The Day Student-Boarding Student Thing (Is Not a Thing)

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Here at Exeter, about 80 percent of the students are boarders who live in the dorms, but 20 percent, including myself, are day students who live at home and commute to campus every day. Coming into prep year, I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit in with the boarders. Now, I can say that the majority of my closest friends are boarders.

I spend a large amount of my time in my best friend’s dorm room, whether I’m keeping my sports bag in her room, doing homework, spending the night or just hanging out. In fact, I spent so many Saturday nights in her room last year, that this year I stored an air mattress under her bed. 

The girls in her dorm have gotten to know me from seeing me around the dorm, and lots of them treat me like I’m actually a resident. Even the dorm faculty know me by name, and are rarely surprised when I ask to spend the night. One of the seniors in the dorm is one of my favorite seniors, and I know she’s always there for me if I need her, just like she would be if I were actually a member of the dorm.

A few weeks ago, the dorm talent show coincided with a night I was staying over. I ended up being pulled up onto the stage to join an improv dance act by a friend of mine with whom I had done dance this past fall. It was unexpected and really funny! I love nights like those where the whole dorm is hanging out because the girls never fail to include me and make me feel like one of them.

All in all, as a day student, there’s no reason to be worried about becoming friends with boarders. On campus, there really isn’t a big difference between the two. 

— Ingrid Bergill ’19

Why I Love My Adviser

As I leave behind my final winter term and transition into the much-anticipated “senior spring mode,” I find myself spending more and more time reflecting on the people and aspects of Exeter that have gotten me to this point. Immediately, I think of my adviser, Ms. Joanne Lembo.

Every new student at Exeter is appointed a faculty adviser. Advisers meet with their advisees weekly to check in, answer any questions and discuss current events both on and off campus. Students can meet individually with their advisers as necessary. According to the E-book, Elauren-picturexeter’s big book of rules and policies, “students are encouraged to consult their advisers both on school affairs and on personal issues. Through communication with the advisees’ parents, the adviser supplies an essential link between family and school.” This drastically undersells the importance of the adviser-advisee relationship — certainly in my case.

Advisers fill the absence of parents, guide students through their time at PEA and provide help and support in any way necessary. Advisers typically live in the same dorm as their advisees, making them even more accessible to students and strengthening the bond between the two. The adviser-advisee relationship ensures that every student has an adult on campus with whom they feel comfortable.  

My adviser, Ms. Lembo, has been extraordinary. She often goes above and beyond the requirements outlined in the E-book. From the moment I stepped on campus, Ms. Lembo has been the first person I’ve turned to with questions or concerns. I text Ms. Lembo at least three times a week (probably a few more than necessary), and she always responds immediately with solutions. She and my mom communicate weekly as well, and Ms. Lembo offers updates and answers any questions my mom might have.

Last year, when I complained about missing my town’s Mardi Gras (a big deal in my Louisiana hometown), Ms. Lembo and her wife planned a Mardi Gras celebration in her apartment for the entire dorm. We replicated the celebration this year, and Ms. Lembo surprised (and amazed) me by baking homemade king cakes.

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This little reminder of home meant more to me than she will ever know.

Recently, when a health scare required that I be admitted to Children’s Hospital in Boston, she dropped everything, drove me and stayed until I was settled in a room at 11 p.m. The entire time I was in the hospital, Ms. Lembo worked with my teachers and the deans, making sure I could transition back into classes easily after a week off campus. I could never thank Ms. Lembo enough for everything she did for me during this time. 

The adviser-advisee at Exeter is a special one. Ms. Lembo and her wife and daughter welcomed me into their home and became my family at Exeter. I am forever grateful for Ms. Lembo and her family. The relationship we formed will last long past graduation.

P.S: I hope everyone had a fantastic Mardi Gras (I celebrated twice!!).

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Exeter: For Richer or Poorer

At a recent assembly, Aida Conroy ’09 spoke about her time as a student at Exeter. She explained, as many alumni had before, how Harkness gave her a voice. Then she said something that resonated with me:

“The greatest letter I received wasn’t my acceptance letter. It was my financial aid letter.”

A clamor of snaps rang through the audience (typically, if a speaker makes a particularly good point, students in assembly snap to show their approval. The practice began during poetry readings and has expanded to around the Harkness table). Forty-eight percent of students at Exeter receive financial aid, and I am lucky to be one of them. Exeter’s billion-dollar endowment allows it to meet all demonstrated need for applicants.

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I applied to Exeter during my freshman year at the public school near my house. When I received my admittance letter, my parents looked at the smile on my face and said, “Wait. Don’t get excited until we found out about financial aid.” We waited, and two days later I found out I would be able to attend the best high school in the country.

My friends and family joked that when I got to Exeter they would make the financial aid students do the dishes. Obviously this was hyperbole, but my friends back home still wondered how I would hide the fact that I receive financial aid. I was dumbfounded. I felt and feel no pressure to hide my financial aid, and I have never felt prejudice from any students. In my close friend group, half of us are on financial aid, half of us not. It changes nothing. If anything, it’s a testament to the incredible socioeconomic diversity Exeter can afford to ensure. No one thinks about their friends in terms of their financial status. Rather, we all respect each other’s backgrounds.

