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Building Bonds Outside the Classroom

Building Bonds Outside the Classroom

Kent Place’s theme for 2023–2024 is “Deepening Connections in Community,” expanding on an aspect of the KPS experience that has long set the school apart — the focus on stepping outside the classroom to strengthen bonds at the start of the academic year.

The emphasis on forming connections has become especially important to Middle School and Upper School students as they enter a stage in their lives when both independence and belonging are at the forefront — whether they’re new to Kent Place, making the jump from Primary School to Middle School or from Middle School to Upper School, or are simply preparing for a new year after a summer away.

Middle School students, accompanied by their advisors, go on the annual overnight retreat lakeside at Woodloch Pines, in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania. Although adventure is undoubtedly on the agenda, the purpose of the trip is to foster togetherness.

Says CeCe Kim ’28, “I’ve traveled to Woodloch before, when I was in sixth and seventh grades, but going back as an eighth-grader was different because I took on more responsibility by helping to lead the younger students during activities and competitions. I definitely feel more connected and bonded with my classmates and the Middle School community after the retreat.”

Adds sixth-grader Remi Dustin, “My first trip to Woodloch really helped me prepare for Middle School. I gained so much independence, and I was able to spend a lot of time with my classmates.”

Tenth- and 11th-graders participate in their own overnight trips, to an adventure campsite in the Ramapo Mountains in northwest New Jersey and to historic Philadelphia, respectively. Tenth-graders challenge themselves on ropes courses, rock-climbing walls, and in archery; 11th-graders tour the streets and monuments of Philadelphia, with an eye toward art, architecture, and history.

Back on campus, ninth-graders spend the day with their Senior Sisters in several bonding activities. Senior Sisters, a tradition in the Upper School, matches a ninth-grader with a senior to foster mentoring of the student new to the Upper School.

“As a freshman coming into a new environment, it was nice to hear the perspectives of seniors who have been around the school for a long time,” says ninth-grader Mira Emany. “The seniors provided tips and advice that will make the transition into the Upper School much easier. Not to mention that the seniors were incredibly friendly, and the entire day was a lot of fun. My favorite activity was playing Calabria with my Senior Sister.” 

Kent Place puts just as much emphasis on creating opportunities for students to bond with one another and become acquainted with their teachers and the campus culture as it does on academically challenging classes. It’s no surprise, then, that connections formed during the first few weeks of school often last for years beyond the girls’ time at KPS.