The first Ardingly College Boarding Experience took place during the May Half Term.
Pupils currently in Years 5 and 6 from Prep Schools in London and surrounding counties arrived on Friday morning with their overnight bags packed. They joined teachers as well as our Senior School house masters and mistresses for a day and a half of fun activities, with a sleepover in one of our modern boarding houses.
The boys and girls were naturally apprehensive at first, but their nervousness melted away once they had been shown around the lovely boarding house and found their rooms. They heard Mr Curran, who is Head of Boarding, tell them about the amazing array of activities lined up for them and, eager to get started, they happily waved goodbye to their parents.
The day began with team-building activities, hosted by older students from our Remove (Year 10) year group. This involved a series of games, testing everyone involved.
Next was a choice of activities: a hockey masterclass with Head of Hockey Mr Lane, a football masterclass with Head of Football Mr Millard and a comedy drama workshop with Mrs Marshall-McBain.
Fortunately, the sun was shining for our BBQ lunch on the Terrace.
Next it was a short walk to the edge of our campus for water sports on Ardingly Reservoir. You could go paddle-boarding or kayacking.
Some braved the water on their own whilst others paired up. The over-sized paddle board managed to fit four, including Mr Curran. An afternoon on the water would not be complete without a a jump from the jetty followed by hot chocolate.
A brief return to the boarding house allowed the children to change, ready for their art activity, where Mrs Fuller led a session on etching and printing.
Friday evening meant Domino's pizza. The youngsters still had plenty of energy, playing Twister, pool, piano and table football.
There was also a trip to the Headmaster's Field for marshmallows toasted over the fire pit.
A perfect end to the first day.
Our wonderful catering department brought a continental breakfast down to the House and the fresh croissants and pains au chocolat were devoured.
Head of Science Dr Spiers and his team of engineers led a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) session based around building a solar car. The boys and girls heard how Ardingly College was the first school in Europe to design, build and race a solar car across Australia in 2015. They also learnt how we are taking the project forward, developing a more sophisticated model for the 2019 World Solar Challenge.
Divided into teams they were tasked with building their own mini solar cars in the DT department, before returning to the Ardingly Solar Car workshop to race them along the Solar Speedway.
All good things must come to an end and the children reluctantly packed their bags and returned to the Terrace to meet their families for lunch. Their parents had arrived slightly earlier to find out more about boarding from a panel consisting of a student, parent, staff and a member of the national Boarding Schools Association.
The Boarding Experience was a fantastic opportunity for the girls and boys. It gave them a real taste of what it would be like to board and their parents had the reassurance of knowing that our experienced house masters and mistresses provide a safe and happy environment. Those nervous about the prospect of boarding came away having had a wonderful time and, importantly, felt confident that they would make friends and enjoy staying away from home.
The Boarding Experience will take place again next year on June 1 and 2. It will be open to children in Years 5 and 6 at the time. Places are limited so early booking is advisable.
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