I have a friend from home who says “I just don’t like private schools. I don’t like the kids, the vibe.” That bothers me. It bothers me because at Exeter, I have met the most amazing people, and had my eyes opened to some of the toughest social issues faced by my generation. Students at Exeter discuss gender issues, political differences, and face diversity head on. There is an awareness about the world that extends beyond the Exeter bubble. There are affinity clubs for all students to join, and the conversations never end. At breakfast, in dorm rooms, or walking to class, students argue, debate and help each other become aware of current events and issues. You not only learn about the world, but how to discuss it with others.

I admit I was scared to come to Exeter. I knew I’d have a lot of work to do, and most of all that I would miss my family. I held it together until I had to say goodbye to my cats, and then boom. Waterworks. I was scared I wouldn’t fit in.

I got here and it didn’t take long to realize I was right about the workload and wrong about everything else. I do miss my cats, but I call them every night. And I have a family on campus. I can walk into dining hall and there will be a girl from my dorm, a friend from a class, or a fellow member of Fem Club.

As for that “vibe” on campus my friend from home mentioned? It’s inclusive, it’s exciting and it creates space for conversation and learning.

Fun in Town!

Even though we have had three big snowstorms this winter, we Exonians can’t be kept indoors.  We all make our way through the snow together to go to games, campus events, or hot spots in downtown Exeter.  Downtown has everything we need and a lot of what we want as well.  There are great places to eat: everything from a Chinese restaurant, to a sandwich place, a Mexican restaurant, a lovely restaurant, a bakery, and many more.  If you’re craving something cold and sweet, Stillwell’s ice cream is famous for its delicious large servings and friendly people.  
 
The flower shop and the bookstore are two of my favorite places to stop along the main street.  We also have a music store, comic book store, home décor shops, antique store, gift gallery, and more.  Since they are all locally owned businesses, you get to know the owners well if you are a regular.  D2 Java, the local café, is a favorite of many Exonians and a good example of this.  The people who work there often remember the orders of some of my friends and I as soon as we step through the door.  At the Inn by the Bandstand, the Innkeeper and co-owner both enjoy meeting Exonians, hosting them for tea (see below!) and being local contacts for international students. 

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What I love about the town of Exeter is that it is not separate from the Academy at all.  The town is easily accessible and you will find a student or teacher, probably more than one, at the café, bookstore, or walking down the main street at any given hour of the day. 
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Tea at the Inn by the Bandstand

Winter E/A

Hey everyone!

This past weekend was Winter E/A, the renewal of the sports rivalry between Phillips Exeter and Phillips Andover. The faculty surprised us during assembly with a flashmob to Whip/Nae Nae by Silento, all dressed in red. It was really funny to see all of your teachers who you see, for the most part, in a professional, classroom setting dancing up on stage (Check it out here).

Also on Friday was pep rally. Winter pep rally takes place inside the gym and lots of dance groups perform. The varsity teams also go up and introduce themselves, perform a skit, or do something to entertain the audience and make them want to come to their games. This year, varsity swimming held a relay race between each class (which the lowers won) and girls varsity basketball held a shootout to win a package of mac and cheese and Swedish fish.

On Saturday, I started with girls varsity basketball, which was the first game of the day, and unfortunately the only varsity team to win.

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After basketball, I headed over to girls hockey, checking in on the JV girls for a few minutes before moving to varsity. JV won 17-2 but varsity lost 7-0. After girls hockey, I stayed to watch the boys, who lost 5-2. Boys basketball was the last game of the day and though Exeter held a lead for a while, Andover eventually ended up winning.

Even though the scores weren’t what I would have liked I still had a great day. This time, I ended up screaming enough that I left the gym with a very scratchy voice and woke up Sunday morning with a sore throat from screaming too much. E/A is one of my favorite parts of the year, and I love getting to watch the school come together to support its teams.

-Ingrid

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Boston Women’s March

 

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Hey guys!  

On Saturday, I took a bus with Exeter’s Feminist Club down to Boston for the Women’s March. There were about 45 of us on the bus and even more students from Exeter took the train into Boston. Fem Club started our preparation on Wednesday night, during our usual meeting. We talked about why we were marching, how to stay safe at the march, as well as what makes a march or protest good. On Friday night we met again to make signs for the march on Saturday. It was so much fun being with a bunch of people who were excited to stand up for something they believed in. We were listening to music and helping each other brainstorm different phrases for our signs. Saturday morning we loaded onto our bus and drove down to Boston. My friends and I sang pretty much the whole way down which was really funny. When we got into Boston, we saw hundreds of people walking towards the march. There were tons of hats and amazing posters. We got lots of thumbs up for our feminist sweatshirts which we got as fem club gear. We got into the common in time to hear all the speakers, my favorite being Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator. Then the actual march started and as all of the 100,000+ people tried to leave we got a little stuck. We spent most of the slow push to the actual march route talking to the people around as, explaining our sweatshirts, asking about why we were marching, singing along to the music and taking pictures of all the incredible signs. When we actually got out of the common onto the street there were tons of people lining the streets, on the balconies of their apartments, in their buses, on the corners, even people who had climbed light posts to cheer us on. Our group stopped marching at our bus because we had to head home but we stayed on the street and kept cheering and chanting for everyone who was still marching. We got a lot of compliments on our signs and smiled for lots of pictures. It was an incredible day and I’m so glad that I had the chance to be a part of history.

-Ingrid

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!)