Webb boarding students adjust back to dorm life


Sharon Xu

Britney Lu (‘23) and Jolina Zhao (‘23) stand in the doorway chatting before study hours start. Credit: Sharon Xu (’22)

As students dive into the new school year, it is clear that residential life looks and feels very different. The Webb boarding program underwent many changes over the past year and a half.

The VWS dorms now consist of Appleby, Jones, South Hutch, and Jameson while the WSC dorms include Macleod, Holt, Kirkhill, Reynolds, Alamo, and North Hutch. The past year brought renovations; some dorms now have air conditioning, some have new single occupancy rooms, and even new furniture.

New and returning students are excited to be living on the Webb campus, with freshman and sophomores experiencing Webb boarding life for the first time. For the classes of 2024 and 2025, the boarding experience will be completely new to them.

“When I first got to Webb, I was a bit homesick, but I didn’t find it too hard to get accustomed to the dorms,” said William Yang (‘24) a new boarding student in Kirkhill. “Learning all of the check-in rules and remembering to clean my room everyday was also hard at first. Actually, one night Mr. Mbengue came into my room for room check and told me I was cleaning my mirror wrong. It was really funny, and he taught me how to clean it right. I’ve been learning how to live on my own and it’s great being able to see my friends all the time.”

For example, students need to make their beds and clean their rooms daily for room checks, learn the check-in schedule, and sign in and out of the dorms. This might be challenging at first, but eventually, everyone will succeed.

Returning students are especially eager to be back at Webb after being away for a year and a half.

“It was so exciting! I really liked coming back and I’m in the same dorm I was my freshman year, so it was a lot of memories floating back to me,” said Marina Saeger (‘23) a junior dorm prefect in South Hutch. “Especially the process of moving back onto campus, just, it was the same in a lot of ways, but it was different in the sense that I knew what I was doing this time.”

Besides learning new rules and relearning old ones, many returning boarders are finding the transition back to dorm life relatively easy.

The new COVID regulations are the biggest adjustments students have had to make. Students are now only allowed to be in their assigned dorm and dorm area, friends can no longer visit each other’s rooms, day students can no longer come into the dorms, and boarders must be masked in all common areas.

In past years, students would gather in each other’s rooms and go to open dorms, so not having those opportunities has made it harder for students to connect with each other outside the school day and inside their own dorms.

“I really do see the need to implement these specific protocols to keep everyone safe and keep Webb open,” said Nicholas Theobald (‘22) a senior dorm prefect in Reynolds. “But on the other hand, they do detract from the environment in the dorms.”

Not only are boarding students feeling the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day lives, day students are also adjusting to the new restrictions.

“One of my best friends is a boarder and I used to go in her room to study all the time, but now I can’t,” said Caroline Metz (‘22) a senior day student. “But luckily there are places like Hooper and the library that I can hang out in.”

For boarders, dorms are places where they hope to find comfort and feel at home. As the interviews were conducted, the top three expectations that the students seek out the most are respect, friendships, and privacy.

“I hope to see the girls being respectful to each other’s privacy and space,” said Emily Berg (‘24) a new boarding student in South Hutch. “I don’t expect everyone to become best friend, knowing that it is hard to adjust to boarding life especially the freshmen and after online learning, but hopefully to be able to bond and do something together to make it seems like a special group.”

As students have moved into the dorms, the dorm heads are also seeing everyone readjust to boarding life this year. They’re helping returning students navigate new rules and responsibilities in the dorms while also helping all the new boarders learn what Webb dorm life is like.

“It’s been a particularly challenging year because there are essentially two new classes to the Webb boarding community,” said Seraphina Oney, head of South Hutch. “I think given the circumstances people are doing really well and as they start to learn more about the Webb community they’re going to do just as well as the other classes. They’ve really tackled our current challenges and are learning the Webb way.”

Finally, the Webb community is all on campus together again. As everyone embraces the new environment we are in, we can all make the most of this year.

“It is a new journey, and I am looking forward to it,” said Catherine Shen (‘25), a new boarding student in Appleby.