Karly Bullock ’19 reflects on the importance of community at Peddie.
As I write this piece, I’m sitting in the Caspersen History House, on campus for the summer, back to help with Peddie’s summer programs. While many students are heading back to campus for summer school and various sports camps, there is an empty void amongst the brick buildings -- expanding across center campus and covering the fields.
A stillness replaces the buzz of students talking between classes and the voices of Peddie teachers discussing things from Homer’s “Iliad” to current events in the hallways. The sounds of whistles being blown on the sports fields and roaring cheers from students as they cheer on fellow Falcons from the sidelines is nowhere to be found on this beautiful summer afternoon.
While the sun still floods across center campus and sets behind the Ayer Memorial Chapel each night, the beauty of the school isn't complete without its students. As the summer pushes on and camps move kids in and out of the dorms, we get closer and closer to gaining back the students who make up the heart and soul of the school.
Once mid-August hits, the birds in the trees on center campus perk up. Bit by bit faculty start returning from their summer homes and vacations and prepare for students to return. Dorms slowly begin to fill as football preseason begins and soon the dining hall is flooded with hungry Falcon athletes. Soon after, more dorms are filled with Peddie field hockey players, soccer players, cross country runners, and tennis players. The laughs and chattering voices start to fill the late August air as teams bond and train for the upcoming season.
Then comes one of my favorite weekends on campus -- the weekend before classes start. The sounds of prefects and orientation leaders chanting and welcoming the cars of newcomers echo across campus. The weekend is filled with sounds of nervous freshmen filling the halls of Potter and Masters dorms as they unload their belongings in their new homes for the year, and the sounds of orientation leaders, doing the rain dance with new students as we kick off another amazing POCO (Peddie On Campus Orientation) weekend. I love the laughter of new and returning students as we compete in an orientation Amazing Race competition, taking us one step closer to the new academic year.
All of these sounds start to fill campus again, and the excitement and energy of the students rejuvenate the community. The dorms are filled with students who are ready to embark on another year at Dear Old Peddie, and the dining hall is filled with teachers and students who anxiously await the first day of classes.
When Labor Day rolls around, the dinging of phone alarms in the dorms wakes students up earlier than most have gotten up all summer. The campus comes alive as each and every Peddie member whether a boarding, day student, teacher, freshman, or PG, comes together and walks into Peddie’s magnificent buildings for the first time in months. While the morning hustle and bustle returns to Peddie’s hall, with students from near and far, the school still doesn’t seem to feel like a complete community just yet.
Once 12:20 p.m. rolls around, the hallway leading into the dining hall starts to fill with backpacks, each a different color, shape, texture and size, holding different books and belongings of its owner. One small thing unites them all, which is the piles and piles that these bags create in the hallway day in and day out, seven days a week.
The pile of backpacks outside of the dining hall is much more than a sloppy mess of student’s belongings. It symbolizes Peddie’s diverse community of students of different backgrounds and talents. Each backpack supports the one on top of it and comes together to make up one part of a whole group. So while to an outsider, the backpacks lying outside the dining hall, surrounding the bell in Annenberg Hall, or strewn about in the science center cubbies may look like a mess, to us Peddie Falcons it symbolizes much more: a supporting and loving Peddie community.
The best way to experience the Peddie community is to visit our campus. Attend an Open House or schedule a tour.