Finding a Home in Your House

Claire Jiang ’24 (Copy Editor, 142nd Board) in Features | September 23, 2022

Two summers before a pandemic swept the world off its feet, two summers before we experienced the unprecedented, two summers before I came to Lawrenceville in the wild throes of change, and two summers before I even knew I wanted to go to a boarding school, I found myself two states away from home in Maryland. The summer after sixth grade, I enrolled in a boarding school summer program. At the end of those two weeks, I learned what living away from home could look like. Up to that point, I had been sheltered and spoiled—I’d never done my own laundry or planned out my meals. It was a jarring lesson on independence and self-reliance, but living with 12 other girls in a dormitory was also so wonderfully memorable. 
There, I learned how a shared experience could create close bonds; it was my first taste of a real community. My experience there was constituted less by its academic challenge and more so by the people who became an integral part of those two weeks. I knew that somehow, in some way, I really wanted to replicate that feeling of home in a community once I got to high school.
When I arrived on campus as a II Former, I came in with an idea of what House life and bonding would look like: I’d feel the same way I felt two years ago, I’d create the same kind of friendships—Lawrenceville, with its mottos of House and Harkness, would become home so quickly. However, adjusting to a different school and creating a community became increasingly difficult, especially as a day student. Instead of calling Girls’ Lower home, I was confined to the basement of the Bunn Library along with other day students. Masks made forming connections even more difficult. There were days when I’d stand in 30ºF weather and shiver during a Saturday night feed. The same went for many other students.
My prefect Anoushka Sharma ’23 explained that as “a day student, [school] during the Covid-19 pandemic was very difficult. Since we couldn’t be inside the House, it was difficult managing how to physically carry everything, literally everything, including our books and bags, and also how to carry ourselves on campus. Beyond physically not being allowed in the House, we couldn’t be in there to make connections with everyone. At times, it felt very isolating that we weren’t part of the House. I’m not going to sugarcoat and say it was easy because it was tough.”
In accordance, Sam Huh ’23, a prefect in the Dickinson House, added that “the socialization between kids now is quite astounding: the bonding is much quicker now because we can see everybody’s facial expressions. We can hear people properly. When I got here my [III Form] Spring, I couldn’t talk to anybody. Everything was awkward.”
In no way did my II Form year go according to what I had envisioned. Still, I ultimately ended up finding the people whom I connected with the most. Forming a community was frustrating and difficult at many times, but the longer I’ve been at this school, the more I’ve understood how important time and patience play a role in connection. 
For new students like Michal Tuczapski ’25, community can be “something completely new.” A homeschooler last year and a student in a small class of 20 the year before, “knowing that I’d stay in one place for three years with the same students and the same teachers was really exciting. I know I will have new experiences that I didn’t have before,” Tuczapski said. 
Living in a House, however, also has its drawbacks. As Huh explained, “You can’t spend as much time with people in other Houses, and the House system inhibits you from getting to know these people who live in other Houses, who may possibly be best friend [material]. You never get to explore the possibility.” But one of the biggest advantages of living in a House “is being able to find people [whom] you can closely bond with…once you’re placed into the House, it’s easy for you to find someone you have a common interest with. And if you have a person, a confidant, just a great person you can get close to overall, there’s nothing better you can ask for.” 
For me, entering the Crescent as a part of the McClellan House added to the richness of my newfound discoveries on community and bonding. Spending all my time with the same people helped fortify my friendships through our shared experiences. Although every House has a special aura of its own, I realized that what makes a House a community and a group of people a home isn’t the physical space that you’re in, but rather the respect and tolerance given to one another, as well as the willingness to connect with different people. 
For Sharma, House pride and fun comes from a bond that often takes a long time to form. This year, “everyone in the House is genuinely caring for each other, and that makes it a special place.” 
Similarly, Huh emphasized that “a House is definitely about the people…at the end of the day, it’s really what the kids in the House make of it: the energy, the passion, it all depends on the kids. And what we do, if done in the right way, will shape the future of our House in a much more positive way.”
Now, two summers since my first day on campus, I can confidently say that I’ve found my community at the School: on the stage with Periwig, in the office of The Lawrence, among my fellow appreciators of poetry, in McClellan, at the Ropes Course. For me, Lawrenceville’s key values of House and Harkness are less about my location or the space around me. Instead, community is within the people and the memories we make together, it’s in the times when I can look back to and feel most at home. 

Michal Tuczapski ’25
because you’re placed into a house in the first place. Obviously, it makes the adjustment period much easier for a new person, but they’re also in the long term, you’re not going to be able to spend as much time with people. the possibility of you spending time with people who click with you, I think diminishes with the house system. But other than that, I think house systems are perfectly time. I love house culture, each house having a specific house culture. Each house having a distinct image and kids working hard to improve their image or change their image. I think it’s a step toward going to college and it helps you adapt easily.

But now, we have pods, we have house lunch, we have advisee lunch, we have meetings in the Bunn library without our masks on. At the end of the day, it’s interhuman interactions that make us better. And being able to do that, it really brings a smile to my face.”

When I came to Lawrenceville, I envisioned that my experience would look exactly like being at 
Looking back on my II Form year, I definitely 
Now as I sit here at Lawrenceville writing about my first and only boarding experience, 
Talk about cty
Coming to Lawrenceville during covid…have i truly experienced what house is…

House Culture and House Olympics (700-900)
What house is the best house? Over the years, the famed “house to be in” changes with each ebb and flow of new sophomores. Ask anyone in the Crescent or Circle and they’ll give you a detailed breakdown of each house’s reputation, demographic, and duty team. Conduct in depth interviews with current house members, past house members, and freshmen to “check the vibe on the street.” Get deep into house culture- how close their house is, any traditions they may have, relationships between sophomores and juniors. Let us know if you need any help with deep dive questions! 

Interview Questions: the plan is to interview at least one person from the majority of every house in the crescent and circle and ask the questions below

  • What’s the current house to be in? Why?
    • What’s the current house to be in that’s not your own?
  • What house are you in and what’s your favorite house tradition?

For IV Formers:
  • How has your house’s dynamic changed this year? 
  • What’s the relationship between sophomores and juniors like?
  • Favorite part about being in your house?

For V Formers:
  • What was living in the House like during COVID? How did that change the following year?
  • Favorite part about being in your house?
  • Difference between Upper and the circle/crescent houses?
  • Hot takes on the other houses?
  • How has house culture changed throughout your four years here, whether your own house or other houses? 

For III Formers:
  • What’s it like living in a circle/crescent house vs. living in Lower? 
    • Is anything better? 
    • Are there any drawbacks?
  • Favorite part about being in your house so far?

For II Formers (maybe):
  • What’s your preferred crescent/circle house so far? Why?
  • How did that house make an impact on you? Maybe during house olympics or you already knew at the beginning of the year.