Overnight program helps girls feel excited about boarding away from home

MACARTHUR’S Isabelle Musson was feeling nervous, to say the least, when faced with the prospect of leaving her Western District home to attend boarding school at St Catherine’s School in Melbourne.

“I was absolutely terrified by the thought of living in the same house as so many girls,” said the Year 10 boarder. “I thought that it would take a long time to settle into the different environment, away from home and my close family.”

However, after an overnight stay orientation program in the school’s boarding house, Isabelle’s anxiousness and uncertainty faded.

“I was surprised by how excited I was about the idea of going to a boarding school,” Isabelle said. “Although I knew that living away from my family would be an enormous change, I felt better prepared because I met so many friendly girls in just one night.”

The overnight stay program offers prospective students the chance to experience life in the boarding house before they enrol at St Catherine’s.

Head of boarding Sue Collister said the program helped girls feel confident and comfortable with the idea of boarding.

“The girls will usually spend a night in boarding house and attend classes at the school during the day,” Ms Collister said.

“It is just a normal night in the boarding house, so they can see exactly what boarding life is like. They experience dinner time, study time and then bedtime.”

Students can choose to stay any night that suits them.

Wagga Wagga’s Georgina Jenkins also took part in the overnight stay program at St Catherine’s before she started as a boarder this year.

“I had a slight idea of what to expect as my brother had attended Melbourne Grammar School,” said the Year 10 student. “I quickly realised there was a lot more freedom than I had anticipated, making it an easy environment to settle into.”

Ms Collister has been at the helm of the Toorak school’s boarding house for nearly 12 years and said it was common for students to feel anxious.

“Boarding is a huge commitment for families. There is often a change in the family dynamics when their daughter attends boarding school,” Ms Collister said, explaining her pastoral care duties extend to parents as well as girls.

“Sometimes the mother just needs a cup of coffee and a chat.”

St Catherine’s boarding house accommodates 52 students and accepts girls in Years 7-12.

The current group of boarders are from regional towns across Australia as well as Hong Kong, Malaysia and China, with 32 local and 20 international students.

The school’s next open morning is Tuesday, May 7 at 10am. To register, contact registrar Jeanette Boehm on (03) 9828 3917.

Camille Smith

The Weekly Times


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