Keep Your Friends Close and Your Housemates Closer

Nathan Luo ’25 in Opinions | September 23, 2022

To the boys of the Raymond House:
Navigating the vast campus, adapting to Harkness-based learning, and abiding by rules that you’ve never followed in your life before (including, but not limited to, lights out and cleaning your room ahead of room checks) are all aspects of Lawrenceville life that everyone must adjust to in their first few weeks . So, all seemed well as I, having mastered all of these skills, confidently strolled into my III Form year. While it seemed that I had a solid grasp on life at Lawrenceville, there still lay a pit of emptiness within me. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint the missing piece of my III Form year. Soon enough, though, I realized that my new life in the Circle limited my interactions with many of the precious friends I had made last year. 
This year, I did not return to a large House with 80 other II Formers, but instead entered the doors of the Griswold House alongside familiar and new faces among the other 40 Grisraelis. Not only did the adjective “new” entail new students, but a completely new duty team as well. Within a few days, the sting of separation from my former friends and faculty of the Raymond House began to prick me, and I longed for just one more day in the II Form. I missed walking into the common room after a long day and hearing the Super Smash Bros video game music on the TV. I missed how Mr. Daniell used to make us answer the most arbitrary trivia questions in order to check in. I missed skateboarding throughout the smoothly polished parking lot behind the House with my friends. Overall, I missed the collectiveness of II Form housing that bonded us together during those 180 days of school. 
One unfortunate feature of III Form year that I have noticed is how taxing socializing  with my old friends is. In Raymond, if I had to ask a fellow classmate a question about homework or relax in their room after a strenuous week's worth of school, I could just amble my way to their room and knock on the door. Conversely, in Griswold, I have no option but to message my friends and set up a time and a rendezvous point. Come the first few weeks of school, I came to realize not only how tedious this socialization technique was, but how it could weaken my friendships. When my Raymond friends knocked on my door, their tone of voice would let me know how they were feeling and thus help me figure out how we should spend our time together. Yet with their text responses, I struggled to identify their tone; I would meet with them in-person and find, rather awkwardly, that we had different expectations for our conversations. Being away from Raymond forced my relationships to become more “virtualized”—a familiar phenomenon that we can all relate to from our socially distanced days. Just like during the height of the pandemic, I felt my ability to connect with my old friends falter. 
But despite my yearning for the days of effortless interactions with friends in one, cohesive II Form House, I began to forge new relationships with my fellow Grisraelis. While the collection of II Form boys in Raymond ensured that I would interact briefly with practically everyone I came across, the smaller group within Griswold House enabled me to get to know everybody on a deeper level. Within the first two weeks of school, I’ve discovered some astonishing facts. For one, my advisor, Mr. Jordan, used to live in a Buddhist temple; on the other hand, our House President, Reid Farrington ’24, is a stellar phone-pong player (a champion in playing ping-pong with phones instead of paddles). I was also shocked to see our Houses cheering  each other on during House Olympics as if they had all been friends for years, even though the reality was that most of them had met only days before. This mighty House spirit possessed by each Circle and Crescent House is both a discernible aspect of post-II Form life and a means to deepen your bonds with each and every Housemate. The House system gives a diverse set of Lawrentians the commonality of being in the same House; the pride that you and your Housemates invest in that House unites you. There’s really no better way to instantly grow closer to a group of people you may never have talked to otherwise than the House. Besides, the system fosters a healthy dose of competition between the Houses—a great way to nourish our House pride and bring us even closer together. . 
So, to the Class of 2026: do take the time to truly appreciate being in a House with your fellow II Form and the extraordinarily unique duty team of the Lower Houses. Yes, as you rise to become Upperclassmen next year, your free time will unfortunately begin to dwindle. But given that inevitability, one of the priorities of II Form year should be to spend as much time as possible with your current friends. From personal experience, I’ve discovered that having shared interests is one of the most effective ways to spend quality time with others. Whether you compete together in a sport or join one of the wide variety of clubs Lawrenceville has to offer, having a common interest while spending time together will bring you even closer. For example, my friend and I took part in II Form Shakespeare. Though I can’t say that I was a natural actor, I thoroughly enjoyed rehearsals simply due to the presence of my friend and the fact that we were able to act together. But I didn’t just bond more with my friend; I also even expanded my circle of acquaintances and friends by getting to know fellow actors. Branching out and finding friends through common interests is a great way to prepare for your two years in the House. After all, you’ll be doing a lot of bonding over a shared membership the moment you step foot into the Circle or Crescent. 
So here’s my final piece of advice. While your II Form year gives you the great luxury of interacting with many people all at once, you will find that profound relationships fueled by Circle House spirit are irreplaceable in your own way. Do hold onto the friendships that you form II Form year—to the best of your ability—but don’t be afraid to forge new ones in your new House.