Sibling at Home

Being a boarder at Exeter is a truly unique experience that is different for everyone you meet. For example,  I have a twin brother Patrick who goes to school back in Arizona. Living at Exeter means that I’m not able to spend time with him on a daily basis. It was a major change for me in terms of my high school experience, but I have been more than able to stay connected with him throughout the school year. My friends back home and my twin have a Skype group that keeps me up to date on what’s going on back home. The friends I had before Exeter are still some of my best friends, and Exeter has only added to the relationships I’ve been able to nurture.

On breaks, I’m able to spend quality time with both my family and friends. Last break, my brother and I threw a surprise party for our grandmother’s birthday. We baked a cake together and helped to tend to her town-famous garden.

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My brother Patrick took time off from school to come see some of my lacrosse games this spring. He even knows some of my Exeter friends, and sometimes we all talk together over Skype.

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All sibling situations are different, but I’ve been able to make mine work by staying as strongly connected as possible. What I saw as an initial challenge for my Exeter experience turned into something positive!

Winter Formal

Winter formal – the perfect event to kick off our upcoming stretch of school. The arrival of such an event brings a little light and a touch of formality to the otherwise slightly dreary winter term. Winter is fully upon us now and this past weekend, students still seemed to be in the “winter break” mindset. Luckily, WPEA, our student run radio station, provided the perfect solution. Winfo! 

My Saturday schedule played out as usual: wake up, eat a bagel, consider doing homework and then not doing it, until I began to get ready for winter formal with my friend. Since we became friends, we’ve had a fun tradition of ordering sushi from a local restaurant and doing hair and makeup together. What can I say? Getting ready is one of the best parts!

Finally, after our outfits were complete, we braved the cold on our way to the dance with the rest of our group in tow.

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Me with friends

The dance itself was crowded, but had such an exciting atmosphere. We started in the lobby of the building, waiting in a long line to get our picture taken. After that was done, we gravitated towards the food, which was in a nice spread across many tables. I stayed there for a bit, chatting with my friends, before the music started.

To begin the night, a student run jazz band, called the Big Red Blues, played. One of my good friends was playing the saxophone, so I made my way over to watch the performance, making sure to cheer extra loud, they played for awhile, keeping the crowd of students excited.

Seeing everybody dressed up was wonderful. As a school, we don’t have many formal events, so it was a fun change from the norm. I’m someone who will enjoy getting fancied up  at any given chance, so for me it was pretty fun to see everybody around me in formal attire.

 

I also made sure to tell all my friends how lovely they looked.

When Big Red Blues finished playing, that’s when the dancing started. Usually for our dancings our school brings in a DJ, but this was formal and WPEA, like last year, brought in a live band. They thanked us for coming and told us they had driven eight hours to play for us! Then, they began their set.

“Winfo” is my favorite event for this reason – It’s a good time! The band was extremely talented and played songs that everyone knew, and I danced the night away, shouting out the lyrics with a group of friends. The night moved by so quickly, but I could tell nobody wanted it to end.

(Shoutout to WPEA for making winter formal happen!)

 

Ice Skates and Lingering Bruises

Last week was one of the tougher ones I’ve had this year – I had five major assignments due, a crazy rehearsal schedule, and by Sunday I was a bit worn out, to say the least. However, at the end of a long week, of which there are plenty here at Exeter, my dorm head planned the perfect event!

The weekend did invigorate me, despite its unavoidable craziness. My Saturday began with a two-hour Mock Trial meeting from 7:30-9:30 am, next I had rehearsal for the Musical, “Two Gentlemen of Verona” from 10-1, followed by rehearsal for a separate musical, “Next to Normal”, from 1:30-3:30, and finally a  third rehearsal for a show I’m in called “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”.  After this I had dinner and watched a Netflix Documentary with my friend. From her room we went to the theatre to produce two shows going up that weekend in the Black Box Theatre through Exeter’s theatre club DRAMAT. Phew.  Each show I am in is different from the next and rewarding in new ways. I’m getting the opportunity to explore character, movement and song through some spectacular pieces of art.

That being said, I was pretty tired come Sunday. Luckily, my dorm had planned for six or seven dorms and houses on campus to go Ice Skating.

We met outside of the Science Building – around one hundred of us bundled in coats and scarves, a few of us carrying ice skates. We loaded onto buses and in twenty minutes, we were pulling into a parking lot in the nearby town of Portsmouth, NH. The rink was beautiful. It was shaped like a peanut, and in the center of one of the round parts was a fire pit surrounded with benches. Those of us less acquainted with winter sports waited in line to rent skates. Slowly the rink began to fill – with hockey players racing around the loops, a figure skater or two doing spins and elegant twirls, the people who could skate, and then the people like me: people who had no idea how move their skates on the ice. Luckily we, the uncoordinated ones, have amazing and talented friends who help us. Across the rink were couples holding hands, one floundering and the other supporting both their own weight and their friends’.

