What Would Holden Do? | Education Supplement | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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What Would Holden Do? 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:59 pm

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So why do parents send an 11-year-old to boarding school? There are a number of reasons why a young person can thrive in this environment. The first could be unfit social or family conditions in the home. In these circumstances, the child or young adult can learn better away from the home. There are also cases where some young people who have learning issues will benefit in boarding school environments. Indian Mountain is equipped to support these students and to give more attention to students with extensive tutoring, such as those with mild dyslexia. There are also parents who want to remove children from city environments. One particular parent brought her daughter to Indian Mountain because the 15-year-daughter was living in a metropolitan area and able to enter a bar without being stopped. “We like kids to be kids as long as possible,” Stubbs says. As in the case of the London mother, some parents find it difficult to offer round-the-clock support. Stubbs says that where he works he’s not just a teacher, he’s a fellow human being. “These students not only see me teaching math, but as a coach and a dorm affiliate,” he explains. “They are making connections with adults that can be appreciated on so many levels.”

Finally, therapeutic boarding schools are for kids with special learning needs or unstable home lives. These schools have staff trained especially for these therapeutic schools.

A variety of online forums can be found with discussions pertaining to boarding schools. A question was posed on www.47things.com from a sophomore asking a group of peers of their opinion of boarding school and their thoughts on a transfer. The responses were surprisingly well thought out for such young minds. One member says that, “although it was intense, it changed me immeasurably.” On the message board of a newlywed site, www.TheNest.com, married women discuss their experiences at boarding schools. The only non-glowing report was from a member whose husband had been a day boarder. She says that this made him feel like a “second-class citizen.” The thread hosts discussions of how these women would not have had opportunities to meet people of other backgrounds, races, and religions were it not for their years at boarding school. More than one had plans of sending their own children to boarding school. The tightly knit relationships that are formed are apparent in the online thread. One member speaks of the need to attend a Latin teacher’s memorial and another member tells of meeting her spouse at boarding school.

Katherine Pereira, 19, describes her experience at Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where she attended the last two years of high school. Enrolling was her own idea, and it initially shocked her parents. She had attended a summer school program at Portsmouth Abbey and “fell in love with the place,” she says, adding that, “I had a great two years at boarding school. Of course it was intense, and having class on Saturdays and mass twice a week took some getting used to, but I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun. How many kids can say that they used to hang out with a bunch of cool monks?”

As far as the negative points go, Pereira’s parents live in Puerto Rico and she was only able to visit for Christmas, spring, and summer breaks, which made it especially difficult when her father was diagnosed with kidney failure. But she states that this distance also made the relationship stronger. “It made me really excited to see my parents and get to spend time with them,” she says. “Plus, I had so much to tell them and so much to share with them. We also fought a lot less.” During the time that Pereira was attending the school, her first and closest friend that she made at school committed suicide on campus. Despite this she says, “If I were given the choice, I would do it all over again. I think nothing compares to the bonds that are made at a boarding school, whether with faculty members or fellow students.”

Boarding schools work to prepare students for college life, not only academically, but mentally as well. Pereira, who now attends Fordham University, says that boarding school made the transition to college a lot smoother and a lot easier. “I was already used to having a roommate and sharing a bathroom, being away from home, and all that stuff, so it wasn’t a big deal.” She said that some of her classes at Portsmouth were actually more difficult and intense than her college courses, therefore she has rarely felt overwhelmed by the workload in college thus far. “I’ve always been a procrastinator and I still am,” Pereira says. “But the Abbey helped me start managing my time better, which definitely comes in handy when you’re in college.”

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