Mercersburg Academy - Review #1

Read more details about Mercersburg Academy on their 2018-19 profile page.
Mercersburg Academy
5

About the Author:

College EnrolledUniversity of Pennsylvania
Home Town, State Yardley, PA
Years Attended Boarding School3
Activities During Boarding SchoolI wrote and edited our weekly paper, performed in theater productions, edited our literary magazine, sang in the Chapel Choir, lead a women's activist group, assisted my peers as a Language Media Center Fellow and Math Center Fellow, declaimed in a speaking competition, and participated as a delegate in Model UN competitions... among other things. It is easy to get involved at Mercersburg - you can even start your own club.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Mercersburg has an incredibly beautiful campus. It is a place for reflection as much as anything else. The gothic chapel is designed by the architect who built Princeton University's chapel, and it carries a rich history. It is the kind of place that is hard to leave. Mercersburg also has an exceptionally large endowment. Our alumni network is very loyal and really cares about our school. This allows Mercersburg to be constantly innovating and investing in its campus and faculty. Last year marked the opening of our new field house, and we just broke ground for the new aquatic center.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The friends I made... as cliche as that sounds I met people from all over the world and looked about so many different cultures and outlooks on life. If I had gone to public school, I would have stayed in a bubble of bland suburbia. Instead, I feel like I have many homes across the world.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have branched out more socially. Sure, Mercersburg gives students the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, but some students like myself tend to spend most of their time with the same people. You get a very tight-nit group of friends that way, but it is important to reach out to different people. To get the full experience, you need to get out of your comfort zone and start conversations. At the lunch table ask people questions about their day, and make sure to hang out in the student center. People at Mercersburg are welcoming, so don't be afraid to meet new people.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The opportunities I received, the sanctuary I lived in, the places it took me. What more can I say?
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
If you want to blow off some steam, try going on walks down those country roads around campus. Oh, and make sure to spend some lazy weekend breakfasts in the dining hall that turn into lunches. Time at Mercersburg flies by pretty fast if you don't take a few steps back from your busy schedule and live in the moment.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Overall, academics are great at Mercersburg. The best part is the small class sizes and the dedicated teachers who are almost always willing to help you outside of class. Many classes are discussion based and set up Harkness style, and the typical class has around 13 students. Mercersburg offers a range of honors and AP classes, so there are plenty of options for different skill levels. There is definitely variation in the level of difficulty and the amount of homework assigned for each class. Honors math students have to do a lot of work, but honors English students have a fairly light load. I took some of the most challenging classes at Mercersburg and generally found things manageable - around 2-3.5 hours of homework depending on the night.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I did not participate in the athletics program, but my brother had a great experience. We offer a range of sports each term at the JV and Varisity levels. Mercersburg participates in the MAPL league with other mid-atlantic prep schools, so there is plenty of competition and athletes often go on away games to other schools.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The Burgin Center for the Arts is a first-class facility, and Mercersburg has outstanding resources in the arts. Stony Batter, the theater group, puts on three productions each year in our fantastic theater. Our dance program is incredible, and dance is a rare for a boarding school to offer. There are fantastic studio art and ceramics classes. Students can study music in Chorale, Band, Orchestra or an a Capella group, as well as take private lessons. Practice rooms are available, and someone is always filling the building with music by playing the grand piano at the entrance.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There is a huge range of extracurricular and leadership opportunities. Many groups have great faculty advising and funding from the school, particularly our theater and dance programs, athletics, newspaper, and yearbook. There is undoubtedly something for everyone, and many people are involved in a range of activities.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I loved always having friends around. Every dorm has faculty members on each floor who help make the dorm feel more like home. Everyone is assigned an adviser affiliated with their dorm to check up on us and provide support. I always felt welcome to drop by my adviser's room for a cup of tea or a game of cards. Not to mention, there are prefects on each floor that mediate conflict and organize events. Sometimes our dorm would throw a spontaneous pizza or ice cream night, and there was always something fun going on.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Dining hall food is provided by a service called SAGE, and I was really impressed with the offerings. Every breakfast has an omelette bar, and every lunch and dinner has a salad and sandwich bar in addition to the daily entrees. There were also lots of vegetarian options. Mercersburg has family style meals for every weekday lunch and Monday night dinner, which means that students and faculty members sit in assigned seats and eat together at tables of 8-10 people. Mercersburg even has a whitecoat/bluecoat system where students are assigned to bring the food out and clear the dishes. The other meals are buffet style for eating with friends. I love that everyone eats together - there are always friends and teachers stopping by the table to catch up, and it really fosters the sense of community at Mercersburg.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Mercersburg is located in a very small Pennsylvania town about an hour from Harrisburg and Gettysburg and two hours from D.C. What that means is that although there are plenty of school-run trips off campus, most of your time will be spent on campus. I often went on outings with my friends to the local pizza place, the coffee shop, the dollar store, and the fast food restaurants that are within walking distance from school. The town is historical and a bit run down, but there are definitely places to go exploring. (Like the antique stores and used book store.)The school subsidizes trips to D.C. and New York for different activities and classes like Studio Art, Model UN, English, and U.S. History. I was lucky enough to get to go to D.C. twice and NYC four times on Mercersburg's dime while I was a student.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Social life at Mercersburg can be very fluid and flexible. What that means is that it is easy to make new friends. There are no traditional "cliques," although the swimmers and actors both have tight-nit groups. Students often hang out after dinner and on the weekends. The Student Activities Council throws events each weekend like mall/movie trips, dances, casino nights...etc. What I like is how welcoming Mercersburg felt. It is difficult to feel excluded when everyone has friends from all over the world.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
7:30 AMWake up
8:00 AMHead to breakfast
9:00 AMStart classes
12:00 AMEat lunch
12:30 PMHelp period
1:00 PMStart afternoon classes
4:00 PMHead to PGA (Performance Group Activity
6:00 PMPGA ends. Dinner time
7:00 PMWork on homework/go to activities or meetings
11:00 PMBedtime
Weekend
9:00 AMWakeup/workout
10:00 AMLazy brunch
1:00 PMGo to library/arts studio/play practice
4:00 PMHead to One North for coffee
6:00 PMDinner in dining hall or at Romeo's
8:00 PMWatch movie/hang out with friends
12:00 PMBedtime
Read more details about Mercersburg Academy on their 2018-19 profile page.

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