On Sunday September 8th, a group of new Third Formers tentatively stepped onto the Circle for the first time as Groton students. Despite the many hours we had all spent taking campus tours, filling out applications, attending revisit days, and meeting with coaches and teachers, we still did not have any idea what being a Groton student actually meant. This was where we looked to our Sixth Form advisers and prefects for guidance.
After a frantic morning of hauling items into Brooks House, introductions to roommates and dorm heads, and unpacking boxes, fifty three students – bubbling with terror, delight, and every emotion in between – were directed into St. John’s Chapel. There we were met by Dr. Humphrey’s kind smile, and our whirlwind of an orientation had begun.
In the following hours we were presented with an overwhelming amount of information – all of which helpful, however, most was not actually retained. Once we had been divided into smaller groups, we were given our school desk assignments and taught how to unlock our mailboxes. We then picked up our school books and found our athletic lockers.
Our senior advisors went to great efforts to ensure that there would be no moments of uncomfortable silence throughout the afternoon by organizing a myriad of name games and get-to-know-you exercises; however, we inevitably engaged in our fair share of hair twirling, ground staring, and repeated inquiries of the same questions. Despite the occasional awkward silence, the experience was undoubtedly a success. Although sitting in a circle discussing our favorite ice cream flavors seemed more than a little juvenile, it was these types of activities that allowed us to let our guards down and begin to feel comfortable with one another.
I remember thinking what a long year this could be when my group first sat down and literally split itself in half – boys on one side, girls on the other. The VI formers were quick to notice this glaring gender divide and promptly instructed us all to stand up and find a new spot in the circle. We all looked a bit sheepish as we realized we had been called out on our immature resistance towards members of the opposite gender, but we were quickly able to laugh this off.
As a whole, the Third Form orientation was helpful not so much because we learned where our classrooms are or what books we need – we still walked around the Schoolhouse in a state of befuddlement the following day – but because it was an opportunity to spend time together learning about one another and bonding over the numerous uncomfortable silences, awkward handshakes, and forced small talk that we shared.