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lm728
07-26-2009, 06:23 AM
I'm writing a YA novel, where the setting is a Pennsylvania preparatory school. Only problem is, I was raised on the West Coast--and I have no idea about the boarding school traditions. I have a few questions in particular below, but anything you could tell me on the subject would be very helpful!

1. What are the sports? I know lacrosse and rugby are some classics, but are there any winter or spring sports?

2. Is it plausible for a formerly Protestant school to hold meetings in the chapel?

3. Are there still prefects, and if so, what do they do?

4. Are there any school traditions, ie Parent Visitation Days, out-of-campus visiting days, etc.?


If there's any recommended (non-fiction if possible) reading you know, then please direct me!

Thanks!

Ruth2
07-26-2009, 07:17 AM
Well, this may not help because the boarding school I went to was in Mississippi and it was in 1970. But....

1) We suffered through field hockey, swimming, archery, more field hockey and of course, field hockey. Ugh. Later they added a plethora of sports.

2) Sure. If the school was Protestant and they sold it, the chapel was probably deconsecrated. Or not,depending on who bought it. We had piano recitals in ours as well as chapel.

3) Prefects. We had Senior Proctors. They basically monitored the hallways and made sure no one had lights on after hours.

4)We had Senior Raid, one a semester. They woke up the underclassmen and could do all sorts of heinous things to us. You haven't lived until someone's pushed you in a cold swimming pool in 30 degree weather then made you stand in the cold soaking wet and eat some awful garbage. Plus the usual Parents' Visitation, etc.

Hope this helps.

MattW
07-26-2009, 08:09 AM
I don't know if it helps, but here are the websites of some private schools in my (central NJ) area:

http://www.peddie.org/Default.asp?bhcp=1

http://www.hunschool.org/

http://www.lawrenceville.org/

You should be able to find some good answers about what students do there, traditions, etc.

As for sports, if the school is big enough, they'll generally field a team for most popular sports and compete against many of the local schools, public, private, and parochial. I can't see a school without a football team in winter, and hockey tends to be popular in private schools as well.

C.bronco
07-26-2009, 08:26 AM
My high school, which was 2/3 boarding, had a requirement that each student plays 3 sports per year, because there was no gym class and sports kept us out of trouble. (still does)

Kids were actually kicked out for cutting sports.

In the US, they are called proctors, not prefects.

Schools with lay faculty, if religiously affiliated, still have religious ceremonies.

On Parent Visitation days, the food suddenly is fabulous.

C.bronco
07-26-2009, 08:28 AM
P.S.: my high school was in CT
We had school 6 days per week: Wednesdays and Saturdays were half days to accomodate (sports) games.
We started school mid-way through September and finished mid-May. We had almost the entire month of March off for Spring Break, and several weeks for Xmas, during which times I worked at Burger King.

C.bronco
07-26-2009, 08:32 AM
BTW: I loved high school.

Go Saints!

IceCreamEmpress
07-26-2009, 11:05 PM
In the US, they are called proctors, not prefects.

"Prefect", in the sense of "an older student with a good academic and disciplinary record selected as a student leader," is very common terminology in boarding schools in the Northeastern US. Schools that have prefects include Choate-Rosemary Hall, The Groton School, Buckingham Browne and Nichols, Concord Academy, and others.

I've never encountered "proctor" in that context, but I have heard "senior student" used instead of "prefect".

tilt190, why not read the websites of some of the best-known schools (Choate, Groton, Phillips Exeter, and so on) and pattern your school on an amalgam of them?

lm728
07-27-2009, 12:37 AM
Thanks, ICE, I will!
A big thank-you to everyone who helped!

DavidZahir
07-27-2009, 08:34 AM
I created a fictional prep school dubbed "St. Paul's Academy" (this is a very common name for the things). Among other things I came up with (i.e. borrowed/adapted from real prep schools) was one day a year wherein classes were cancelled (this was random). Also, there was an event called "the crowning of the eagle" in which a statue of an eagle on the quad was crowned with a paper machee thing fashioned by some seniors. This followed a walk by candle-light around the quad, sometime during the first week of term.

