Why Boarding School?

Uniforms. Straight lines. Stuck up. These are words my husband used to describe what he thought an all-girl boarding school was like. Let’s just say that the first time he came to visit me, he found out how wrong he was! Girls were running around screaming. Some wore rollers in their hair. Others were in pajamas. Everyone was laughing and having a good time.

If you had told me when I was younger that I would enjoy boarding school, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I was used to being surrounded by family and loved ones. I had a close group of friends, and we were ready for life as “the cool high school students”. Little did I know how much my life would change as a result of me attending such a remarkable and unique boarding school.

9th grade

Often, I get asked if I wanted to attend boarding school, and what was it really like? For me, I must admit that my days at Chatham Hall make up some of the best years of my life. Where else could I go to school with students who represented over thirty countries? Or with students who took pride in learning, embraced challenges, and encouraged self-exploration? Or even with students who take the honor code seriously? I still wish more people believed in “white flag”. 🙂

Chatham Hall gave me the chance to feel comfortable in my own skin. I can remember feeling “lost” sometimes at my previous high school because of the size of the student population. However, it’s kind of hard to feel that way when your school is comprised of 134 girls.

Chatham Hall planted seeds of leadership, self-confidence, and determination within me. I was able to try new sports, like cross country, field hockey, and lacrosse (my in-laws still have my lacrosse stick in storage! 🙂 ). I was able to take both French and Spanish, four AP courses, and meet a variety of important women from around the globe. Some women were Prime Ministers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and even esteemed authors. In fact, Venus Williams was the featured speaker for the Leader in Residence Program a few years ago. After her visit, Venus Williams shared her thoughts about the event.

“The girls were obviously so intelligent and their questions really made me think. I wish I could have attended a school like Chatham Hall.” – Venus Williams

Something else I love about Chatham Hall is that everyone there became your family. I can remember babysitting for my Western Civilization teacher and his wife, having lamb for the first time during Easter with them, and learning how to play spades and hearts at their house. I can remember learning how to cook French dishes with my beloved Madame in our student kitchen, and going over to her house to study for the AP French exam. Madame’s husband was my AP English teacher, too. Boy, how do I miss those homemade cookies and tea we got to enjoy on Fridays! 🙂

chocolate chip cookies

I have a host of other memories about wonderful traditions and relationships I formed. Senior Night in the Well, Senior Stairs, New Girl Initiation, Undergrounds, lunch and dinner with your advisor, Senior chapel talks, Junior-Senior Night, Purple and Gold sporting events…the list is endless. So, did I initially think boarding school would be so awesome? Not really. Yet, I am so grateful that my dad and others saw enough potential in me to send me somewhere that I could grow and develop into a strong and independent young woman.

The older I get, I find myself thinking more often of those glory days I spent at boarding school. I can still hear our Alma Mater ringing throughout our campus.

School days bright, that fly so swiftly,
Down life’s stream, beyond recall,
Leave within our hearts abiding
Loyalty to Chatham Hall.

Chatham Hall our Alma Mater,
A love for thee, a pledge for all.
And forever and forever
We’ll be true to Chatham Hall.

When the golden sun is sinking,
And the shadows o’er us fall,
Memories will take us backwards,
To our days at Chatham Hall. 

Chatham Hall our Alma Mater,
A love for thee, a pledge for all.
And forever and forever
We’ll be true to Chatham Hall.

CH sign

I count it a blessing that I was afforded the opportunity to join the ranks of many other women, and attend an all-girl college preparatory boarding school. I can now only pray my girls are given the opportunity to do the same.

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17 thoughts on “Why Boarding School?

    1. Well, I can definitely say that my life is better because of my years at Chatham Hall. I am still in contact with many of my teachers and friends. Boarding school was a great choice for me. Good luck with your decision! 🙂

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  1. Hi there! This is Laura Rand Matheny ’06 from Chatham Hall’s Alumnae Office. We love your post about CH!! So good to hear such wonderful things from you. With your permission, we would love to share your post and name on our Alumnae Facebook page!

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  2. So wonderful to see a great article about a great school! I’m a Hargrave alum with several Chatham Hall friends. I loved the opportunities that I had at Hargrave even as a day student. My son is a boarding cadet there now and I so believe that the boarding environment is healthy for young men and women. You are so right about the leadership opportunities and self respect that one gains by being in an environment where ethics matter. Thank you so much for posting this to your blog.

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  3. I also wanted to add that Chatham Hall is my #1 choice for my daughter. I couldn’t imagine her being anywhere else. She is only in 3rd grade but even living 2000 miles away from the wonderful community that Chatham is, I can’t imagine her being anywhere else as an adolescent.

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  4. Love your words here, Mme. Gilbert. Miss you and sending you hugs. I wish I had been able to cherish more time at our beautiful school (9th grade and middle school!). Life since then has moved so fast. We were blessed with a place so many need to experience!

    Love,
    Whit

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Whit! I agree; life has seriously sped up since we graduated. I’m aiming to enjoy life more and focus on the present! Hope to connect with you soon!!!

      Love ya!
      Quette

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