Birthday cupcakes, themed decorations and music, and eating with new friends are all part of Hun’s boarding tradition of community dinners.
Held several times during the school year, the dinners have themes ranging from November’s Thanksgiving Feast, eaten in pajamas to provide extra room for all the trimmings, to a family game night in December complete with breakfast for dinner (in PJs, again), and board games. (A raucous round of the card game Uno is among the most popular.)
In February, Hun’s community dinner celebrated Black History Month, with a playlist reflecting jazz greats, a menu of traditional African-American foods, and table tents with bios of notable people of color. And each community dinner celebrates that month’s birthdays with paper hats, cupcakes, and a room-wide verse of Happy Birthday.
“It’s a time for the community to be together around the same theme, to talk, and meet people they might not normally see,” said Associate Director of Resident Life Meghan Poller. Random seating, sometimes drawn from a hat, helps encourage new friendships among boarders and dorm parents, as well.
The community dinners are planned and carried out by Hun’s team of twenty-five proctors. Juniors and seniors, proctors act as liaisons between boarders and dorm parents, help supervise nightly study hall, and sometimes just provide a sympathetic ear.
“I like the random seating,” said proctor Kobi Iheoma ’19. “You meet people who don’t live in your dorm, or are in a different grade. I leave having talked to someone new, and that is kind of nice.”
On months without community dinners, boarders have a community meeting, where they break into small groups for discussion. In October, proctors, dorm parents, and boarders discussed living away from home for the first time, and dealing with homesickness.
Community dinners are just one part of Hun’s rich resident life program, which includes study halls, access to teacher tutoring in the evenings, and an extensive program of weekend activities.
“I love boarding here,” said proctor Nicole Kiczek ’20, who lives on campus though her family lives less than 20 miles away. “I love being with my friends all the time, and I really wanted a head start on college. And there are so many activities on the weekend, from trips out for sushi, to Wawa, or to ice skate. On weekends at home, I often want to come back to campus early so I don’t miss out. It really is such a friendly environment; it feels like home.”