Located just minutes from Boston, one of America’s most culturally rich and cosmopolitan cities, The Fessenden School prepares boys to succeed in the diverse, technology-driven world they are soon to inherit.
Fessenden’s student-centered, teacher-supported approach truly makes this school unique, promoting interactive exchange over direct instruction, collaboration over competition, and learning for life over learning for school. It’s the perfect balance of project- and passion-based learning, because faculty at Fessenden understand that when boys tap into deep-rooted interests, they’re much more invested in the process.
Fessenden’s innovative style helps students perfect the most sought-after skills in today’s market: communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, character and cross-cultural competency. As Curt Lewellyn, the school’s Director of Center of Innovation, explains “Teaching boys to be creative problem solvers, critical thinkers and global citizens is the hallmark of what we refer to as a 21st century education.”
That’s why Fessenden offers an education these young men never forget, empowering them to believe in their ambition, thus making it a reality. Connor O’Keefe, a 15-year-old student from Bermuda, is one such young man.
Connor has attended The Fessenden School since 7th grade. Now a senior, he’s set to graduate this year and enter the wider world. But what’s life really like as a student at this school?
We asked Connor for his insight:
SI: Describe a day in your life as a boarding student, including time spent outside of classes.
Connor: “I wake up at 6:30am, clean my room and go to breakfast with my friends at 7:15am. After breakfast, I go to morning meeting where Upper School grades meet with teachers and coaches to start the day.
“Classes go from 8:10am through 2:50pm with time for an advisor meeting, lunch and a chance to meet with teachers at the end of the day before sports. I train for 1.5 hours with my teams every day and take part in competitive games against other schools every Wednesday and Friday. It’s often my favourite time of the day being with my teammates and coaches.
“I have 30 minutes of free time after sports and then have structured study time for an hour before dinner. We have a family style dinner for 45 minutes. The food is really good, and then our second study hall from 6:45 until 8pm. After study hall, we have free time where we can play sports with our buddies for an hour.
“We can go to the turf fields or tennis courts to play soccer or tennis or stay inside and go to one of the three gyms to play basketball, dodge ball or floor hockey. The weight room, squash courts, and Center for Innovation and music practice rooms are also open every night.
“It’s awesome, there’s always something to do during my free time between 8-9pm. After free time, I go back to my dorm, grab a shower, clean my room and get organized for tomorrow, relaxing until lights out at 10pm. My days are pretty structured, but that’s good for me, it keeps me busy and focused on my academics and sports.”
SI: What are your favourite classes at The Fessenden School?
Connor: “I like all of my classes, but I love biology. I learn more by doing hands-on activities in the lab. We have a double lab block once a week which allows me to learn more by doing rather than sitting and taking notes.
“I also enjoy history. At my old school I didn’t like history, but at Fessenden, my teacher made it fun and we do a lot of collaborative work with other subjects such as English.”
SI: What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
Connor: “I love woodworking and have taken it all three years – sometimes twice in the same year. I love it because of my teacher, Mr. Alton, is an amazing woodworker and makes the class fun! I feel it is a skill I can take away from Fessenden and use in the future. I still feel challenged in this class because Mr. Alton doesn’t allow me to slide. He is always encouraging me to stretch myself and take on more difficult projects.
“I am currently in the honors woodworking class. I love the fact that I can design my own projects independently based on what I would like to build. I have also taken art, and in the past before coming to Fessenden, I didn’t consider myself “artistic”, but I really enjoyed the class. The class touched on many different mediums of art, but I really loved working with clay, sculpting, and working on the electric pottery wheel.
“Sports are also important to me and I have loved the camaraderie of playing on my soccer team because my teammates come from eight different countries and six different states in the United States.”
SI: Do you enjoy learning in a boarding environment?
Connor: “I love it! I get to work/collaborate with all my classmates during study halls at night and if I were at home, I wouldn’t get that opportunity.
“I also get extra help from my teachers in the evenings and weekends since most of them live on campus. If I lived at home, I would never have met with one of my teachers at night or on the weekend – at Fessenden – I do it all the time!”
SI: What to you typically do at the weekend?
Connor: “The weekend program at Fessenden was one of the main reasons I came here. Every weekend we have over 25 trips and activities to choose from, both on campus or in and around Boston and they offer something like 800 trips a year.
“I love going to professional and college sports in and around Boston, even to watch sports I don’t play. I go to college hockey games all the time and got to go to a Red Sox game last spring. It’s a blast because all the trips are chaperoned by my teachers and coaches, so I often go to watch a Harvard soccer or tennis match with them and my friends.
“In my senior year, I am taking advantage of going on as many trips as I can every weekend, because I know my next school will not have the weekend opportunities I have here at Fessenden. Being close to Boston is the best – there is so much to do!
SI: What do you enjoy most about being at boarding school?
Connor: “The close connections with my teachers. When I went to my old school I never really got to know my teachers as people; they were my teachers and were formal in the classroom, but at Fessenden, I get to know them as people because they teach me, coach me, run my dormitory, and I go on weekend trips with them.
“Living away from home and parents, I feel I am much more independent and confident in my academics and athletics and am really prepared for secondary school. I have learned how to manage my time and homework by living in a structured environment and will be really prepared to handle the independence I will have at secondary school when nobody will be looking over my shoulder all the time.”
Connor is just one example of a thriving Fessenden School student. As a school that attracts students and faculty from across the US and the globe, this diverse, inclusive and nurturing environment is ideal for the modern young man, instilling the him with the critical skills, self-confidence and worldview needed to succeed in secondary school and beyond.
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