Learning to Love Lawrenceville

in Editorials | April 7, 2023

In last Thursday’s first presidential forum, ten IV Formers aspiring to lead our student body faced a gargantuan question: “How would you define our campus culture? How might you work to improve it?” 
 In response, each presidential candidate detailed their plans to tear apart the current Lawrenceville and, in its wake, create the Lawrenceville utopia we all desire. Common trends in every answer included increasing mental health awareness on campus, fixing the existing lack of balance between academic and social life, and revitalizing our dwindling school spirit.
Still, the shortcomings of Lawrenceville are well dissected outside of  school-wide forums. For the past few years, Lawrenceville’s flaws have become the favorite topic of student discussions in dining halls, common rooms, and courtyards alike. Of course, these discussions make valid and fair criticisms of the School—as students who spend nearly every waking hour on campus for nine months, one cannot not notice Lawrenceville’s shortcomings. Yet at the same time, a reason must exist for why we students choose to live our lives in New Jersey, a place where the weather fluctuates between 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the span of two days. Yes, we must admit: our lives at Lawrenceville do not always appear to be as glamorous as the admissions brochures and hype squads may portray it. Still, we should remember to celebrate the school from time to time.
For one, we all came to Lawrenceville understanding the School's academic rigor and competitiveness, filled with students who strive for the best. Whether achieving the title of top varsity athlete, smartest student in class, or president of the most clubs, Lawrentians will strive to accomplish anything and everything they can. This prevailing sense of overachievement should come at no surprise, given that the School actively seeks and gathers the greatest young minds.
Yet while we strive to achieve as much as possible—and Lawrenceville’s unparalleled resources make it easy for us to pursue our academic, athletic, and extracurricular interests— it’s our student culture that truly makes the School a great place to explore. Regardless of any convictions we hold about ourselves coming into the School, our interests are subject to change as we discover new things about ourselves in our four years here. The most nurturing school environments are those that encourage you to explore new interests, which may sprout into your strongest passions and instill the courage to delve into any other passion headfirst. As Lawrentians, we find ourselves amongst a supportive net of teachers, duty teams, and peers who encourage us to pursue any activity, regardless of prior experience. Across the board, Lawrenceville’s unique academic opportunities allow students to pursue emerging interests. 
Although we tend to give most of our attention to the activities and academic fields we already excel at, an honest reflection of what high school should look like for most people should lead us to look for the schools that will support us as we, and our interests, evolve. Put simply, Lawrenceville stands out by fostering the best environment for the most important aspect of a high schooler’s life: growth and development. 
Yet what we may find as a surprise is the unbreakable community of people who surround us. Simply put, the best part of Lawrenceville is its people. Think about who you text when you’re seeking a Tsai dinner companion. Whose door you knock on when you need to chat with someone. Who saves you a seat in the McGraw Reading Room the night before a daunting math test. These are your closest friends; you choose to bask in their company. Think late night study sessions, Sunday morning room cleaning sprees, running in the rain to the delivery shack. The faces that populate our everyday Lawrenceville lives are what make our memories worth remembering, and stand out amidst the everyday drudgery of boarding school.
Despite our mundane routine of classes, clubs, and sports looping on end, the little interactions we have—whether a smile and a wave in the hallway or a brief conversation after class—never fail to brighten our days. As a community, we bond over our shared, uniquely-Lawrentian quirks. There’s our disdain for The Hill School and our love for Deb and Fatima at the Bath House. There’s our collective sigh of exasperation when we’re looking for a library pod during finals week, and the multitude of hotspots that pop up after 12:00 AM on a school night. Yes, the stress of constant competition and the ominous cloud of college admissions may loom over us, but our friendships still thrive because of our collective Lawrenceville experiences. Lawrenceville is so much more than a place—it is a collection of the people and the memories that make our lives as students worthwhile.
It is difficult to encapsulate an entire school of 800 individuals into a couple of words—how could you possibly cram every late night phone call, every group study session, and every common-room gossip circle under a single umbrella? Perhaps, the IV Form presidential candidates were asked to perform an impossible task. We can easily point out what Lawrenceville gets wrong, from the most minute complaints to striking, school-wide issues. But, with a little bit of reflection, it also isn’t that difficult to appreciate everything Lawrenceville gets right.