The Governor's Academy
(formerly Governor Dummer Academy) - Review #5

The Governor's Academy
(formerly Governor Dummer Academy)
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled Boston College
Home Town, State (Country) Rye Beach, NH
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School During my time at GDA, I was involved in many activities on campus. I was co-editor of the yearbook, a member of the school’s discipline committee, a FLIP (Freshmen Leadership Incentive Program) leader, a head tour guide, and president of GDA’s chapter of the Harvard Model Congress. I was also active in community service, played tennis, and participated in the Outdoor Program. I sang in chorus during all my years and worked in the theater department for one season.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Governor Dummer Academy (GDA) benefits immensely from its talented and dedicated faculty. Nearly the entire faculty lives on-campus and all are constantly available to all students- both day and boarding. The faculty at GDA are remarkable. They are much more than brilliant teachers, talented coaches, and dedicated advisors. They become trusted friends to most of the 365 students. GDA’s size also allows for an intimate atmosphere. Nearly everyone is friendly on campus. From students to the grounds staff, you’re sure to receive many smiles and friendly hellos as you walk the beautiful Byfield campus. GDA is more than just a school. It’s a family of devoted faculty, talented students, and a remarkable staff that come together to create a place that is unlike any other.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
While at GDA I was able to develop and stretch my self in ways that I had never before imagined. The environment allowed me to be comfortable enough to push myself, and not being afraid of falling short because of the support network that existed. GDA allowed me to grow as a scholar, a leader, a friend, and a teammate. When I set foot on campus, I had no idea that when I left four years later that I would have been able to excel in so many different areas. My story is not unique either. Most people that graduate from GDA share a similar sentiment. GDA pushes teenagers to become responsible and well-educated adults. It is a task that is not simple, but GDA has created an environment that makes it easy for its students.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have spent more time in the dorms. I feel that as a day student I was often eager to go home at the end of the day and that I could have taken advantage of more of the boarding students that were there at school with me.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The best thing about GDA is the sense of community that exists between students, faculty, staff, and the administration. GDA is unlike any place I have ever been before. I did not realize just how special a place it was until I had left. I miss the familiar smiles from people passing you on the sidewalk and the impromptu conversations that I had with people that I encountered throughout the day. GDA truly became my home while I was there. I still keep in touch with many of the faculty and my classmates, which shows just how strong that sense of community was at GDA.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Take advantage of all that your high school has to offer. Try something new whenever you can. Those four years fly by and they'll be over before you know it- even if it doesn't seem so when you're studying for that accelerated chemistry exam.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The class size at GDA makes learning a very personal experience. With small classes and astute teachers, it was always necessary to be on top of my studies. Although the environment in many of the AP, advanced, and honors classes was competitive, it was not overly so. I always enjoyed working with my classmates and never worried that I was going to be “competing” with them for the top spot in class. The facilities at GDA also make for rich learning experience. New classrooms and innovative technology throughout campus made for a learning experience that rivals many college campuses. Once again, I come back to the faculty as my favorite part of GDA. They are truly amazing and worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had the chance to learn and do their very best.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Athletics at GDA were an important component of the afternoon program for many students. I chose to participate mainly in recreational activities such as the outdoor program and community service. I did, however, play JV tennis for four seasons and found it very enjoyable. I had knowledgeable coaches who were dedicated to improving my game and the ISL provided strong competition.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
With the completion of the New Performing Arts Center and the new pottery wing of the Kaiser building, GDA has shown its commitment to the arts. Every concert, theatre production, and student art show was always packed with students, faculty, and parents who were eager to see what new creations GDA students had painted, photographed, or otherwise created. During freshmen year, all students are exposed to a new art medium each quarter, which is an excellent introduction. There are many art classes available as well as independent studies, which many students pursue during their junior and senior years. Drama productions occur each season (fall, winter, and spring) and art classes and independent studies are available each semester. There is plenty of art to be had; you just have to decide which type you’d like to try.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
GDA had extracurricular activities to suit every student. From community service opportunities, recreational sports clubs, multicultural groups, and school clubs, there was always something in which to participate. The hardest part for me was deciding which activities to join. Each activity or club usually met once per week and was mostly student run. There was support from a faculty advisor and the student activities coordinator, but students, especially juniors and seniors were encouraged to serve as leaders. GDA also encouraged the creation of new clubs and worked hard to accommodate the needs of each group.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Since I was a day student, I did not have extensive dorm experience. I did have many friends that were boarders and the only noticeable difference between day and boarding students was that I went home each evening and they went to their dorms.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The Dining at GDA was fantastic! A full salad bar with everything imaginable, decedent desserts, and hot home-style meals was the norm. The dining hall was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday. The staff was fantastic and always willing to go the extra step to help anyone out. The food was always great and the atmosphere was pleasant too.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
While Byfield is a rather rural area, just up the road about 10 minutes is the city if Newburyport. This quaint coastal city has many restaurants and shops. It is the perfect compliment to the beautiful salt marsh setting that surrounds GDA. Boston is just about 45 minutes south of GDA and is the destination of frequent trips including the Boston Ballet, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, etc.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life at GDA is complimented by the mix of day and boarding students. Since all students are on-campus until at least 5 PM, there is plenty of opportunities for socializing. Since the school is just under 400 students, I knew who almost everyone was. I was very close with over half my class and still stay in touch with them even today. GDA allowed me to build relationships with people, both students and faculty, which I will have for the rest of my life. Some of the more routine socializing that occurs is your typical high school lunch and after school types, but in addition, there is much comradely built with teammates and through service work. GDA allows you to grow in many ways, and learning with one’s peers is a critical component of the process.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
7:30 AMMorning Meeting with Headmaster
8:00 AMFirst Class (Spanish IV)
9:00 AMSecond Class (Honors Pre-Calc)
10:15 AMThird Class (Accelerated Physics Lab)
11:30 AMChorus Practice
12:30 AMLunch
1:00 PMFourth Class (AP English)
2:00 PMFree Period- Library or work on yearbook
3:30 PMTennis Practice
5:30 PMClub Meetings
Weekend
10:45 AMDepart for Away Tennis Match
1:00 PMAway Tennis Match Vs. ISL Team
4:30 PMArrive Home from Match
5:00 PMDinner
6:30 PMHang out with Friends and then head home

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