As Friday brought the week to a close, our students welcomed a short reprieve from studying by leaving campus to grab a boba tea, exploring downtown San Rafael’s Fourth Street, and visiting the Town Center in Corte Madera. Students are allowed to have sleepovers in one another’s rooms on the weekends, and many took advantage of this to spend time together before leaving for winter break.
Many students kept closer to campus this weekend, studying for their upcoming exams while we supported their academic pursuits. Students worked individually and in study groups to prepare for finals, as well as joined Upper School faculty members in fun on-campus activities. Melissa Murphy offered a Korean cooking activity in Mercedes’ kitchen and Robin Huffman opened up the weight room. Those students who wished to go off campus went to San Francisco to watch the Men’s Varsity Basketball team play University High School. Women’s Varsity and Men’s Junior Varsity basketball teams also had away games. Everyone reconvened in Mercedes’ Lounge, primping before finals and the holidays, and enjoying seasonal movies such as The Princess Switch.
Sunday was another rainy day, and students joined the staff in the Conservatory to practice their instruments, dance in the Dance Studio, and shop for supplies in Novato at Vintage Oaks. For those who remained on campus, students gathered to study and learn languages together. Josefina V. ’26 shared words and phrases from Czech with us, including helpful phrases such as “I speak English” and the days of the week. Liza K. ’26 shared some of Hungary’s longest words—which at upwards of forty-two letters are quite a mouthful, not to mention a tongue-twister! Part of the continuing joy for students and staff on campus is that we share cultures and languages with others, and develop a better understanding of language overall.
On Sunday, dorm parent and Upper School teacher Mary Churchill took several students on a beach clean-up outing. “Jean Z. ’25 and Dylan S. ’25 are organizing monthly community beach clean-ups with Overdue, an organization whose purpose is to make our cities cleaner,” Ms. Churchill tells us. “We spent 90 minutes walking around Ocean Beach in San Francisco and picked up eight bags of trash—48 pounds! We then visited Sutro Baths and Lands End for a short walk and finished the afternoon with some poke in Mill Valley. We had five boarding students join and can't wait for more students and community members to join us.”
On Monday we began our finals week! For those students who needed a break after preparing for tests, we offered boba making in Mercedes’ to both day and boarding students, and boy was it a hit! Among the students participating were Amahji C. ’25, a boarding student and member of our winning Women’s Varsity Basketball team. Students also went off campus to cheer on the Men’s Soccer team at Marin Catholic. We love to support our winter sports teams!
As the week continued, Tuesday brought the first official day of testing. Each student had a maximum of two tests per day, split between the morning and afternoon, with time in-between to take a break and switch gears for the next exam. Testing ends on Friday morning, leaving students free to leave campus on Friday or over the weekend. We send them off with best wishes while they visit friends and family, or stay with their extended family during the long break.
One of the most exciting and active times of year is just before students leave for break! Students rush around happily getting their things together for the upcoming break. As students end their academic responsibilities, they are free to travel, see family and friends, and bid farewell to the boarding program for a couple of weeks. For students who remain on campus, it comes with a welcome reprieve from the busyness of school life and the chance to spend their time with more space and the promise of time away from their rigorous academic pursuits.