“Such an incredibly tight-knit community, a family really. We’re so grateful that our girls had a chance to be a part of it all.” Maryanne Chauvel P’10 P’12
Every day at Bement, we live and breathe our mission to “live and learn as a family” in our boarding community. Nestled in the heart of Historic Deerfield, Bement offers a unique experience for our forty boarding students. The small size of our boarding community means that each of the four ten-person dormitories feels like a real home. The dorms are centered around common rooms with features including fireplaces, tables with space to spread out and play cards or board games, kitchenettes, and plenty of couches and chairs so that the entire dorm can relax together. Family-style meals in our dining hall provide an opportunity for students to dine with a diverse group of peers and dorm parents. Boarders often pitch in to help take care of our campus: they help our kitchen staff set up for meals and clean up afterward, shovel snow during our New England winters, and are responsible for daily and weekly chores in the dorm, including doing dishes, taking out the trash and recycling, and vacuuming. Just like the members of a family, Bement students and adults work together to live and learn successfully.
Bement boarders build close relationships with many of the adults in our community. With just ten students per dorm, the two dorm parents who lead each dorm get to know each boarder well. From eating three meals a day together to helping with homework, from relaxing in the dorm to participating in exciting weekend activities together, boarding students and their dorm parents build strong relationships during the school year. Many of our dorm parents also work as teachers and coaches, allowing students to interact with their dorm parents in the classrooms and on the playing fields as well as in the dorms. Boarding students also have an opportunity to see some of their classroom teachers in a different context when these teachers proctor evening boarder study halls. All teachers at Bement, and especially dorm parents, are fully committed to making Bement a wonderful home for our boarding students. It is not uncommon to see teachers taking a group of boarders to a special dinner, to church on a Sunday, to a play at a local school or theater, or out for ice cream after a sports game!
Our weekdays in the dorm are busy and full. Each day begins with the entire boarding community gathering for breakfast in the dining hall. Then, it’s off to a full day of classes, followed by sports practices or games. After an hour of downtime in the dorm, it’s time for dinner and study hall. Evenings in the dorm are a time to call, email, or Skype home, make a snack, get homework help from a dorm parent, and prepare for the next day.
On weekends, we take full advantage of all that our beautiful campus, the Pioneer Valley, and New England have to offer. Weekends are full of a variety of activities. Some of these are trips to other places, like visits to local fairs and festivals, malls, movie theaters, and museums like Mass MoCA and the Norman Rockwell Museum. We also enjoy excursions to local hotspots like Northampton and Shelburne Falls, and special, longer trips to Boston and New York City. Other activities are closer to home, like swimming at our head of school’s house, competitive rounds of bingo in our dining hall, bike rides on Old Main Street, hikes up the nearby Pocumtuck Ridge, sports games, and craft workshops on campus. Each weekend, we strive to strike a balance between time to relax and study, time spent in small, dorm-based groups, and time as a full boarding community.
Three times a year, our boarders participate in home-stay weekends with local families. This opportunity to spend time with an American family gives our international boarders a new perspective on their time in the United States, a chance to practice their language skills in a new context, and a strong connection not just with a peer but with an entire family.
Our weekend plans, as well as photographs and updates on our activities, are posted each week on our boarding blog (www.bement.org/dorms).
Former head of school from 1947-1971, Mary "Gug" H. Drexler, passed away on April 23, 2013 at the age of 101.
Remembrances of Gug's time as head of school can be found on the school's alumni facebook page.
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