A Year in Boarding

2020 has been the year when boarding, along  with the rest of the world, had to find new and extraordinary ways of working. Houses have been empty and quiet, missing the constant footfall and vibrant enthusiasm of our boarders. Some BHMs have seized the opportunity finally to throw away outdated objects tucked into nooks and crannies – like Christmas decorations from the 1980s. Others have been hard at work packing up for boarders who left in a hurry, expecting to return to their bedrooms after the Easter holidays.

Zoom and Teams have been our lifeline, allowing regular house meetings and vital tutor-to-boarder contact to carry on, although time zone differences have required some boarders to adapt to very early mornings while others have had later starts. The latter has definitely been more popular! Typical house activities such as quizzes, celebratory leavers’ suppers and cooking club have all been replicated as closely as possible, making important points of normality in a very strange term. Zoom has also enabled us to meet and welcome our new boarders into the community more effectively than ever before.

Summer is traditionally the time when British weather finally improves, and boarders can gather outside for our summer Olympics programme. It’s the highlight  of the interhouse competitions, usually featuring such ‘competitive’ activities as the egg and spoon race, rounders and of course the synchronised swimming.

This year brought new Olympics competitions, but similar enthusiasm. Park Grange’s letter G scavenger hunt led to some out-of-the box thinking: ‘garlic’ was swiftly countered by ‘gap’ and ‘gravity’, although I rather liked the IB-centred ‘GDC’ calculator. The first round went to Sennocke, whose house staff were joining in with enthusiasm. Aisher’s video round was next, with hilarious entries, impressive creativity and superb teamwork. Tears of laughter characterised the judging panel, with special mention going to School House for roping in a boarder’s entire family to represent a Weasley family dinner. School House won that round, so it was close going into the last section, the School House skills challenge. Here boarders were asked to choose from a long list of possible ‘skills’, and video themselves to prove that they could complete the task. Origami swans, keepy uppies (with a toilet roll), magic tricks and bottle flips were all options for boarders to try. School House romped away with this round, winning the overall competition much to their delight.

But that’s not really the point. Shared endeavour, laughter and inclusivity are vital parts of the Sevenoaks boarding experience. I’m glad to say that those things are still intact, although the boarding team is looking forward to the return of the constant footfall.

Nichola Haworth
Head of Boarding

Sevenoaks School boarding photos on Flickr


You can also read the 2019-2020 Sennockian as a digital magazine here

Sennockian cover artwork by Tamira Kitchens, Upper Sixth 2020