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Happy New (School) Year!

Jim Norman

The Canterbury family is together again! Classes kicked off on September 7 following a week filled with leadership training, orientation activities, and preseason athletics—and the campus is buzzing with energy. Our 108th school year is off and running!

New and returning Saints are ready and eager to learn, lead, serve, and make new memories. They hail from around the world, representing 19 countries and 20 U.S. states. Plus, in the true spirit of family, 20 of our students are children (and one is a grandchild!) of Canterbury alumni. And we were pleased to see that our yield rate for accepted students was the highest it has been in a decade.

The campus was plenty busy the week prior to student arrivals as well, as teachers were immersed in meetings and professional development exercises, and Head of School Rachel Stone P ’23, ’24 presented her annual welcome remarks to faculty and staff. Rachel expressed her deep appreciation to all who kept the campus productive and beautiful throughout the summer. She then led a discussion reflecting on the strength and success of Canterbury’s past and the aspirational ideas that will continue to move our great school forward. “We are in an extraordinary place to further solidify Canterbury’s position as the best small boarding school and to ensure its future sustainability,” she said. The address ended with the introductions of new faculty and staff to appreciative applause from their colleagues.

Student leaders—including the Sixth Form Council, Sacristans, Proctors, and Ambassadors—were the first to arrive back on campus on August 29, and they dove right into their two days of intensive training and retreat activities. Varsity athletes were next; they moved in on September 1 and wasted no time getting to practices and workouts that same afternoon, with first games and scrimmages right around the corner. International students were welcomed to the hilltop two days later, and all remaining students had arrived by September 5. “The energy on campus is amazing,” said Sixth Form Council Member Theodore Hauser ’23. “After a long summer away, it is good to be back in this great community, with so many new faces adding to the already fantastic culture set by the leaders and faculty.”

The next several days saw students gleefully reunited with old friends—and introduced to new ones—in a series of orientation events. Form Fun featured a variety of games, trivia, hot food, and even an ice cream truck! Orientation Adventures & Activities brought students together for interactive bonding experiences. Parents and guardians got in on the action as well, meeting faculty, staff, and each other at welcome receptions in the Steers Center on each of the student arrival days.

The first day of classes coincided with the year’s first School Meeting in Maguire Auditorium, where the spirit and excitement were palpable. Rachel welcomed everyone and shared why the campus gathers in this setting three times a week—to foster a strong sense of community, celebrate each other’s milestones and accomplishments, keep everyone up-to-date on what is happening both on and off the hilltop, and pause for prayer and reflection. Assistant Head of School for Student Life Peter LaVigne P ’14, ’16, ’17, ’20, ’23 then relayed information about the year ahead and introduced the Sixth Form Council 

Director of Community Life Elyse “EJ” Soifersmith was delighted to see everyone back on the hilltop. “Canterbury has the most beautiful campus but what really brings it alive is when the students return for school,” she said. “There is nothing like meeting the new students, starting the fall semester, and having everyone back in the classrooms and dorms. Our campus is now complete, and we are ready for an amazing school year!”

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