After years of Covid struggles, boarding community comes together


Ryan Guan

Junior Tim Yang gives speech during Thompson Dorm’s Head’s Brunch

Matthias Jaylen Sandoval, Social Media & Distribution Manager

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the boarding community has been through it all. The program has dealt with being shut down for Covid. Then it reopened with heavy restrictions like mask usage at all times and borders not being allowed into other borders’ rooms. After the previous Head of Residential Life, Dena Torino left, the program welcomed the new Head of Residential Life, Jayde Bennett. 

Even through a tumultuous last three years, the program has recovered through its community-building, diversity, and strong relationships.

Bennett’s transition into the position was tough because they had to build new policies and formalize old ones.

They said, “It’s been an okay transition. The hardest part is having to write down all these policies somewhere, because they were previously not written down, and if they were, they were written down in different places, so I’m trying to gather the information in one place and making sure everyone knows what is happening.”

Bennett has appreciated the opportunities for students to come together. They said, “I think any of the highlights are when the community is gathered together.  I think the really awesome thing is that in the evenings, with the evening enrichment schedule happening, you really see lots of informal gatherings. It’s really nice to see that we do have a vibrant community in the evening.” 

Though Bennett talked about the evening enrichment schedule and how it provided a way for students to gather, the enrichment schedule was suspended for the week, said Bennett in an email on Tuesday. In the all-boarder email,  they said, “There were multiple reports from the athletics office and Fonseca Center staff that the gym has been left in disarray. In addition, the equipment cages were broken into and balls and other equipment damaged.”

Bennett encouraged all the borders to be an example for each other by modeling good behavior and holding each other accountable. 

On another note, Bennett said that the diversity in the boarding program is a positive thing for the entire Masters community. They said, “A lot of our diversity in the school comes from the boarding program and that includes race, gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status, so it’s cool to see people from different places coming from different stages in life connecting in our program.”

Sophomore Angel Henriquez echoed Bennet’s sentiments on the diversity of the program. Henriquez said, “My experience has been pretty good this year, I really appreciate the diversity there is. There are people coming from different corners of the world. It’s interesting to get to know all of these people from different backgrounds, upbringings and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s a big melting pot of people and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Henriquez reminisced on his freshman year and his time in the dorms. He noted how Covid made dorm life very difficult for him and other students. Henriquez said, “There’s a lot more social interaction. Last year in Cole Dorm we couldn’t even have more than three people in the common room at the same time and that was upsetting. You’d think that you’d be able to get to know some of the people you live with on more of a close level. We didn’t have that last year because of Covid and now we have that flexibility.”

Henriquez gave a shout-out to the Director of Transportation and Weekend Activities, Ed Gormley, for organizing all the weekend activities for the boarding students. Henriquez said, “There’s a lot of great activities. Mr. Gormley does an amazing job by trying his best to bring the dorms together through activities.”

Freshman Velizar Lazarov has loved his experience in the dorms this year. “The dorms have really brought us together and I’ve felt really connected to the community in general. It was a good feeling especially when we got rid of the masks. It was much more lively on campus.” Lazarov acknowledged how the dorm staff have been supportive to students and fostered a good community in the dorm.

Some students felt frustrated with some aspects of the program. Sophomore Amber Lincoln said the boarding program hinders her as a volleyball player. Lincoln plays for the Robert Jacobson Sports Volleyball team and practices on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7-10 p.m. That interferes with her study hall hours in the evening (8-10 p.m.) and as she is an underclassman, she must have lights out by 11 p.m. That makes it difficult for her to complete her work on time. 

Lincoln said,Sports is how a lot of us want to get into college, and that is especially true for boarders. It’s very hard for me to do volleyball outside of school and I have to sacrifice a lot in order to stay on track with school at the same time.”

Lincoln then talked about how she feels as though the program doesn’t support students when they need mental health help. Lincoln said, “Every year a bill is proposed to allow students to take mental health days in their rooms but it never passes. [The School] puts us under constant stress with excessive homework and unnecessary extracurriculars, and on days when we just need a break so we don’t break, we aren’t given it.” 

In order to take a day off in the Health Center, borders must talk to a school counselor first. Lincoln finds this unnecessary. She said, “We don’t always want to talk about our problems with a counselor.” 

In response to Lincoln’s comment about a boarding student taking a day off when having a hard time emotionally,  Bennett said, “Purely from a safety and caring standpoint, if a student is in so much distress that they can not go to class or activities, then that’s concerning enough to have an adult or another pair of eyes on them. Simply leaving a student in their rooms to their own devices is not necessarily the best way to support someone.”

Senior Sarah Wu remembered what the program was like pre-Covid and how the organization of the dorms was different. Pre-Covid, there was no senior-only dorm and the dorms weren’t organized by grade like they are now. 

She said, “Before Covid, we were in a dorm with a range of freshmen to seniors so as a freshman I was able to get to know some of the seniors and juniors which I probably wouldn’t know that well [otherwise].”

Wu spoke about her experience as a proctor in Cole Dorm now. She said, “Me and my friend are the only seniors in the dorm; we have a young dorm. We have new students, freshmen, and sophomores and I’m really grateful to know a lot of people from the underclassmen grades.”