What It's Really Like: Being a Student at a Boarding School
by Dmitri van Grieken
My name is Dmitri Sergei van Grieken, I'm 19 years old, a junior, and I’m from St. Maarten. St. Maarten is a beautiful, sunny, thirty four square mile island. It is divided into the Dutch and French part, with both sides falling under their respective kingdoms. The weather here in Florida doesn’t differ much than it does at home. However, here in Lake Wales, it definitely tends to get colder during fall/winter. For us back at home, it’s essentially summer year round.
My family and I first heard about Vanguard through my friend’s mother, who had sent him here a couple years back. She said that he thoroughly enjoyed the school and she noticed some changes in
him for the better. At that time, I was doing online homeschooling, and eventually it got really, really boring. My mom decided to look at the school. We eventually spoke about it and she asked me what I thought. Being away from home for a week may be tough, but being with family makes it a lot easier. However, it’s completely different when it’s two to three months at a time with no family around. I had been here for Summer Camp and I attended for the entire four weeks. So, I was already used to being away from home for a longer period of time. During the summer, I got to meet some of the teachers and students that I would later see during the normal school year. Fast forward to now, one month before school ends, and I can happily say that things have been going great.
During the school year, you really start to form bonds with staff and teachers. Soon they become people you can genuinely trust. They become like parents and that’s really helpful, especially if your family isn’t closely available to help you. The teachers and staff here don’t just help you because it’s their job, they help you because they genuinely want to see you succeed. The classes are small, so there really is that extra drive to help you. Teachers can evenly divide up his or her attention to the students. Back in my old school, during middle school, it was an entire grade in one class, so we’re looking at like 20-30 kids per class. With that, there were many questions and many kids needing help. It seemed like if I wasn’t fully understanding the material, I’d have to toughen it up and figure it out on my own before the test or I wasn’t going to do well. With this school though, there really is no need to NOT ask questions. As I said, the classes are smaller, so your questions aren’t lost in the midst of other questions. If something is not understood, it is so much easier to rectify misunderstandings with the content that is being taught.
Since this is a boarding school, kids from all over the world and different ethnic backgrounds attend, and it really is a beautiful sight to see. I’ve gotten to know people from various corners of this earth. I’ve also gotten to know people who share many of the same interests of mine, and that helps solidify our friendships. Some of these friends I won’t get to see next year, some of them I’ll end up graduating with, and some will still be here when I’m gone. In the end, it’s been a great year at Vanguard this year, and I thoroughly look forward to next year.