the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Alice Liu ’23
Fall term elapsed quickly. In retrospect, it contained many memorable moments. For new students, it was a time of adapting to the vibe of a new community; for athletes, it was a return to interscholastic competitions after a year of remission; for distance learners from last year, it was a time of readjusting to wearing jeans or blazers. But of all the moments that comprise this term, the one that stands out the most is perhaps the fall long weekend. For all of us, following a two-month grind, it was a much-needed time of relaxation and rejuvenation.
That being said, some of us experienced long weekend differently from the rest. For the first time, campus was open to students over the long weekend. During those three days, 30 students (including myself) stayed on campus. Here is what it was like.
When asked to rate their experience staying on campus over the long weekend, everyone reported overwhelmingly high ratings. Both Heather Zhu ‘23 and Jacqueline Wu ’24 rated their experiences 4/5. “It was nice having the campus to myself for a while, although I do miss going home,” they told me. Alice Tao ’24 gave a solid 5/5. She particularly appreciated having lone access to the gym and the squash courts, which enabled her “to get out there and train” by herself. Carolyn Cheng ’24 rated her experience “a crisp 4.67,” explaining that while she had to do some work outside of school, she had “an amazing experience overall and came back to school refreshed and recharged (big smiley face)” Although everyone enjoyed their experiences, their highlights varied. On the first day, Carolyn walked to a thrift store downtown. “It was downpouring and there were few people outside, and that whole trip felt pretty surreal,” she told me. “I rarely find the time in a normal school week to walk downtown, so this was by far the best moment of my long weekend.” Food seemed to be a big part of the long weekend. Jacqueline enjoyed exploring the restaurants around Simsbury. Accompanied by Grace Yuan ’23, Heather enjoyed incredible food at Chinese restaurant, Song, in West Hartford. Chiamaka Kanu ’23 enjoyed going on morning jogs to Brookside Bagels, Rush Bowls, and Starbucks in the morning with me.
Chiamaka and I were not the only members of the cross country team running over the long weekend to stay in shape for the meets that were coming up. Carolyn recalled running on Halloween morning. “It was one of the coolest experiences,” she said, “I left Cushing when it was dark outside and I got to see the sunrise. Truly one of the best mornings I've ever had here on the Hill!”
A shared sentiment across all students who stayed on campus was an appreciation for the peace and quiet. “The peacefulness on campus was definitely the biggest difference between campus on a regular school day and campus during long weekend,” Alice recalled. She went on to observe that “everywhere I went, there wouldn’t be anybody or there would be very few people. I could focus on taking care of myself.” Echoing Alice’s comment, Carolyn recalled that “it was really cool to see the campus emptied out and it almost feels like you have it to yourself.”
Heather appreciated not having to line up to use facilities and the peacefulness in Kelter. Some faculty members also shared their appreciation for the peacefulness. When Ms. Hall checked me in for the night one evening, she told me that “it’s not always that you get the campus so peaceful and quiet.” Indeed, with only 30 students and a handful of faculty on a 210 acres campus, everyone was very spread out. Noises diminished. Large spaces were occupied by few people.
The last time I remembered campus so quiet was at the beginning of COVID when I briefly returned after Spring break of 2020 to pack up my stuff and fly home. At that time, there were only three students on campus. Of course, as beautiful and peaceful as the campus was during long weekend, staying on campus is never the same as being home. Both Heather and Jacqueline missed their parents and wished they could see them.
Ultimately, however, students appreciated being allowed to stay on campus over the long weekend. For myself and many others, being able to stay on campus solved the incredible inconvenience of finding a place to stay for three days. Covid travel restrictions and quarantine measures prevented many of us from going home. Staying with friends could also be inconvenient for the friend’s family and unrelaxing for the guest (there is concern over “how would I regulate my behavior so that I do not cause any inconveniences to the host family”) – as much as the hospitality and generosity of the host family is appreciated. Being allowed to stay on campus solved this huge dilemma.
The kindness and thoughtfulness of the faculty were also greatly appreciated. Faculty members, including Mr. Aber, Mr. Rasheed, Mr. Tawney, Ms. Hall, Ms. Moss, Ms. Finn, and Mr. Wos, volunteered to be on duty over the long weekend. They also volunteered to take us to places downtown, such as Chipotle, Five Guys, and Walmart. Although there were only 30 of us on campus, the faculty invested effort into giving all of us a relaxing break and making Westy
feel like home.
Whether running to Brookside Bagels, practicing squash, or eating at Song, the 30 of us appreciated the relaxing and rejuvenating experience of staying on campus. Staying on campus for long weekend was an incredible experience and one that we all appreciated.