It’s 9:30pm on a typical Wednesday night. Middle School hallway is quiet…except for the strains of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” coming from the Ipod attached to the hip of one middle school student. Clad in her “spring pajama pants and Halloween pajama top” (this particular middle schooler has specific descriptions for each pair of pajamas she owns) she announces that she will now be making her entrance.
She ducks behind the swinging double doors at the end of the hallway and the students and I wait in quiet anticipation.
Suddenly, she springs out from behind the doors in full Michael Jackson impersonation. Arms flailing and legs twitching she begins her choreographed trip from one end of the hall to the other. She says she is showing us the “Thriller” dance. She promises that later we will see the “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” choreography. When she’s finished I realize they all look strikingly similar to me. She insists they aren’t.
The music playing from her Ipod is so loud that we can hear it from our seats at the opposite end of the hallway. You can tell by the smile on her face that she’s ecstatic.
If you’ve never experienced life on a residential hallway at an all girls school it might be hard to imagine this scene. After all she is basically in public, wearing mismatched pajamas, Ipod tucked into the waistband of her pants performing for a growing audience.
Here’s the thing about SBS though, the embarrassment that normally makes you duck your head when you trip or say “never mind” because you’re afraid people will laugh, doesn’t exist here. At SBS it’s accepted, if not encouraged, to dance in the hallway in your pajamas, sing loudly to your friends or lift your head, look someone in the eye and laugh out loud when you trip.
Flashback to the Saturday before.
It’s the first official weekend of the school year. The middle school students have already spent two days bonding in Becket, MA at Camp Chimney Corners and they have finished their first official week of classes.
I’m driving a bus (a short one, but a bus nonetheless) down Route 2 to take them go-carting. There are 12 of them piled in the back, laughing and joking with one another. We arrive at our destination and they all tumble out of the bus, shouting “Thank you Laura!” behind them as they run for the token counter.
I follow them in and overhear someone say “I’m only going to buy one token and ride the go carts once.” I’m momentarily disheartened. I planned for this activity to last all afternoon.
Five minutes and one whirlwind go-cart ride later the girls are running back to the token counter.
One student comes over and tells me she’s bought five more tokens. She chats easily with me as she waits outside the go-cart track for her “driver”. She tells me she needs one because she doesn’t know how to drive yet. I point out that none of them actually know how to drive. She shrugs and grins at me as her “driver” comes bounding back to the waiting area. The two link arms and head inside the gate to pick a car.
To an outsider, it would seem impossible that they’ve known each other for barely more than a week.
The afternoon flies by and soon we’re headed back up Route 2 towards Greenfield.The ride home is much quieter than our earlier trip. Exhausted from the adrenaline of driving cars all afternoon the girls are ready to relax before heading to the bonfire planned for later that evening.
It’s 8pm and we’re ready. The cider is warm and the fire is just getting started. A number of students and faculty gather on the back field to share stories, s’mores and hot apple cider.
The middle schoolers are excited about the bonfire. Many of them are having their first campfire experience with us.
We huddle together around the fire as the air grows cool around us. Laughter and chatter cut through the silence of the woods and fields.
At the end of the evening we head back to the hallway for check in and the girls return to their rooms. As I stop at each room to wish the girls goodnight, we chat about go-carts, bonfires and the trip we will take to go apple picking tomorrow.
I smile to myself as I listen to the quiet sounds of giggling and whispered conversation coming from each room. For these girls this is only the beginning. There are many more memorable weekends to come.
– Laura Lavallee, Associate Director of Admissions & Public Relations Coordinator