Schools with seated meals and chapel/assemblies

We are researching schools for our oldest son. I attended SPS and loved that we had daily mandatory chapel and occasional seated meals. These schoolwide activities helped build a close-knit community. My son has narrowed down his list to St. Paul’s, Deerfield, Hotchkiss, Andover, Exeter, Groton, Peddie, St. Andrew’s, and Mercersburg. We have researched these schools and found some information on chapel and/or seated meals. However, several of the schools’ websites are vague regarding schoolwide activites. Which of these schools offer seated meals and/or daily assemblies/chapel? What do these activities look like at each school (frequency, organization, etc.)? Thank you for any information that you can provide!

My children attend Mercersburg. They have family style lunch with assigned seating M-F. They have formal dinner on Monday nights and seated dinners Wednesday and Thursday night. All other meals are buffet. This winter I think they had a little more flexibility on The non-formal dinner nights.

They usually have a school meeting in the chapel or the theatre on Fridays and sometimes Monday evenings for speakers.

We have had a great experience so far! Please let me know if you have any questions. It’s a wonderful school community!

Peddie has a family style formal dinner with assigned seating on Monday nights. Schoolwide chapel (with assigned seats - seniors in the front) is twice a week and usually opens with a student performance. The performance is usually followed by a speaker - could be from outside the school, a member of faculty, a student, an alumnus… I am not sure what happens in closing. Maybe announcements? I personally have only been to the (amazong!) chapels that relate to Blair Week (a long standing sports rivalry.) I think there is also another once-a-week meeting that is sometimes each grade individually meeting and sometimes all school. On a smaller level, the dorms have dorm bonding nights and smaller still, the advisory groups have monthly (?) dinners and activities together. We have found the sense of community to be very strong!

Hotchkiss’ dining hall cannot accommodate the entire community in one sitting so there aren’t weekly dinners as there are at some schools. However there are regular community dinners with, say, 9th and 10th graders one time and 11th and 12th another night. Expanding the dining hall is in their master plan, but I don’t know how soon that would happen.

There are weekly? Twice a week? Chapel talks.

Two of my kids went/go to Hotchkiss. I do think there’s a very welcoming, diverse, close and friendly/supportive community there. And probably at the other schools too!

St Mark’s has chapel services and seated meals a few times per week. Some seated meals are lunches and some are dinners. Chapel services vary and some are evening chapel which is associated with a seated dinner.

Deerfield has no chapel. The school has seated meals @ 5 times per week - sometimes lunch and sometimes dinner. You rotate tables about every month or 5 weeks. Each table has at least one faculty member - a table head. There are students from different grades at your table. Really great way to meet kids from different grades, different backgrounds, different countries. Students also take turns being 1st or 2nd waiter. There are also advisory lunches on a regular basis. So you have lunch with your advisor. I think the seated meals are really great - less cliques at lunch or dinner that way. It’s a good way to integrate students with each other and with different grad years. There are several traditions @ Seated meals at Deerfield. One is singing Evensong together on Sunday night dinner. Holiday dinner is really great - beef Wellington and baked Alaska. There is a weekly all-school meeting with usually a guest speaker or something planned, in addition to announcements.

Groton has chapel 4 times per week and a mandatory religious engagement once a week. They also have seated meals with assigned tables every other week.

Concord has a tradition of chapel or assembly every morning. Seniors are invited to give a talk to the entire school in the Chapel if they choose in the mornings which is usually 3 or 4 times a week and announcements on the other days.

No seated formal dinners at CA though. Just some formal dinners before breaks for boarders.

You didn’t ask about Thacher, but I’ll fill in the blanks in case others are interested.

Schoolwide activities to help bond the community include:

  • 4 Formal meals each week with assigned seating and faculty at each table.
  • 2 Assemblies each week
  • 2 Two “CREW” slots each week (Community, Reflection, Engagement & W?) which is scheduled time for advisory meetings, workshops, discussions, and other programming.
  • 3 School-wide camping trips each year (Full week trips in Fall and Spring. Winter weekend camping trip.)
  • 1 Senior X weekend - Feels like a mini-conference over the weekend with each senior giving a 30 minute talk on a topic they’ve researched all year.
  • Weekly dorm meetings plus additional evening programming to discuss health and wellness topics, including social/emotional.