Our boarders share their views on the St Mary's boarding experience.
Hi, my name is Fatima and I am the current Head Boarder of St Mary's School, Cambridge. I live in Abuja, Nigeria, but I am originally from Kaduna, Nigeria.
I've been at St Mary's for the last four years and it's been a rollercoaster ride. Whilst being here I've been exposed to so many opportunities, achieved so much, made incredible memories and built strong relationships with the girls here.
I am currently taking Art, Mathematics and Physics at A Level in the hopes to study Architecture at university! So far being Head Boarder has not only given me the opportunity to connect more with the girls, but it's helped me build my leadership skills and my ability to cope under pressure.
Having spent such a long time here, I'm excited for the prospects of the future but I'm trying to enjoy all the moments I have in St Mary's before I leave. Although this is my last year, we as St Mary's girls will always know that: 'once a St Mary's girl, always a St Mary's girl.'
"Whilst being here I've been exposed to so many opportunities, achieved so much, made incredible memories and built strong relationships with the girls here."
My name is Trinity and I'm in Year 5. I am a full boarder from Malaysia. I joined St Mary's in September 2017 and it is great here.
I am in Orange Dorm and it's nice there as everyone is friendly. In our dorm we have Year 5 and Year 6 girls. We have six beds and six sinks and I love it! We go on trips at the weekend and they are really fun.
I have been to: Fitzwilliam Museum, Grantchester and Harry Potter World. We also do activities in the house at the weekend such as: making Chinese dumplings, Easter Egg Hunt in the garden, watching movies, crafts and watching the Eurovision Song Contest (we got to stay up late!). One of my favourite activities was visiting the elderly people who live next door to talk to them and sing Christmas carols with them.
The food at Mary Ward House is delicious. The chef cooks different food for us to eat each week. I like the older boarders because they care about me so much and spend time with us younger girls. The staff are so nice and I think we should appreciate them!
"What I like most about boarding at St Mary's, Cambridge is: the older girls, staff, food and activities."
It has been a great honour to be Head Boarder here at St Mary’s. I am grateful to have had so much support from the staff, the students and my team of boarding prefects. Having been a boarder at St Mary’s for five years, I have greatly valued this experience, especially when there are so many exciting changes each year.
Every year, there are new and interesting cultural activities that the boarders can get involved with. This year, we went to Oxford for our boarders’ residential weekend trip. We were introduced to the different architectural styles of the colleges and other buildings through a guided tour. We also visited Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born, and admired the beautiful gardens and landscapes.
This term, the sport Eton Fives was introduced to the boarding community. Some of our boarders in the Junior School had a taste of how this traditional English game works, and have enjoyed their afterschool sessions at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre. The Royal Wedding also gave us a unique chance to have a fancy brunch at Mary Ward House! In celebration of the wedding, our dining hall was decorated with flowers and banners, the tables were covered with white tablecloths, and scones were served on tiered cake stands. The Eurovision Song Contest was also celebrated, with the lower year groups embracing diversity by making and trying a variety of national foods to be enjoyed as they watched this year’s show, cheering for different countries. Boarding broadens our horizons by providing us with opportunities to appreciate others’ cultures and try out new activities.
"Boarding broadens our horizons by providing us with opportunities to appreciate others’ cultures and try out new activities."
The annual fundraising Boarders’ Concert was one of the highlights of the year. This year we raised over £300 for an initiative called ‘School Cycle’ by Girl Up, which aims to provide girls in Malawi with bicycles so they can travel to school quickly and safely, and obtain the education the need to create a better future for themselves and their families. Every year, boarders from across the world contribute and share their outstanding talents with the school community. This year, we had a wide variety of performances, among them, instrumentalists, girls singing in their native language, and others doing Kpop dancing, and traditional Nigerian, Spanish and Chinese dances. It was a very fruitful and meaningful experience that I am proud to have been part of organising with my boarding prefect team.
"Every year, boarders from across the world contribute and share their outstanding talents with the school community."
It has been a great privilege working with two Heads of Boarding during my time as Head Boarder: Mrs Compain-Holt, who left St Mary’s for China last December, and Miss Elliott, our current Head of Boarding. With the guidance, care and support of both, our challenging and unforgettable year as boarding prefects has gone very smoothly. We have learnt a lot from them, from leadership skills to being compassionate to others, and last but not least, the importance of believing in ourselves.
"We have learnt a lot from them, from leadership skills to being compassionate to others, and last but not least, the importance of believing in ourselves."
The time has come for us to depart St Mary’s School and to hand over our responsibilities as boarding prefects to our Lower Sixth successors. I wish the newly elected Head Boarder, Fatima Y., and her team of boarding prefects every success in the coming year. They are undoubtedly looking forward to putting their own stamp on their new roles, but whatever they do, I would like to offer them this advice:
“Do not give up when you feel overwhelmed by the challenges that confront you. Instead, rely on and support one another to make things work so that your vision becomes reality.”
More about boarding at St Mary's School
My name is Ava. I'm 14, in Year 9 and from China. I'm a boarder at St Mary's and have lots of fun in the boarding house.
We have activities after school but we have plenty of free time to play with our room mates too. At the weekend there are many interesting trips, for example I've been swimming, on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, chocolate making and to Cambridge Escape Rooms.
I have made friends with day girls and we are allowed to invite them to Mary Ward House to have fun with us so it's just like at home. We watch TV, cook, chat and do homework together. In fact, on my birthday my day girl friends came over and celebrated with me. One of my friends made a huge rainbow cake and we had lots of fun. I think it was the best birthday ever!
Hello, my name is Irene. I come from Spain and I board here at St. Mary's School and am in Year 8.
I decided to come here because my sister recommended this school to me. My sister came to St. Mary's 3 years ago and stayed for a year, just like I am doing, and she loved the school. She never boarded but encouraged me to do it and here I am.
I must say I agree with my sister that this is a great school. This school has been spectacular just like the people in it, they are all supportive and kind and I've make great friends. I learned so much in this school, started a new language, Latin, which I love, found my love for biology and many more subjects.
This school has left me with many wonderful memories that I am going to cherish my whole life and it is all thanks to St. Mary's School.
More about boarding at Mary Ward House
I'm Solene from France. I have stayed at St.Mary's School twice as a short-term boarder. The first time was in 2017 for one month and the second time in 2018 for two months. I really enjoyed the first time so that is why I came back a second time!
The boarding house (Mary Ward House) is very cool, there are a lot of activities that you can do at weekends and during the week. The staff are very nice and always there to help you. There is a lot of different girls, of different ages and from different countries. I met, each time, lots of nice girls and I am still in touch with them.
The food at the boarding house is very good and there are a lot of different meals. Each experience is different and each time you learn so much and you enjoy so much. Being a boarder is really good as you are in the same bedroom as your friends so it is really funny and it is great to meet each times so many different girls.
This experience is unforgettable and you keep so many good memories.