I also decided the school's bell tower was struck by lightning several times, so the sports teams were called the "Lightnings." When the school went coed, the girls' teams were called the "Bells".

benbradley
07-27-2009, 09:19 AM
"Prefect", in the sense of "an older student with a good academic and disciplinary record selected as a student leader," is very common terminology in boarding schools in the Northeastern US. Schools that have prefects include Choate-Rosemary Hall, The Groton School, Buckingham Browne and Nichols, Concord Academy, and others.

I've never encountered "proctor" in that context, but I have heard "senior student" used instead of "prefect".
I went to a private boarding school (okay, Darlington in Rome, GA) and I seem to recall the word was proctor, perhaps "hall proctor." I'm sure it wasn't "prefect." I imagine one or the other name is used at different schools. Look for some Pennsylvania boarding schools and see what their websites say. If you're really interested and their websites don't have the info you want, you might ask them for their catalogs.

Probably the largest and best-known private school in Atlanta is Woodward Academy (http://www.woodward.edu/), but it apparently doesn't take boarding students.

jeseymour
07-28-2009, 02:55 AM
Okay, I didn't go to an East Coast Prep school, but we live in the next town over to a very famous one and I know some townie families whose kids go there. They have ice hockey, swimming, baseball, track, field hockey, all the usual sports. Here's a link to their athletics page.

http://www.exeter.edu/athletics/3165.aspx

I forgot about crew, we see them rowing in the river all the time.

Don't know about the other questions, perhaps browsing the website would help.

Jenan Mac
08-18-2009, 06:52 PM
I'm writing a YA novel, where the setting is a Pennsylvania preparatory school. Only problem is, I was raised on the West Coast--and I have no idea about the boarding school traditions. I have a few questions in particular below, but anything you could tell me on the subject would be very helpful!

1. What are the sports? I know lacrosse and rugby are some classics, but are there any winter or spring sports?

2. Is it plausible for a formerly Protestant school to hold meetings in the chapel?

3. Are there still prefects, and if so, what do they do?

4. Are there any school traditions, ie Parent Visitation Days, out-of-campus visiting days, etc.?


If there's any recommended (non-fiction if possible) reading you know, then please direct me!

Thanks!

Sorry I'm coming in late, but I'll try to be useful.

You can try the different school websites (Miss Porter's, Concord Academy, Choate-Rosemary Hall, Groton, the Phillips Academies, BB&N, whatever). The flavor of each school is going to be very different though. Some are military-ish, some are very laid back, some are terribly hidebound and traditional.

My school had only been coed three years (previously all-girl) when I started and some of the traditions were still very girl-oriented. That's something you might want to keep in mind if your school was originally all-male.

We had cross country skiing, squash, basketball, gymnastics and ice hockey in the winter, and softball/baseball, tennis in the spring. Fall was soccer and field hockey.

No football, no cheerleaders, no prom. We did have a Ms CA pageant, but that was a spoof and occasionally involved drag.

Parents' weekend was usually in the fall, as was alumnae/i weekend. As I recall, cafeteria food was way better then.

My school was nominally Episcopalian (not so's you'd notice) and we had chapel twice a week (seniors and faculty members got to give a chapel, on whatever topic appealed to them). We also had Vespers for the boarders on Sundays, run by whomever could be suckered into doing it. Definitely non-relighious in nature. The only one I recall is when Poetry Society set a new record for "shortest Vespers"; it ran eleven minutes (because they didn't bother heating the chapel and it was February in Massachusetts).

I don't recall Prefects, but we did have Heads of Houses, which were seniors in each dorm who ran house meetings and generally played Head Girl. So essentially the same thing, though they were voted on by the boarders rather than appointed by faculty.

We changed dorms fairly frequently (different room fall/winter/spring, and anything from singles to triples). I gather the changes were to keep roommates from killing one another.