Mercersburg Academy - Review #7
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2012-2016|
|Sports and Activities:||Varsity Soccer, 9th-12th grade. Team captain 11th and 12th grade. Varsity Lacross, 10th-12th grade. Team captain 12th grade. Washington Irving Literary Society, 9th-12th grade. Historian 11th grade, President 12th grade Dormitory Prefect (RA) 12th Grade Yearbook staff, 10th-12th grade. Co-Editor in Chief of Yearbook, 12th grade. Academy Tour Guide (Blue Key), 9th-12th grade.|
|College Enrolled:||Hobart and William Smith Colleges|
|Home Town, State:||Middleburg, Virginia, VA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Mercersburg had a rotating class schedule, and kept all classes under an hour. This way, students were able to learn for concentrated amounts of time, four hours a week, while not experiencing their least favorite class at 8 am every morning of the week. Additionally, Mercersburg created a unique capstone experience for all senior students. There are two different categories of options with a multitude of different classes to choose from, as well as freedom for the students to choose, along with a faculty advisor, a wholly unique topic that they are interested in exploring in depth. This capstone experience is work that is a preparation to move a step-up to a senior thesis project in college.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that I learned was independence. Going away to school at 14 years old is an intimidating thought, but the boarding school structure does not throw you in without anything for support. There are always teachers and advisors who become your friends and mentors and help you adjust before you know exactly how to do your laundry or what to do without your parents telling you what to do every single day. Independence is a gift, but learning how to use it is also a challenge. Going from boarding school into college was one of the best experiences that I could have had, as the steps of independence have allowed me to grow as my independence has grown.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My advice would be to meet everyone. You never know who will turn out to be your best friend, who will turn out to be your lab partner, or turn out to have the best movie advice on campus. Everyone at boarding school has a unique story to share, and I would encourage anyone going to find these unique stories, and find the perspectives that you will never find anywhere else.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Mercersburg was home. Even two years after graduating, I still miss it with all my heart and take every opportunity to go back and visit. With my brother graduating soon, I will have less opportunity to visit, but I will never forget the experiences that I had at this place. My love for my school - my home - can be summed up in the fact that when, one of my friends from boarding school visited me at college, a college friend of mine said "I have never heard of anyone who loves their high school as much you two". And it's true. No one loves their school more than Mercersburg students.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Enjoy everything. If you are visiting, understand that this school is more beautiful than most colleges and that the people there are nicer and more inviting than most people you will every meet in your life. And if you have already decided to go: treasure every minute from the moment that you step on campus, because it will go by much faster than you can begin to imagine.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The best part of the academics of Mercersburg was the professors. Every single teacher that I interacted with during my time there encouraged me to reach my full potential and explore more than just what was taught in class. We also do not use a GPA system or class rankings, therefore, the competitive nature that could have been brought out from knowing one another's standing in the class was mitigated. Additionally, though plenty of AP classes were offered, they were never forced upon the students - it was encouraged that we take as many as we thought we could, but not taking APs did not make you any less of a student in the professors eyes. The classes that were offered were diverse in nature and the breadth of offerings was deep. There was no reason that someone interested in science would be forced to take the highest level of history, and there were many options to completing the designated requirements set by the school for each subject area. The workload was never overwhelming, and the way that Mercersburg set up the schedule made plenty of time for doing work. The work steadily increased over the years at school, but it was also dependent on the level of classes that one took.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The athletics at Mercersburg was inclusive. Due to competing in two leagues, the teams often experienced both the highs and lows of being the most competitive team in one league, and usually the least competitive in the other. Logistics wise, the teams were always managed well and scheduled well by the athletic department, and the coaches clearly cared about all their players. The Mercersburg sport facilities are exceptional, in 2017 they completed a brand-new indoor track facility and will be breaking ground on a new aquatic center very soon. Participation in sports was never mandatory, and that was the beauty of it - individuals had a variety of sports each season to choose from, and if sports was not their thing, they had no obligation to compete. Additionally, Mercersburg provides an Outdoor Education Program that encourages participation in outdoor activities from hiking and rock climbing, to snowboarding and ice picking.