Boarding Buddies

Boarding School can be an exhilarating yet daunting experience for students transitioning into Year 7. Two of our Boarding House Heads, Bernadette O’Donoghue and Scout Symons, explain how our special Buddy program helps our new boarders settle into living at Ascham, with friendship and loads of support.

‘The challenges of adapting to a new environment, managing academic workload and forging new relationships can seem overwhelming for Year 7 boarders. However, the easing of this transition is supported through our Buddy program. The program pairs a Year 7 to a Year 12 boarder, offering guidance, support and friendship throughout the boarding journey. Building meaningful connections is integral to the Boarding School experience. For Year 7 students, forming friendships with peers and finding a sense of belonging are essential for adjusting to life away from home. The program helped Year 7 tremendously already, just weeks into the start of Term 1.

Our Year 12s offer insights into the Boarding School experience, provide reassurance during times of homesickness, and serve as a reliable source of advice and encouragement. These experiences not only benefit the Year 7 students they mentor but can also be a valued and cherished experience for Year 12. As often does happen, the ‘giving’ role can provide more to the giver than expected, and this certainly happens for our Year 12 boarders.

Year 12 boarder Rose thoroughly enjoys the time she spends with Year 7 boarder Lakshmi and is happy to be a role model and support to her. Rose answers any questions Lakshmi has about schoolwork, teachers and expectations—though she finds Lakshmi confident and knowledgeable about Ascham because she has already been a Junior School student here. The friendship between Year 7s and 12s is acknowledged by the older girls during the School day. This simple sign of boarding kinship helps the younger girls feel a sense of belonging and value.

As outlined by Head Boarder, Sofia, the group activities for the buddies so far this year have included a creative tie dye t-shirt activity, pizza night, and a picnic at McKell Park, among many other things. Sofia has taken her own buddy, Adelaide, to the uniform shop, helped her with her diary and planning, as well as enjoyed the many conversations they’ve had. Whenever Adelaide needs help or advice, Sofia is available for her.

Year 12 Camilla loves having ‘that person in Year 7 to say Hi to at School’ and couldn’t wait to hear about her buddy Bella’s experience at Year 7 camp. Camilla believes that the older buddies are important as role models for the Year 7 girls, and for helping them understand what boarding is about. The older girls remember how exciting, but also somewhat scary, it can feel to be in Year 7. Camilla will organise a special dinner out with her Bella sometime later in the year.

Each Year 12 boarder enjoys sitting with their buddy at dinner, in that very comfortable way, to get to know each other, and all particularly enjoy the bonding activities at Tuesday night formal dinners. Having birthdays away from home for the first time can be a tricky experience for the Year 7 girls, so their Year 12 buddies often try to make this a happy and memorable event.

Year 12 Beatrice feels lucky and grateful for the warm relationship she is developing with her buddy, Zarie. She is getting to know Zarie very well and is proud of the way Zarie has settled into boarding and how she has managed her friendships and study—especially since Zarie’s family lives a long distance away. The two girls have bonded over their similar sense of humour and way of looking at the world. They have made cookies together and caught up frequently for chats. Beatrice believes they’ll stay in each other’s lives always—just as Beatrice has remained close friends with a buddy she was matched with when she was in Kindergarten in Neutral Bay!

Such is the way our wonderful Buddy program works at Ascham, that the connections made can develop into precious, real and long-lasting friendships.’

11 Apr 2024

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