In my mind, there are two versions of Groton School. There is the version during the school year that we all know and love, always busy and bustling, full of energy and vibrancy. Then there is the version that most people don’t often see—the empty Groton. I experienced empty Groton when I lingered a few hours longer before spring break, after everyone had gone. I also lived through a month of this version during my summer at GRACE, where there were only twenty-something of us on campus.
Empty Groton is calm in almost an eerie way: the wind howls through the empty fields and the Circle—a patch of endless, vast green, with nobody and nothing on it. The Dining Hall and Schoolhouse seem way larger, with the smallest of noises sending echoes throughout. What this shows is that Groton simply is not the same without all the people. In other words, the most important part of Groton is not the beautiful facilities, or the top-notch education, it’s all the people. During the school year, there is always a familiar energy, a buzz in the air, which was missing when most of the people were gone.
When I arrived once again at Groton for preseason a few weeks ago, that buzz that I’d sorely missed was back. I could feel it as soon as I stepped off the bus, and it only added to the excitement I already had about moving into Upper School. In Second and Third Form, we would often talk about Upper School as if it were some type of mystery, relying on little bits and pieces of information to create our own idea of it. Upper School in reality seemed to be pretty close to Upper School in my imagination, except for one thing—when my roommates and I were placed in O’Donnell’s Dorm. It’s an excellent dorm, and our room in it is one of the largest on campus. The people in our dorm are also awesome—and so is our dorm head. I just had one problem—it’s in Brooks House, or “Lower School side.” O’Donnell’s is the only Upper School boys dorm on Lower School side, so I felt isolated from the majority of my formmates in Hundred House, on the other side of the Circle.
That night, I had my first “Fifteen.” This is a fifteen-minute period of time for Fourth Formers between study hall and check-in—basically a time for everything from grabbing a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich from the Dining Hall to hanging out with friends. During the Fifteen, several of my friends who lived across campus from me decided to come and storm our room, staging an “attack” and taking our snacks. As we all laughed hysterically and wrestled for my Doritos and fruit snacks, I came to a realization. The bonds that we build in our time here, throughout classes and weekends and late night study sessions, remain strong whether we are across the Circle from each other or oceans and continents apart. They remain strong throughout tough weeks, long winters, and the ups and downs of a school year, along with our entire Groton careers. As I realized before, when I experienced “empty Groton,” the people here and the bonds we build with each other are what makes Groton…well, Groton. It doesn’t matter where I live because, Brooks House or Hundred House, I’m still part of the larger Groton family, one that has welcomed me with open arms since day one. In that moment, I knew that I would be just fine.