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Sep 25, 2019

by Natalie Edwards '14

If you ask a St. Stephen’s boarder to tell you about their favorite day of the week, you may be surprised when you hear the answer: Wednesday.

Every Wednesday night, all boarders and boarding faculty come together for Community Night, a special dinnertime gathering led by our student prefects. Towards the end of the meal, our five prefects deliver the week’s community message. In the past, these messages have covered topics such as transitions, time management, self-care, stress, and more. The message is designed by the prefects themselves with the help of Ms. Esposito, the Residential Life Coordinator.

Afterward, the weekend duty team is invited up to the front of the room to announce the activities that will be offered in boarding that weekend. Then, the prefects present the ‘Serious Awards’, which are basically shout-outs to two boarders who they feel are worthy of special appreciation for their seriously silly attitude, their serious love of the Roma soccer team or even their serious love of cereal. The recipients of the award are given a hug, a bar of chocolate, and a round of applause.

Next, the prefects open the floor to the rest of the community to offer ‘thank yous’. Thank yous are an opportunity to thank a roommate for waking you up for your 8:30 am class or to thank a boarding faculty member for helping you edit a college essay. Students often thank each other simply for being supportive, offering good advice, or even just sharing shampoo.

Community Night ends with a trip to our favorite neighborhood gelateria. Once a month, instead of going for gelato, we conclude the evening with a celebration of that month’s birthdays. On the chosen Wednesday, we honor each student who has had (or will have) a birthday that month with cards handmade and signed by all boarders. We also enjoy a multi-tier birthday cake baked and decorated by a local cake decorator. Our birthday group picks the flavor and theme of the cake ahead of time. Past cake themes have included a soccer-themed birthday cake for two soccer players, a whimsical emoji-themed cake, a winter sports-themed cake in January, and a fun, floral cake last May.

Whether you’re having a great week or feeling stressed because of upcoming exams or papers, Community Night offers us the chance to be together in the same space, to reflect on the week, and to recognize the hallmates and teachers who have helped make our week just a little bit better, reminding us of the kindness and care that characterize our boarding community.

A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Natalie Edwards double majored in Art History and Archaeology and Economics. Natalie attended St. Stephen's as a boarder in 11th grade, and later returned to Bologna for a semester abroad during university. Natalie is fluent in Italian and is currently a Residential Assistant in the St. Stephen's Boarding Department and a Communications Office Assistant.