Fessenden Boarding Frequently Asked Questions
Our New England boarding school’s weekend program is considered one of the best in the country, offering more than 800 trips and activities throughout the year. Each weekend, boys choose from 20-25 options led by residential faculty. Just 20 minutes from one of the most culturally rich and vibrant cities in the country, our boys take advantage of everything Boston has to offer—professional and collegiate sporting events, museums, theaters, historical sites, musical venues, and community service opportunities. The mountains and lakes of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as the beaches of Cape Cod and the Islands are only slightly more than an hour’s drive from campus. Outdoor adventure options range from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, surfing, and white water rafting. Our activities and location are two of the best things about being a boarding student at Fessenden.
The safety and well-being of students is The Fessenden School’s top priority. Boys are supervised in the dorm and during study halls, meals, and weekend activities. Under the guidance of the more than 40 residential life faculty and staff that live on campus, our junior boarding school provides an environment for boarding students that enables them to develop independence while still feeling supported and aims to provide a seamless transition to secondary boarding school.
Fessenden communicates with boarding families in a variety of ways.
Orah, our residential life management software, is an important tool for communication between families and the School, particularly regarding student departures from and arrivals to campus.
My Fessy, our student and parent portal, is another means by which families receive information about their child. Faculty and staff post commendations and residential notes that are accessible to the boarder’s parents.
Halfway through the year, dorm parents write residential narrative comments about each boarding student. In addition, the Residential Life Office sends out a monthly newsletter with information recapping the past month, and information about upcoming events.
The Residential Life Office at our New England boarding school coordinates travel to/from Boston’s Logan airport and local train bus and train stations, both for official school breaks, and also one-off needs. We provide unaccompanied minor service for our younger student travelers as necessary. We also can make recommendations for private transportation services
Our junior boarding school students live in one of seven dormitories on campus: Hart House, Memorial, Sanderson, Hyde I, Hyde II, Hyde III, and Moore Hall. Each dorm has a minimum of two dorm parents who are on duty each night and during weekends. In addition to dorm parents, two ninth-grade proctors live on every dorm floor.
Yes. We believe in the importance of providing students with greater exposure to our global community. Boarding students have the unique opportunity to cross geographic and cultural borders and experience for themselves how diverse viewpoints enrich education and enhance life.
Lunch and dinner are served family-style, while breakfast is buffet style. Choices typically include hot entrees, sandwiches, an extensive salad bar, and a sampling of fresh fruits. All students are encouraged to make healthy choices. Weekend meals are also served buffet style, which affords a more relaxing dining experience. Table assignments change every two weeks, allowing our boarding school students to know everyone, not just the boys in their grade or dorm.
The Fessenden boarding school program is for boys in Grades 5-9.
Fessenden’s dorms are only closed four times during the course of the academic year. All students return home for the winter holidays and spring break. During the shorter breaks of Thanksgiving and Presidents’ Day weekend, our residential program organizes trips. Past offerings have included: skiing in the mountains of New England, Disney World, the Florida Keys, and home stays with Fessenden families or faculty members.
Fessenden students come from across the country and around the world. In the past five years, we have enrolled students from 28 states, 23 countries, and 84 towns in the greater Boston area. Our New England boarding school actively seeks to enroll students from around the country and the world, which brings a unique global perspective to our community.
Since nearly 100 percent of the weekend activities are included in our junior boarding school tuition, the boys need very little spending money on the weekends. However, to cover any out-of-pocket expenses, each boy has an individual account set up by his parents. When he needs money, he fills out a request and the money is given to him on Friday afternoon before his weekend plans begin.
Yes. Giving back to the local community is an important experience for the students. We provide boys with many opportunities to partake in community service activities throughout the year that benefit the internal Fessenden community and those in our greater Boston community.
Current and past opportunities include:
- Organizing donations at “Cradles to Crayons,” which provides essential items that children living in homeless or low-income situations need to thrive.
- Playing soccer or ice skating with athletes from Newton Athletes Unlimited, a program that provides athletic and other community building programs to individuals of all ages with disabilities.
- Singing and playing board games with residents of the nearby Scandinavian Living Center retirement community
- Participating in an annual Day of Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Fessenden’s Health Center is committed to keeping students healthy. A healthy body and mind help make the school day a positive experience for our boys. The office is staffed by a registered nurse during school hours as well as during evening and weekend hours for the needs of our boarding school students. The Center's nursing staff provides first aid and emergency treatment care in the office. Our school physician, Dr. Ellen Geminiani of Boston Children’s Hospital, oversees the Health Center staff.
If needed, we are fortunate to be only 10 minutes away from world-class medical facilities and nurses in the Health Center will refer and accompany boys to other specialists, if necessary.
The Fessenden Health Center employs a full-time school psychologist (Kristin Harris) and a full-time licensed clinical social worker (Sabrina Alampi). They are available to consult with parents about issues including educational testing and therapeutic counseling. The Health Center also works with other outside psychologists who are available to meet with our boys by appointment, on an as-needed basis. Parents may arrange for these services through Dr. Harris or the Health Center nurses.
Since 1954, when Fessenden added a five-day boarding program, local boys have had the option of returning home on Friday after their athletic commitment to spend the weekends with family and friends. These boys then return to our New England boarding school campus on Sunday evening or Monday morning. This option allows families to experience boarding school in a safe and familiar place before moving on to a seven-day secondary boarding school. Learn more about Fessenden’s boarding options.