Not that I have a flock of readers who desperately missed my entries about the library world or fresh produce, but I'm back to blogging. The tsunami that is the beginning of the private boarding high school year, welcoming back and settling in 640 students, has swept through this campus and my life. The students are mostly New Englanders but plenty come from around the U.S. and the wider world. In my advisee group, which meets once a week, I have kids from China, Switzerland, as well as Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and cosmopolitan Greenfield, Massachusetts (no disrespect to this fair city.) The past 4 weeks have been nonstop immersion - all teens all the time. Not to mention the abrupt transition those who work the academic year face, no time for summer vacation withdrawal when one slams back-to-school.
Boarding school life is an odd little subculture of the private school universe, which is itself tiny. Something like 1% of students in this nation (U.S.) attend a private school. I will wait for my retirement from working at this lovely and complex New England boarding school before writing (thinking out loud) about the experience in general and this institution in particular. But for the moment I will reflect on a rather lovely experience I had last evening, a unique boarding school high school moment.
I had ASA duty. Assisting with Student Activities. Translation: helping to chaperone weekend non-academic things for the young people. All faculty at my school are expected to participate. The ASA duty I was assigned to was helping monitor an "after hours" dodge ball tournament pitting dorms (divided along gender lines) against each other. I was dreading it. It started at 10 p.m. on a Friday night, which is when I usually hope to be in bed with a good book. But I showed up in the gymnasium as scheduled, along with 6 other faculty colleagues. The students had not arrived yet, so a couple folks started shooting baskets, and I ended up bashing a volleyball around with a few others. This was the sight that met the students as they sauntered in, us grownups playing.
One side of the gym was for the boys' dorm matches, the other for the girls'. Brackets drawn on giant post-it notes helped organize the chaos of adolescent warriors. Spectators crowded the sidelines as dodge balls hurled through space. I found my self jumping up, yelling and pointing whenever a caught ball sent another kid to the sidelines. Students not involved in the games or the spectating shot hoops and threw other spherical objects at each other.
In short, it was fun. I had fun. Spending an hour on a Friday night with a gym full of teenagers who were playing, talking, laughing, posing, running, sitting, shouting, watching, participating. It was an exquisite way to be with 100+ young people.
Image from: http://ccumc.net/407482.ihtml