Boarding School for the Summer..What?!

(08-19-2011) — Months before arriving at Exeter Summer School I was very skeptical about even attending. I felt like it would be 5 weeks of being locked away at a boarding school. Also spending my summer swamped with hours of homework didn’t seem like too much fun either. In the end I decided that the experience would be well worth it.

Before going to Exeter I didn’t really know what to expect. My Squash Director, Tony Maruca, went to Exeter for high school and pushed for me to go to the Summer Program. When he explained the program to me he would always speak of the Harkness Table, which didn’t seem like such a big deal and that it would be a fun experience. Tony also told me days before leaving that his younger brother Mike would be the teacher of my Social Ethics class. So, on July 4, I headed up to New Hampshire, where I would taking three classes Physics, Psychology and Social Ethics.

I remember arriving on campus like it was yesterday. I was dropped off in front of the academy building and went upstairs to the Dean’s office. I arrived on campus a day late since my sister got married the first day of summer school. But I missed no classes. Once I got to the Dean’s office with all my bags, she told me to leave them there and head to class.

The first day of class went by so fast its kind of a blur now but I do remember walking into my Social Ethics class, and when Mike (Mr. Maruca) called my name for attendance a student next me said “Hi, you’re Danny Cabrera! You’re my neighbor. I’m TeHquin” in a Memphis, Tennessee accent. At that moment I didn’t realize what happened but it was the start of a good friendship. Later that afternoon I finally moved into my dorm room at the best dorm ever: Main Street. Even though it was at the edge of campus, so far from everything and so close to nothing, it was still the best. I took the nice walk to the gym to sign up for sports. It was a no brainer I would be playing squash for sports while at Exeter!

My time at Exeter flew by. Now that I’ve been home for a week and a half, I look back on my experience at Exeter with amazement. Exeter has taught me to think differently to be skeptical – to not just accept new information just because it’s coming from a teacher. Exeter’s use of the Harkness table in all of their classes is something that I wish every student could experience. Coming from public school where you sit in rows, listen to the teacher, and copy down information they tell you is important, I loved the Harkness table system. Harkness’s method has all the students and teacher sitting at one round table (Harkness table) actually having discussion about the information and why it is relevant instead of note taking and memorizing information. At the Harkness table, the teacher acts as a guide of the conversation but allows students to be the teachers, to discuss and bring new ideas up.

Exeter had great academics but that was only about a quarter of what made it great – the rest definitely had to be the people. I will never forget the friendships I made at Exeter or my caring teachers, who although only had me for five weeks would truly do anything for me to succeed in the classroom and out. At Exeter all of the students made up a very diverse family – “an Exonian family.” At around 10:30 every night after study hours we would all gather in my room or in TeHquin’s room. I preferred TeHquin’s as he had the fan and bug screen. In that room we represented New York, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Germany and Spain. It was cool to be able to just hang out like family and chat or all get scared together and have to walk each other back to our rooms after watching a scary horror movie.

Although that I’m back home and my friends and I can’t pop into each other’s rooms any more or being able to see familiar faces around campus my friendships still continue thanks to social networking sites and Skype. After saying see you later, not goodbye, to my Exonian family I am now back with my family at home, and my family at StreetSquash.
-Danny Cabrera ’12