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I slowly started to get it, and was less of a burden to my friend. Of course right when I got confident I proceeded to flop onto the ice. It was a pretty funny sight: me floundering on the ice. The people around me sang a chorus of, “Are you ok?”s and offered various helping hands. My friend helped me up, holding back laughter, and helped me slide over to the firepit. We sat on the benches and laughed. The light danced across the faces of our classmates as we talked. Then the ever anticipated cry came from my advisor – “PIZZA’S HERE!”

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I believe we ended up finishing 40 boxes of pizza between us. We got some hot chocolate, skated a bit more and headed back to campus. Only the next day did I see the green and yellow bruise forming on my knee. A colorful reminder that bad times always get better and my community is always here for me.

BOSTON trip!

Hi all,

I hope everyone has been back to the swing of school work and sports after the winter break. I know that all my classes have definitely recommenced as if there had been no break and it’s hard to transition back! Luckily for me, a friend invited me to stay with her at a family friend’s house in Boston the first weekend back on campus. Let me just say, although we only had Thursday and Friday classes, the mini trip was much needed by the end of the two days. My friend, Sara, and I took the morning train to Boston and spent our time walking around Newbury Street and Prudential Center until suddenly, the snow started pouring down at around 3:00 p.m. Apparently there was a blizzard warning for the day and we had no clue! We ended up having to return to the house much earlier than we would have liked to before the blizzard fully hit. Luckily, we made it back before the roads were blocked from all the snow.

Even with the snow, it was so much fun! I’m a boarding student from California and although I’ve been here for three years, I always forget how cold it can get and how burdensome the snow can be — especially when it alters your weekend plans. We ended up staying indoors watching the snow pile up, baking cookies and brownies, eating ice cream by the fire and sipping on some hot chocolate. It was a picture-perfect “snow” day like in those from movies I saw growing up. In the early evening, we realized we didn’t have any food to make dinner, so the family took us to the nearest grocery store— in the middle of the blizzard, and can I just say, that was probably the most I have ever experienced a car slide in snow. It can get pretty bad in California during heavy rains, but it’s nothing compared to driving in the snow in New England!

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We spent the next day in Cambridge until we had to come back to Exeter for the night. It was such a fun getaway and I am so glad I was able to experience the trip in the snow with Sara. Even though we’d only been back on campus for two days, it was fun to have a new experience and share fun, new memories with my friend!

Whether you live in New England or somewhere snowy and can relate, or are from a sunny state like me, here are some pictures for all of you to enjoy! (picture credits: Rachel Luo)

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MLK Day: Exonian Encounters

Celebrating peace and equality for all. This is what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for. Here at Exeter, we have a day set aside to reflect on and discuss this topic. We get a day off to relax to share our experiences and ponder relations on campus and off. A few of our peers: Kesi; Carissa; Aidan; and Kelvin, all gave wonderful and enlightening speeches. Various music and step groups performed as well. Afterward, everyone moved on to the workshop they signed up for. I attended the Exonian Encounters workshop. Exonian Encounters is a group on campus dedicated to programming such events as this, among others, with students and faculty members at its helm. We did an exercise called “Walk the Line”, where the speaker asked a question, if it applied to you, you step over the line. It was a way to help us learn things about others we didn’t know, therefore bringing us together as a community. Next, we sat down in groups and discussed the different scenarios people are in throughout everyday life, and who’s disadvantaged or advantaged in that situation. We discussed how to help those who were at a disadvantage as well. Last, I moved to the Assembly Hall for the Keynote speaker. MLK Day was a great day to reflect and discuss something that impacts so many people everyday. In search of the true peace and equality King strove towards during his life.

MLK Day: Wellness and the Struggle for Justice

This past Friday we had our MLK day workshops here at Exeter. My workshop was called “Wellness and the Struggle for Justice” and was run by Kameelah Rashad from the University of Pennsylvania. She talked a lot about what to do when something happens, whether on a large national scale, or on a much smaller personal scale, that upsets you or disrupts what you believe is right.

Something I found very interesting was her idea that to go about a world where negative things happen more than we would like, you need to dig a well of joy and protect it. This well can be comprised of people that make you happy or make you laugh, places that make you feel safe and happy, or anything else that can help protect you from negativity. It was an excellent reminder that there are lots of positive things in the world and as long as you look for them, you can find them.

