Tag Archives: Dining Hall

Getting It Right

Stoneleigh-Burnham has a long tradition of periodic “formal dinners,” which were inexplicably called “sit-down dinners” when I first started at the school in 1985 (to my memory, anyway, we did not eat all other meals standing up). Many different methods of arranging seating have been tried, with varying success. One of the more recent and welcome ideas was for Big Sisters to be seated with their Little Sisters during the banquet we hold on the evening of the first big All-School Meeting, and ever since the middle school Little Sisters have been periodically asking me when they can sit with their Big Sister group again. Advisory dinners also work well, most likely because here, too, the people at the table know each other and feel connections. However, with any other grouping, many members of our community, faculty and students alike, approach the dinner with some trepidation, wondering whether their table will be talkative or whether theirs will be a conversation filled with awkward silences. In my experience, it works out more often than not, but nonetheless I always experience faint butterflies as I check the seating chart that afternoon.

So you can imagine my surprise when, during the day of our second formal dinner of the year, a student who saw me yelled, “Hey, I’m at your table. I can’t wait!”  Although she is a former advisee, it is still something I have never, ever heard before. Moreover, that evening, as I found my seat, I was greeted with warm smiles from all the students present, especially from Kikko, one of the Seniors. This year, Sara Gibbons, the Senior Class Dean, worked with the students to implement a plan whereby each Senior would list faculty members with whom they would like to co-host a table for the remainder of the year and permanent pairings would be created. I have known Kikko for four years, though I have never taught her nor indeed worked directly with her in any capacity. She is, however, one of those students who always returns a smile and a greeting when passing in the corridor and who is happy to engage you in conversation if you would like; I found I genuinely liked her simply through these brief interactions.

As it turned out, the Trustee who was also assigned to our table was somewhat hard of hearing, and after I had to repeat a number of things the students said to him during introductions, it became clear (if unspoken) that I would probably have the principal responsibility to host him and engage him in conversation. I have known him for many years, and did enjoy the chance to talk with him at greater length. Fortunately, I was also able to periodically break the flow of our conversation and join in with the lively conversation the students were having among themselves, and indeed it was one of the most enjoyable non-advisory formal dinners I have had in several years.

Many faculty members, including Sara, had similar experiences, and reported that the students also enjoyed this system more than others in the past. And interestingly, I find that Kikko and I have added extra warmth and depth to our greetings, smiles, and short conversations in the dining hall. When she graduates, I will feel her absence all the more acutely.

Our school is all about connections, voice, and finding our own best selves. The right structures can help support that mission. Sometimes, everything works properly straight away, and sometimes you just have to keep tweaking things until you get it right. But when you do get it right, you find it’s well worth all the trouble. The longer it takes, the better you feel.  And right now, I feel very good.

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Filed under On Education, School Happenings, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Uncategorized, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

#117-113: Dining Hall, International Lunch, the Owl, the Holiday Basketball Tournament, Students of Color Club.

#117: Dining Hall.

There are a lot of places on campus with beautiful views. We are situated on the top of a hill and surrounded by fields so it’s hard to find a place on campus that isn’t pretty. Our dining hall is no exception…it has tons of windows and they all look out over the front fields and the oval. In addition to being a sunny place to enjoy a meal, the dining hall has a friendly staff and delicious food which just makes it one more thing to love about SBS!

#116: International Lunch.

Being a small school we have the opportunity to do things in ways that many larger schools can’t. One example of this is our international lunch. Each year our students work with the dining hall staff to prepare food from each of their respective countries. This years lunch featured the Korean version of fried dough, Haitian pulled pork with rice and beans, plantain chips and sushi. Yum!

#115: The Owl.

What would a list of things to love about SBS  be without a mention of our mascot? The owl, known for it’s wisdom, has long been associated with Stoneleigh-Burnham School. The owl cheers on our teams from the sidelines of the games and always manages to liven up the crowd!

#114: The Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Each year Stoneleigh-Burnham hosts the annual Holiday Basketball Tournament. This tournament, which has included schools like Wilbraham and Monson, Proctor Academy, Brewster Academy and the Winsor School began in 2004-2005 and has been held annually for the last 6 years.

#113: Students of Color Club.

Students of Color Club or SoCC, is fairly new to SBS, but in the few years since their creation they have been very active in the community! From movies to presentations, SoCC is always keeping the Stoneleigh-Burnham community informed.

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Filed under School Happenings, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School