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Again, the inclusive nature of the programs. Everyone and everyone, regardless of skill level, was invited to participate in anything they wanted. Additionally, Mercersburg's dance program is exceptional and provides ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, and interpretive dance styles to all participants. Even if you do not participate in the programs themselves, the shows put on by the Jazz Band, a cappella groups, Stony Batter - the drama group - and the dance program put on multiple performances a year so that everyone in the school can see their hard work and cheer them on as if they were on a sports team. And in fact, the dance concerts at Mercersburg are often called the most attended sporting events of the year. The school supports all the arts programs, and in 2006 renovated the existing arts building into a brand-new, state of the art center with two theaters, multiple rehearsal areas, drawing and painting studios, ceramic studios, a 3-D design and printing studio, and open spaces to display student artwork. Every student at Mercersburg is required to take four different arts classes, so the arts touch everyone in the community, and often inspire students to create even more classes than they ever thought they would.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Almost everyone was more than excited to get involved with Mercersburg. The best thing was that no one was forced to do anything they did not want to. The options of extracurriculars included community service, dance, yearbook, newspaper, student publications, sports, outdoor education, theater, and more. There was never a lack of opportunities and everyone had their own individual path that allowed them to explore their passions in multiple ways.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life was a community. Each individual dorm had its own unique feeling and residents within it, and the faculty living in the dorms with the students became bona fide parents. All rooms in girls residences were doubles, and most in boys rooms were as well, with the exception of a few triples. There are seven dorms on campus, and each had its own "snack closet" or pantry where students could buy late-night snacks or food to make for breakfast when in a rush to get to class in the morning. All dorms were outfitted with a desk, dresser, closet, and bed for each student, and many students took the opportunity to bunk beds and put couches and televisions in their room, making it into even more of a home than it was before. Each room was unique to its occupants, but everyone found it a way to make it their own. The room selection process was always clear and accessible, and it was fair to all students involved. Additionally, freshman or new students coming in filled out a typical roommate survey in order to match them with the best possible companion for a year.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Mercersburg has one main dining hall. In an effort to combat students skipping meals, Mercersburg requires family-style meals during all lunches and select dinners. While many might complain about this, it was one of the best and most unique aspects to Mercersburg. Every two weeks, the assigned tables for family-style meals would rotate so that you had the opportunity to meet new people across the school, not just in your grade. The hours were typical of meals and was always open for early risers on weekends. Breakfast was the best meal, simply for the made to order omlettes and the delicious coffee. The food all-around was good, and there were always options for vegetarians, and salad, soup, and sandwich bars for those who did not like the entree.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
The town of Mercersburg is small. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up in charm. There are a few local restaurants that students frequent, including Romeo's, home of zeppoli's and delicious pizza. There are a few inns and restaurants perfect for when parents come to visit, and within walking distance are some fast-food restaurants that students love to frequent on weekends. Mercersburg is within easy access of DC, Philadelphia, Hagerstown, and Baltimore, and students are provided opportunities to take trips to these areas, as well as chances to go to professional basketball, football, or baseball games.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life at school was all about community. Because it is a boarding school, social life is always contained to campus. However, boarding school is all about having fun with the people that you are with, and there were plenty of opportunities to do that, whether it be on the quad, football field, student center, or just hanging out in the dorms with your friends. Additionally, the school always planned activities for the weekend for students to participate in - anything from a hypnotist to casino night to an on-campus concert.
|8:45 AM||Head to the first class of the day|
|11:45 AM||After three classes, its time for lunch!|
|1:00 PM||After lunch and a break, its time for the last 2/3 classes of the day|
|3:45 PM||Classes are done! Time for extracurricular activities|
|6:30 PM||Dinner is served|
|8:00 PM||Study hours begin|
|10:00 PM||Sign in at your dorm|
|11:30 PM||Lights are encouraged to be out|
|9:00 AM||Wake up! Head to a weekend brunch before sports or other extracurricular activity|
|1:00 PM||Time to cheer on your favorite team in their MAPL match|
|4:00 PM||Afternoon homework or Netflix time|
|6:00 PM||Grab some dinner before going to hang out for the night|
|11:00 PM||Students must be back in their dorms|
|11:30 PM||Seniors must be back in their dorms|
|12:00 PM||Students must be in their own rooms|
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