A Glimpse into the Life of a Boarding Student at Branksome Hall
Branksome is a home away from home for all of our students. On campus, teachers, advisors and coaches serve as inspiring role models, and co-curriculars allow students to grow, bond and connect by engaging in similar interests. But for Branksome Boarding students, the halls are more than just a place to spend the day. From weekend outings to baseball games and museums, to celebrating days of significance with incredible themed dinners, there is never a dull moment in this small but tight-knit community.
Grade 8 student Athena began her Boarding journey in 2021 after living in Beijing and Calgary. As the year comes to an end and Boarders are preparing to head back to their homes for the summer, Athena sat down to talk about the 2022–23 school year and give the Branksome community a closer look into the life of a Boarding student.
Like her peers, Athena is always ready to try new things and is eager to experience everything Branksome has to offer. With a wide selection of clubs and opportunities to find other students who share the same interests, it is hard to be bored at BH. “My favourite thing about Branksome is the opportunity to try everything. I’m interested in a lot of things and Branksome has given me ways to do it from clubs to events and conferences,” Athena said. “I’ve been heavily involved in many extracurricular activities this year. I volunteer at Sunny View Public School every Wednesday, which is one of the best parts of my week. I worked backstage on Seussical the Musical and I am currently part of the student-led play, Who are We, Who we Are. Lastly, there’s the Debate and Public Speaking Society which I absolutely love as it lets me work with students from all over the Senior & Middle School and I learn so much about the world around me. And this is just a small taste of what Branksome has to offer!”
After school, the Boarding community gathers in the Athletics and Wellness Centre to share a meal. On days of cultural significance and times of celebration, these dinners become themed extravaganzas. “My favourite dinner this year was on Eid to celebrate the end of Ramadan. I loved the decorations, the Dining Hall looked beautiful and the authentic Middle Eastern food tasted amazing,” Athena shared.
But the fun doesn’t stop when school lets out on Fridays. Weekends are always packed with a variety of activities for Boarding students. Athena gave a small glimpse into what a Saturday and Sunday might look like in Boarding: “We usually have one or two events depending on the weekend and how busy everyone is. These events can range from puppy yoga to a trip to Wonderland to watching Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Many of these events are inspired by ideas and interests of the students. If there’s something we want to do, our Boarding Advisors will try their best to make it happen!” For Athena, weekend highlights also include sleeping in, having brunch with her peers and enjoying spending time outdoors when the Boarders have the campus all to themselves.
When asked about the relationships she has built in Boarding, Athena speaks of her friends like family. “The best thing about Boarding? The people you meet and the connections that can only be created from living together. The worst thing? These people that have become a family to you will all eventually graduate, and so will you. The people I’ve met in Boarding and the relationships I’ve formed are like no other. The older students have become my friends, but also my mentors and my role models. Baking in the kitchen together in the evenings, playing video games or just watching the sunset are memories that I cherish, mostly because of the people I share them with.”
Athena looks back on her second year at Branksome fondly, and is proud of the things she and her fellow Boarders have accomplished. But being a young teen at a boarding school can be tough sometimes. “Boarding isn’t easy. It’s not easy to be away from home for so long. It’s definitely not easy to balance all of the different aspects of your identity, especially as a teenager. Yet I wouldn't change a single thing. Even though it’s hard, and there are definitely days where not everything is amazing, there are so many people who are here to help you: My roommate, who’s been my rock through it all. My friends in all grades who come barging into my room to drag me onto my feet and hang out. My Boarding Advisors who are there to listen or offer advice. Ms. Strimas who always does everything in her power to make things happen.”
As the year comes to a close, graduating Boarders are preparing to move on to the next chapter in their lives and the community is getting ready to welcome new friends into one of the most welcoming and fun communities at Branksome. Whether it is sharing a meal, going to a museum or just watching a movie in the common room, Boarding students look forward to sharing these experiences with one another, and enjoy getting the Day community involved in the fun, too. “When people in the day school get involved in Boarding life, they get to learn about and appreciate the unique and wonderful experience that is Boarding. Boarding is an amazing place, and building a strong relationship between us and Day students is important as we are all valued members of the Branksome community,” Athena said.
The Branksome community looks forward to participating in all of the amazing events Boarding has to offer during the last few weeks of school. Special thanks to Athena for giving us a glimpse into the life of a Boarding student!
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.