Boarders make the best of lockdown

Boarders make the best of lockdown

22 January 2021

Miss Taryn Bennett, Head of Boarding

At the start of the spring term we welcomed 34 overseas boarders back to Woldingham. Lockdown has provided a wonderful opportunity for us to have a vertical boarding house with all of our boarders, from Year 7 to Upper Sixth, living together in Shanley. With online lessons occupying the weekdays, evening and weekend activities have continued in earnest, although slightly amended, of course, due to lockdown - lots of walks, baking, painting and board games are providing a welcome ‘brain break’ from screens.

Our younger students are enjoying the advantages Shanley (our Upper Sixth boarding house) has to offer, such as single, en-suite study rooms and toast on tap.  Our older students are embracing the benefits too, with greater independence and the opportunity to support the younger boarders.

Our in-house COVID-19 testing system has run smoothly since term began. A dedicated group of staff, including domestic services and catering team colleagues, are supporting the boarding team, ensuring our boarders are well cared for. The on-site boarding community may be small but we are all happy, healthy and enjoying life here in the valley. Linda, one of our boarders, has written an article on what boarding life is like for her this term.

Linda, Year 10 boarder

Lockdown is not ideal for any of us. Having said this, I truly feel so lucky to be able to stay at Woldingham during this period of time and we are so blessed to have all the facilities in the school, and of course the beautiful campus covered with greenery.

I was actually the first one to return to school. It had snowed the night before and by the afternoon the whole school was cloaked in polar-white. There was a screeching wind that led to fire-red ears and icy blue faces, but the sun was high up in the sky which made me smile.

This term all of the boarders are living in Shanley (where the en-suite bathrooms are!) and the first thing was to unpack. For me personally packing usually take AGES, but I finished it in four hours, which was a big accomplishment!

I do find online learning more difficult than being in the classroom, so having a healthy routine definitely helps keep my mental health safe and sound. I try to walk outside every day with my friends and I do yoga in my room every day. 

The food has been delicious and lockdown means weekends are a little less busy than normal, giving me more time to reflect and revise. Fortunately, our Sunday Mass is still taking place, which means that at least I can take an hour just focusing on myself. I also sing in the chapel choir and am really pleased I can still be involved in it this term.

One of the best things about staying in school during lockdown is being able to socialise with different people. The most beautiful thing at Woldingham is the community. Now with girls from different year groups living in school in one boarding house, it just feels so good to get to know more people. I do I miss my normal routines but am enjoying this new experience.

I also want to give thanks to all members of the school, for your hard work and support of us in this difficult time. I hope everyone is safe and is in a loving and caring environment.