorporate creative thinking and ingenuity into most assignments. This meant that we had to apply a high level of effort into a project but also apply independent perspectives. Of course, this freedom to create opinions could be incredibly frustrating when a thought could not be supported with enough text but it honed my ability to create opinions that required extensive support (a skill that I use to this day).Another aspect of Groton's academics that I liked was the necessity to collaborate with classmates to complete tasks. This camaraderie helped develop teamwork skills which, again, I use to this day. Teachers made themselves available as much as possible (especially dorm heads who were happy to open the doors to their home to help students in need).
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Groton's athletic program caters to the needs of students. I had never played organized sports before attending Groton and, thankfully, their team structure made this okay. Coaches at all levels were supportive and the desire to compete and win exists at all levels. The diversity of sports was refreshing as well. I did not play them for the team but being able to play squash, hand ball, soccer, tennis, and even crew for fun gave which me an opportunity that I cherished. Instead of playing baseball, I played lacrosse which I greatly enjoyed. One downside to sports at Groton is that it is very difficult to compete in team sports with most other schools because Groton has a small population. There were times when our football team was less than half the size of other teams. Another downside is that Groton is a school focused on academics which makes it increasingly impossible to focus on sports without sacrificing what little social time was available. Finally, most of our coaches are our teachers which meant that the skill level of the coaches varied. Some coaches were excellent and some were not....either way, the coach was not going to change.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The visual arts, music, and theatre programs at Groton are very strong. The facilities are fairly new and staff were solely dedicated to their craft. There weren't many students who participated but the ones who did were very good. One issue to mention is that there is not much diversity when it comes to musical options. For example, I was a proficient trombone player before attending Groton (my jazz ensemble played at many events around DC) but the only option was classical music which killed my love of the instrument. I put it down and never picked it up despite my passion before attending.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There was very little time, if any, for extra curricular activities at Groton. After class, we went straight to sports, then to eat, socialize (1-2 hours), study, sleep, and repeat. On Saturdays, after class and our games, there was the opportunity to attend a weekly school dance where the school diner was open to serve food and drinks. The dances were fun most times but the repetition of life at Groton (or any other boarding school) can take a toll. For a student like me who was hyper social, I found myself yearning for a new activity which couldn't happen. Of course, I knew that I was attending Groton to hone my academic skills and not to socialize but hearing other tales of high school antics from students who did not attend boarding school made me realize how boring Groton could seem. The school put forth an effort to provide a change of scenery from time-to-time (ex: surprise holiday which was a random day off to take a charter bus into Boston and roam the city) but, in my opinion, Groton is not the place for extracurricular activities.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Many of my fondest memories of Groton took place in the dorm. A brotherhood is developed that year and memories are made. Some memories I look back on with a smile and some I look back on and remember how upset I was. There are personalities of all kinds which have to cohabit for the year. This turned friends into foes and vice versa. Our seniors are called prefects and it was their job to manage the dorm when the dorm head, a faculty member, was not present. Students looked to each other for academic help, emotional guidance, and friendship. The memories made in the dorm are some that cannot be broken. Just this year, I was a groomsman in the wedding of a close-friend that I made while we were in the same dorm. Even though we didn't see each other much after graduation, we did keep in touch and I believe that it was the memory of the strength of our friendship that awarded me the honor of being in his wedding party alongside childhood friends and day-to-day friends.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
We complained about the food all the time but, looking back, the food at Groton is excellent. Meals are freshly prepared by chefs which are healthy and tasty. There are "sit-down dinners" which require students to wear formal attire and there were informal dinners where friendships grew over meals. There was a sandwich making station (Chuck will never be forgotten), salad station, plenty fluid options (no soda), a dinner with a few meal options and a desert. If I could go back and grab a plate from time-to-time, I most definitely would. There was also a small store in our nurses office that sold microwaveable items and candy for the nights when ramen and studying made more sense than spending time in the dining hall. On weekends, students were even allowed to order food from off-campus locations (pizza, subs, etc.)
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
When I attended, there was zero connection between Groton and the community. Day students with cars would drive us into the city sporadically to purchase items from some stores but, in all honesty, we referred to the townspeople as "townies" and there was an informal negative culture when referring to them. It could have been a superiority complex that we had but I also think that the townspeople felt that we were snobs. This is all speculation though since we did not communicate.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
After sports and dinner, there was a one hour window to have "intervis" which is inter visitation between male and female students. Dorm heads kept a watchful eye but it was refreshing to visit a potential girlfriend or spend time with a current one. With the hectic school schedule, it was almost impossible to date and spend time with friends who lived outside of the dorms. Groton was so focused on academics that, outside of the allotted times to socialize, very little of it happened. On Saturdays, we threw dance parties and we had a Student Activities Committee who planned events throughout the year but our focus was not at all on having a social life. We didn't even have a prom (the seniors put together a makeshift one but nothing like the real thing). As a hyper social person who, to this day, socializes frequently, I did wish that there were more opportunities but the reality is that we were too busy working.
|7:00 AM||Get up, get backpack ready for the day, WASH, and get dressed.|
|8:45 AM||Morning announcements at Hundred House|
|9:00 AM||Classes start (college schedule so there is free time during the day)|
|5:30 PM||Head to dinner|
|7:00 PM||Intervis (date girls/boys or relax with friends if possible)|
|10:00 PM||Check-in with dorm head and say goodnight.|
|1:00 AM||Finally get to bed after studying is complete|
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