10 Things to Do at New England Boarding Schools

Boarding school students are often asked why they chose this alternative to public schools. In general, boarding school provides students with more opportunities and experiences, provides a supportive environment that fosters learning and success, challenges students to try new things, and gets you involved in the community. And, for students attending schools in New England, well, there’s lots to do!

Want more? Here are 10 things that you can do at New England boarding schools:

1. Make new friends, from all walks of life
One of the unique aspects of attending boarding school is the chance to study and live with students from around the globe. These diverse communities introduce you to new cultures, new languages and new ideas, not to mention new friends. Cheshire Academy, a private school in Connecticut, is home to students from 35 countries and 20 states.

2. Reach for the Stars – and succeed
It’s not uncommon for your academic classes to challenge you more than ever, but there’s support to help you succeed. Small class sizes means you are never lost in the crowd and there’s no hiding in the back row. You’ll receive personal attention from teachers, who are available outside of the normal academic day – sometimes even at breakfast or right before check-in time! Plus, you may find yourself involved in myriad projects, like competing in math competitions, taking national language tests, solving the world’s problems in Model UN, and building engineering projects that will literally take you to the edge of space. The AP Physics class at Cheshire Academy, taught by the famed Mr. Ray Cirmo, sent a weather balloon and camera to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. Just wait until you see what Mr. Cirmo’s class does next!

3. Break a Sweat – and maybe win a championship
Many schools require that students participate in competitive sports, regardless of experience. From beginners to the most advanced players, there is something for everyone at boarding school. Here at Cheshire Academy, there are more than 40 athletic teams to meet the needs of our student athletes, including our championship-winning teams for football, volleyball, basketball and softball. Plus, many varsity teams can help you get noticed by college coaches, increasing your chances of getting recruited to a top athletics program. In the fall, the New England weather provides crisp afternoons for playing outside. Winter dictates indoor sports like basketball and swimming, but spring brings more outdoor teams, like softball, baseball, tennis, track and lacrosse!

4. Demystify the College Application Process
Not only can a boarding school help you get noticed by college recruiters, it can also help you find the right college and help you through the often daunting college application process. Part of the boarding school experience is the opportunity to work with qualified college counselors who are trained to guide you through this process and find the best school for you. Cheshire Academy welcomes over 100 colleges and universities to campus annually for small group meetings and even a large College Fair in the Spring, which includes a chance for students to participate in mock interviews. Plus, New England is home to numerous colleges, from Ivy Leagues like Harvard and Yale to competitive state schools like UMass and UConn, making college visits convenient.

5. Create a masterpiece
Boarding schools are home to extensive arts programs, ranging from the tradition fine and performing arts classes like music, theater, drawing and painting, to the more advanced digital art classes, including animation and digital photography. Most schools require that students take at least a few art electives, providing well-rounded experiences. So, stand in the spotlight and show off your Shakespeare skills, sing your heart out in a concert, join the rock band, try your hand at spinning a bowl in ceramics, delve into the world of digital imaging and animation, design a dress, create a self portrait out of wood and metal … the possibilities are endless. Plus, the local art scene in New Haven is extensive, including the Yale Museum of Art. And, New York City and Boston are right around the corner, as is Mass MOCA. So much creative inspiration!

6. Get your hands dirty (for a good cause)
Boarding school is more than just academics, sports and arts. It’s a community, and that means being a responsible and productive member of that community. Schools often offer community service activities, both on and off campus. You may find yourself planting flowers or manning the recycling efforts on campus, or even helping to maintain a local park or volunteering at local events. Cheshire Academy will periodically hold Community Service weekends that involve the entire campus community in bettering not only the immediate campus, but the surrounding community, and some students get involved with the Community Service group after school. Not to mention that many Cheshire Academy students have been known to get involved with the local Special Olympics organization.

7. Visit another Country
Grab your passport, because you just may find yourself boarding an airplane for an international flight. You may have the chance to take part in a school-organized trip to another country. Trips to foreign countries are popular at boarding schools for language-immersion experiences and service learning as well as sightseeing and general exploration. Or, you may receive invitations to spend vacations with your boarding school friends at their homes abroad. With easy access to international airports, New England boarding schools are in prime locations!

8. Explore the city and the country.
Boarding school is all about adventures. Maybe you’ve never been to a major city, attended a Broadway show or tried a certain cuisine. Maybe you’ve never lived in a more rural setting and hiked through the woods. Attend boarding school, and you just might check all these activities off your bucket list. With student activities ranging from arts and entertainment to dining and outdoor adventures, there’s always something to do. At schools like Cheshire Academy, you get the best of both worlds. The campus is centrally located to New Haven and Hartford, CT, and is just a short trip to New York City and even Boston. Weekend trips to these popular cities happen regularly. Plus, Cheshire Academy’s campus spans more than 100 acres! Take advantage of the opportunity to get outside, walk our trails, visit the pond, breathe some fresh air and get reacquainted with nature.

9. Be a Leader
Taking on leadership roles is par for the course at boarding school. From athletic teams and art activities to student government and clubs, there are ample ways for you to get involved as a leader in your boarding school community. If your school doesn’t offer a club or activity you’re interested in, you can often start a new one.

10. Learn the art of living independently
From waking up on time to doing your laundry, living at a boarding school gives you a chance to live in a structured community that simultaneously promotes independence. Time management skills developed here will serve you well throughout life.

Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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