Boarders return to campus

The Dana Hall boarding community has gone from 34 boarders last January to 114 in September. Returning boarders and dorm faculty reported that having everyone back on campus has been enjoyable, yet slightly overwhelming. This 2021-22 school year, Dana Hall houses students from nine countries and ten different states, stretching from Texas to Connecticut, and Thailand to Mexico. 

“I love having everyone back on campus,” Amelia Herring, the dorm director of Johnston B and Middle School Librarian, stated. “It never felt right having empty dorms and half-empty classrooms.” Last year, Johnston B was completely empty, but now Ms. Herring is responsible for 19 students living under the same roof as she is. “It’s been a lifestyle change,” she noted. “You’re never really off the clock.”

For returning students, the changes have been positive compared to last year. “It feels a lot more complete,” Jelene Graham ’24 said. “There’s so many more people than there were last year.”

“It’s nice to see everyone back because it reminds me of my freshman year,” Kiki Nartey ’22 shared. “It gives me a better sense of community and time to get close to the underclassmen before I leave.” For many seniors, it’s their first “normal” experience since sophomore year. 

“I don’t really think that Covid has had a huge impact on this year,” Anna Taverna ‘24, a new student, said, “but I think that it is definitely a little harder since there are restrictions.”

“Getting students to remember to wear their masks” has been a challenge, Ms. Herring shared. “People start to feel comfortable and forget.”

“We worked with a pandemic consultant that guided us as to what are the things we could lighten up on and what are the things that we wanted to maintain,” said Donna Corrigan, the Dean of Residential Life. 

Events such as dorm competition, s’mores making, workshops and more have helped bring the community together even in Covid times.

 “The main things we are looking at are connections, relationships, and making sure that students have good experiences here at Dana Hall,” explained Ms. Corrigan. “Instead of having one year of new students, we really do have two years of new students. A lot of boarding students last year were not able to be here.” 

With Covid cases decreasing statewide and more of the community getting fully vaccinated, many are optimistic. 

“Some things I am looking forward to as we move forward is providing more boarding and day opportunities for shared experiences to interact and connect on campus – dorm visits and sleepovers,” explained Ms. Corrigan. “At the end of the day, our day students go home but our boarding community is still here, we are up and running 24/7.”

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