After writing frequently last year about our daughter’s search for a boarding school, it seemed timely now to post an entry about how her first year is progressing. Our daughter, now 14, looked at a number of schools last year, both in New England within driving distance of home and in California. The California school ended up being an easy choice both for her and for us. Although it is far from home, it felt right to all of us. As her advisor says “There’s no place like home, but there is also no place like our school.”
Once the decision is made, there are some long months of anticipation. This school made the wait easier by notifying us early on of what we could expect from the school when. For our organized child, it was comforting to receive class assignments, book order forms, lists of what to bring throughout the summer. Her dorm prefect sent a postcard brimming with enthusiasm from her summer travels, her advisor sent e-mails and a card, and her dorm master’s small children sent a photo of themselves with a welcoming note. Another great support was a call from a current parent who lives in the next state offering to answer any questions or address any concerns. It turned out there are two other freshman girls who live within two hours of us. The girls were able to meet in Boston in August. It was reassuring to our daughter to know there would be familiar faces on opening day. Facebook was also a huge help as she became “friends” with many of her class-mates before she ever met them.
Finally the headmaster and his wife hosted a dinner for new out-of-state students and their families the night before school opened. Again the opportunity to meet other new students and the prefects in a smaller, social setting helped enormously in reducing all of our anxiety. It was interesting and fun for us to meet other parents and visit with faculty. When we arrived for the dinner, the admission staff greeted us all by name which was impressive advance work.
While I did have to wear sunglasses to hide my tears as we drove away the next day, there has never been a moment that our daughter has regretted her decision. Of course she misses us and misses her friends from home, but she is absolutely in the right school.
In the intervening weeks, we have often spoken and e-mailed with our daughter about her academics and other activities. We also hear frequently from her advisor and dorm head who send e-mails and photographs. It all helps us feel not so far away.
Two weeks ago we visited for Parents’ Weekend. Our daughter is so happy and joyfully introduced us to her friends and teachers. Again impressive staff work resulted in an interesting and educational event. We were entertained by the various performing arts groups, saw an excerpt of the play, had a town-hall meeting with the head, attended mini-classes and watched sporting events. That we got to do all this in the lovely California setting was an added bonus. It was such fun to see these children who were timid and nervous on the first day now brimming with confidence and enthusiasm for their activities. Best of all when we left this time, there were no tears on either side as we know she is just where she should be and she is so engaged and happy in all she has going on at school.