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Jun 6, 2019

by Becca Masson

What is a community? For me, it means family. An adopted family. A family not bound by blood but by a mutual care and support for each other. It is a special bond, unlike any other, and if you are lucky enough to experience it, even for a moment, you treasure the memories forever.

In the weeks that I have been here, St. Stephen’s School has certainly reaffirmed my idea of community. This year, we have forty-seven boarders in total. A large number for a small school like St. Stephen’s, but Katherine Young and Mike Mottola, with the help of this year’s prefects, have organized a colorful program with a range of activities for new and returning boarders alike to ensure the sense of community is kept alive each year.

Our recent weekend trip to Sperlonga illustrates this perfectly. As soon as the bell rang for end of school on Friday 11th Sep- tember, all boarding faculty and students piled onto a coach that would take us on our first adventure together. Prior to the trip, I was told that Sperlonga is where true friendships be- tween students really start to form; now I understand why. Our post-dinner entertainment was a talent show on the beach host- ed by our very own twins, Pierpaolo and Greta Micelli. Many students volunteered to sing, dance and recite poetry, alone and in teams, all of which culminated in a spontaneous group dance to a Mariah Carey classic under the stars. I watched as some students drifted from the group for a break, but were imme- diately drawn back in by the other boarders. It was a definite highlight of the weekend when we paused to listen, think, reflect, support and praise those who performed around us. The talent show created a real sense of belonging

Saturday morning was spent at Emperor Tiberius’ cave and the archaeological museum, which got me thinking about how the ancient Roman upper class would often escape the bustle of the Eternal City and swap it for a weekend at their country villa.

St. Stephen’s boarders were not so different as we left Rome be- hind for sand and sea. Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing in the sun: swimming, sunbathing, playing volleyball, and taking photos. Groups of students walked around the old, Medieval hill town of Sperlonga Vecchia – shopping and gelato, a must.

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This weekend was a time for boarders, new and old, and staff to unwind, clear our heads from work and do something we rarely find time to do: focus on those around us. We dined together, we laughed together and we played music together. Sperlonga united us without any distractions and this could only strengthen our community.

However, these activities are not unique to Sperlonga. Every weekend, boarding faculty and prefects organize fun events, which are open to all boarding students. As well as weekly activities, there are boarding trips to locations all over Italy: Venice, Milan, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast, to name a few. But, perhaps most important, every Wednesday is known as ‘Community Night’ at St. Stephen’s. It is a time for students and staff to have dinner and chat about their week, and also the weekend ahead. What I think is most special about Com- munity Night is that it is an opportunity for all members of our boarding family to stand up and voice their appreciation and give thanks to those who have done something kind – no matter how big or small the gesture.

Although it’s not quite Wednesday evening yet, I would like to thank St Stephen’s for welcoming me into their community – their family!