Later in the session we all got up and started to talk to people we’d never met or weren’t familiar with in the room about our responses to the workshop and any personal stories that were related. I got to meet lots of people in the room that I’d never spoken to and got to learn more about them and their stories, which is a theme that continued through the rest of the day as well. After we talked to each other in small groups, we came back as a whole group and had the opportunity to ask Ms. Rashad questions and have a discussion. During this we talked a lot about how to approach discussions with people who have different opinions and what to do in situations similar to that. I think getting to hear how other people react to conversations about such important and emotionally charged conversations was helpful in learning how to make those conversations better. Overall, I was really happy with my choice in workshop and how it played out. The fact that we have a day like this here at Exeter is something I think is very important and beneficial for everyone.

MLK Day: Short Film

On the Friday before MLK day, our school hosted a number of really insightful and interesting speakers to come and impart some of their knowledge on us. I signed up for a discussion surrounding the 12 minute German short-film Schwarzfahrer, starring Exeter alum Paul Outlaw. We viewed the piece, which acted out an instance of xenophobia perpetrated by an old woman to a man on a routine train ride. How cool is it that we had an Exeter alum come talk to us about a short film (which by the way, won an Oscar)? He discussed how his time at Exeter had helped him to get on his career path of acting and musical performance, as well the intricacies of the industry itself. Also, in the spirit of our MLK day  discussions, we talked about how he as an African American male, felt about the social awareness of the acting industry. At the end of the session, Mr. Outlaw shared some cool pictures and stories from his time at Exeter, as well as pictures with some of Hollywood’s past A-listers at the Academy Awards!

Opportunities like this to have a dialogue and discussion do not come very often outside of Exeter, and I feel truly blessed to be able to partake in the freedom that this school provides in that regard.

 

The Holidays are Here!

As the cold fronts come in, so too does the holiday spirit!  From the dining hall to the dorm, signs of festivities can be found all over campus.

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This particular decoration was in Wetherell Dining Hall

First things first, what would the holidays be without music?  On the Friday before winter break, our concert band, jazz band, acapella groups, symphony orchestra, and choral groups graced us with both wonderful renditions of classic holiday songs as well as a few new twists (see below!).  The holiday concert is held nearby in Exeter High School’s auditorium, and there are buses to take students to and from the performance.  What I really like about going is getting to see and experience this terrific event with teachers, my fellow Exonians and their families, and people from the town of Exeter.

Those performing included our Jazz Ensemble, acapella groups, Symphonia, Concert Choir, Concert Band (counterclockwise from top left), and more!

One of the many fun events hosted on campus during the holiday season is the gingerbread house competition.  Students form teams to try and make the most artistic, clever, and, don’t forget, stable gingerbread house.  The event is supported by local bakeries who provide the gingerbread and icing for each group.  The Student Activities office supplies the candy.  Grainger Auditorium in the Phelps Science Center was almost completely full with students having fun with friends, teachers, and staff while architectural masterpieces were being created, huge messes were being made, and more than a few marshmallows were being surreptitiously eaten.  My team’s plan was to set up the house structurally first and then begin with the fun part: decorating!  We dubbed our décor “business in the front, party in the back.”  The event ended with icing everywhere, a few toppled houses, and prizes going to the top three teams.

Coming from the South, I was not prepared at first for the early arrival of snow.  However, I have since learned that there is a large positive that comes with snow: epic snowball fights!  The best one, by far, happened as my three friends/teammates and I walked out of the gingerbread house-making competition.  Two of our friends were crouched and waiting with snowballs in hand.  I ducked and ran our sugary creation into Grill in the student center and returned outside to join in the fight!  We formed our teams and aimed for each other using a snow bank as a dividing line.  About half an hour and a few frozen hands later, we all went inside to warm up with big smiles on our faces!

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Finally, one of the biggest holiday celebrations on campus is Secret Santa.  Most of the dorms call it “angeling.”  In some dorms (mostly boys’ dorms) it is a one-night affair, but in others (mostly girls’ dorms), it spans days.  In wonderful Hoyt Hall, we chose names out of a hat and prepared gifts to give our “mortal” to whom we would play “angel” over four days during the last week before winter break.  While staying within a chosen monetary limit, we left gifts for our mortals over the first three days, building up to our big reveal on Friday night!  I’ve found that people can get very creative: from decorated rooms to monogrammed blankets to a note from each girl in the dorm.  On the final night, everyone has one chance to guess before being told who their angel is and being given their final gift.  It is always a fun time in the dorm with all of us together, and there is always lots of laughter.