Preparing for Residential Life
If you tend to be friends with people of different ages, backgrounds, and interests; or you’ve always been told how independent you are; or you’re eager to try something new, you just might be the perfect Chatham Hall private boarding school candidate.
Boarding school students take responsibility for their own living and learning. Two hours of study hall are required during the week, and everyone chips in to care for community spaces like lounges, bathrooms, and kitchens. All students learn to do their own laundry and pass room checks. All attend community meals and Sunday vespers.
While living away from home can be demanding, you gain a sense of responsibility for yourself and for others that is so incredibly valuable.
The boarding school students who thrive at Chatham Hall are the ones who get to know peers on an individual level. They want to be mentored by adults old and young—whether they’re teachers, coaches, accountants, nurses, librarians, or artists. They are students who want to make a difference in their community by sharing their talents to make Chatham Hall better, richer, and more meaningful for others.
Every Chatham Hall students has a faculty advisor. Advisors are a primary contact for the student and her family, and they serve as her advocate and liaison between her parents, teachers, and administrators. Students meet with their advisors weekly, during seated dinner on Monday night and seated lunches on Thursday. Four times each year, advisors and their families plan fun outings with students in their group. Outings vary, but typically include dinner and some sort of activity such as bowling, laser tag, pumpkin carving, a trip to the movies, or even cooking dinner together.
Chatham 101 is a class designed for all new students. Meeting once each week and sometimes onlinefor the first six weeks, this course sets the tone for Chatham Hall as a boarding school, a geographic place, a historic place, and a community comprised of students, and families from all walks of life. The goal of the course is to help students understand our Honor Code, our Purple and Golden Rule, traditions as well as academic and emotional resources that are available to them. We also discuss how the students can successfully manage their changing relationships, how to care for themselves while living in community, and to be mindful of how they use technology both ethically and responsibly.
Ninth Grade Class Curriculum
Our ninth grade curriculum is intentional in helping ninth graders transition into life at Chatham Hall as seamlessly as possible. Our primary goal for our ninth graders is to help each girl strengthen her sense of self. Programming on media literacy (body image), health (fitness, nutrition, hygiene), self-advocacy (face to face communication, identifying and owning their feelings), and sense of place (introduction to Chatham Hall and southwest Virginia) are essential components to this curriculum.
In addition to formal life skills workshops, the ninth grade experience is rich with adventure, team-building, and fun. They enjoy an all day canoe trip, a sleepover or dinner at the Rectory, a visit to colleges such as Duke, William and Mary, or the University of Virginia, and even a trip to an art museum in the region. Ninth graders are also given a budget to invite a leader-in-residence of their choice to Chatham Hall. They nominate, select, invite, introduce, and host this leader-in-residence and they do it all on their own.
We believe it is our responsibility to engage the girls in being active players in our community. Each Link Group is comprised of a group of girls from various grades. Each group is lead by one of our senior Student Council members. Link Groups meet monthly. The meetings are fun, playful, sometimes spiritual, and often intellectual. When we need to address various community concerns, our Council members lead interactive discussions that are designed to move the group towards resolution. The Harkness method, a teaching method that is central to our humanities curriculum, is employed in the residential setting when we teach students to understand, embrace and embody the philosophical underpinnings of our community life.
Old Girls are returning students who volunteer to help usher New Girls through life at Chatham Hall. Old Girls reach out to new students over the summer, welcome them to campus during orientation week, and sit by them during Tuesday seated lunches for the first six weeks. Beginning in 2013, Old Girls will be trained in active listening, conflict mediation, and basic emotional health and wellness so that they can help New Girls transition into life at Chatham Hall as seamlessly as possible.
Chatham Hall’s campus is located in the small, rural community of Chatham, Virginia. We have a team of residential faculty including study hall proctors, dorm faculty, a nurse, and an administrator who are all on-call 24/7. All doors are locked and accessible only with security key cards that are distributed to members of the Chatham Hall community. All visitors are required to sign in and out of Pruden Hall.