It’s easy to fall in love with Holderness School. There’s a certain charm to the place. The well-kept grounds and lovely buildings masterfully blend a collegiate atmosphere with a neighborhood cul-de-sac feel. Just minutes from campus, New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and White Mountains offer some of the nation’s best hiking, climbing, and skiing. The academic program is exciting, challenging, and supportive. Even the food is amazing -- unlimited soft serve, fresh fish every day, and a salad bar that would make a farmer blush. And while these are wonderful things, it doesn’t speak to what makes Holderness Holderness. It’s about the people.
People are a big deal at Holderness. There’s an incredible emphasis on community. The mission statement focuses on the creation of a caring community and one of the school’s core values is, in fact, community. Community is certainly a vital word in the Holderness vocabulary, but there is perhaps another word that more appropriately describes Holderness School: family.
Family might feel like an overused or cliche term, but spend some time on campus and you’ll see that it’s real. We have family-style meals, where students and adults come together a few times each week to share food and conversation. We gather almost daily as an entire school to learn from each other, share a laugh, or join in a common experience. The faculty aren’t just teachers: they coach, advise, and live in dorms because we believe that multiple points of contact make for stronger relationships. We have close-knit advisories and small dormitories because students thrive in an environment where they are known and loved. Students hold each other accountable and help each other in times of need. We say hello on the path and look each other in the eye. Watch students return to campus from Out Back, and you’ll be surrounded by hugs and cheers and joyful tears as friends and family members celebrate this accomplishment with our students.
Faculty work here and live here. Weddings and memorial services take place in our chapel. Faculty kids take their first steps in Rathbun, Hoit, and Weld. Families are literally raised at Holderness. Just come to lunch and you’ll see toddlers running underfoot as students greet each other with high fives and visiting alumni are met with hugs; don’t worry, we’ll welcome you with a handshake and show you around.
Just like any family, we realize there might be moments of imperfection. The work of maintaining a family is hard, but everyone recognizes the value of family. Our leadership program teaches the importance of fairness, initiative, dependability, and empathy -- we rely on each other. Daily, the job program shows how vital each and every person is on campus. We set the table, do the dishes, and make sure Holderness, our home, is tidy. The hopeful work of Holderness is understood by everyone, from our ninth-graders to our Head of School. And, speaking of our Head of School, he opens his home at least once a week so students can take a break, enjoy a brownie sundae or plate of nachos, and sit around a fire. It’s a sight to be seen: more than a hundred students choosing to hang out with the Head of School.
Holderness School doesn’t intend to replace our students’ families; we seek to expand the notion of family. Our faculty serve in loco parentis, or in the place of parents. We commit ourselves to the care and growth of our students. This is seen as a partnership with parents because we understand the sacred privilege of educating their children.
Renowned journalist Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe details how humanity has evolved to thrive on the critical function of a community united by a common experience. So, whether it takes a village, or a tribe, community, or family, one thing is for certain -- student, alum, parent, or employee, there’s a place for you at Holderness.
Changing the status quo can be an uncomfortable task – especially if you benefit from it. That was the message to students from the Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell, the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day speaker and the white author of Seeing My Skin, a personal examination of the role of whiteness in his own life.
The Honor Roll recognizes and commends outstanding achievement and effort in the academic program. Holderness School recognizes that each student's growth and progress is complex. Quarterly comments written by faculty better reflect the unique path traveled by each student, and the Honor Roll and Effort Honor Roll are simplified but significant markers of the engagement of our students in the most recent marking interval.
Affirming Holderness School’s position as the premier snow sports school in the country and committing to the school’s multi-sport athletic philosophy, the New Hampshire boarding school recently received a transformational $6 million gift. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Holderness School is able to jumpstart fundraising initiatives that will better support world-class outdoor athletic facilities and impact every athletic team and snow sports discipline.