For boarders, choosing a new school as their home can be a daunting decision. It can be so hard to put your trust in a completely new place where you will not only live, but learn, have fun, play sport, perform music, and form relationships with new people. So why did these three boarders, Eli Wrigley (Year 9, St John’s) from Whangamata, Alice Long (Year 12 Middlemore) from Gisborne and Scott Illerbrun (Year 12, School) from Whangarei choose King’s College in Auckland as their new home? We asked these boarders three essential questions that are fundamental in understanding the life of a boarder at King’s and why they chose King’s.
Why board, and why King’s?
The decision made by many students from around New Zealand to board is one with many complicated and highly personalised factors, as it is a decision that will change their way of life, not just geographically, but socially too. However, there are several common factors we can see among Eli, Alice, and Scott that were important in their decision to board at King’s.
Eli Wrigley wanted a new lifestyle, and King’s was the ideal choice due to his family connections.
Eli reflected “My Poppa Malcom Wrigley (Past Parent) coached the first 11 girls’ hockey team for a while, and my Aunty Veronica Wrigley (Middlemore, 2002) came here [King’s College] and was in Middlemore House,” Eli says. Eli had been offered a place at Auckland Grammar, Hamilton Boys, and King’s College but it was due to his connections to the school that his family decided that King’s was the best option.
For Alice it was the deep and rich culture at King’s that attracted her. “At my old school I was the only kid in my year group who did acting, and it made me feel really alone. As soon as I moved to King’s I was welcomed to the cultural community and I have never felt more welcomed by people in my life,” Alice explained. “Idecided to move to King’s as my last school was all girls and very small and I prefer bigger co-ed schools as there are more opportunities available in all fields”
And for Scott, he wanted a school that held itself to a higher calibre than his last school, which was “alot less strict with standards and rules compared to King’s.” Scott was also looking for a school that had more “resources and facilities for its students” so that he would have access to the opportunities that would allow him to become successful both in sports and academics.
Settling into Boarding at King’s
Boarding can often feel a bit isolating as it is a different experience to those of day students who often have their family only a short drive away and maybe a few friends at King’s who they know from their old school. For boarders it means incorporating into a new culture, creating connections with new people, and joining new groups with coaches and leaders. For Scott Illerbrun, moving from Whangarei, he found boarding difficult initially as he “didn’t know anyone”. On top of this, the transition from intermediate to high school was challenging as he went from a smaller nurturing environment to King’s, a stricter school with huge buildings and facilities. For Eli Wrigley, who moved from Pukekohe Intermediate, he found sticking to a new schedule with all these newly coded classrooms - LO4, B13, H14, L11, Ar11 - really tricky. And for Alice moving from Gisborne to a co-ed school, it felt like a whole new world. Yet for these boarders, these large brick buildings that were a little intimidating on their first day, soon became their home.
“Within the first three hours of moving into boarding I was invited to join Glee as a featured dancer and was immediately welcomed with open arms from a group of Year 11 and 12’s”, said Alice.
While for Eli, it was being able to rely on his fellow boarders that got him through the first few weeks at King's which included the initial challenges that come with settling into a new environment and soon he found it to be “quite homely” and a welcome space where “everyone has a good time and you can joke around, and it’s generally a good space to be in”.
For Scott, it was the ability to get involved that hooked him. He joined the 1st XI hockey in Year 9 and was thrilled by his team environment and the ability to work with some incredible coaches. Doing these activities made him feel part of the King’s team, filling him with a sense of pride to fill the shoes of previous King’s players like the ‘Childs’ and ‘Panchias’ who had played before him.
Favourite part of our new home
King’s is an amazing place, but for the students who live on site, there are different reasons why King’s is so special to them.
For Alice, what she has discovered during her King’s experience so far is that it’s “a community that supports you all the way whether it be in academics, culture or sport, that is there to keep you on track, and is there to push you if you aren’t pushing yourself.”
While Scott loves “the rich tradition of sport and house activities”. He finds that it is this tradition that “makes playing for the college or house so special as you are competing knowing that history and legacy has been left behind from greater players and people”. It makes Scott feel as though he is part of something bigger and it gives him the aspiration to pave the way for his own legacy at King’s College. He’s done this by being a member of the winning teams for in both the Rankin Cup with the 1st XI Hockey and the Gillette Cup with 1st XI Cricket.
And for Eli what makes King’s special is ”the people”. Eli adds that “you can have fancy grounds and a good academics program, but without the people a school is just grounds and buildings - the people add the value”. Eli credits his love of his favourite subject - Social Studies, to his lovely teacher, Mrs Kearins, and for him as a boarder at St John’s, it is the boys around him that make the environment feel so homely.
While boarding is a completely new experience for many, and can be overwhelming to start with, it soon becomes an experience that brings students together not only as a House, whether it be School, St John’s, Parnell, Selwyn or Middlemore, but as a boarding family who work to succeed as a collective.
For Eli, Alice, and Scott, it is the people that have become their foundation, lifting each other up, leaning on each other, and relying on each other for collective success culturally, academically, spiritually, and on the sports field.
As the famous Māori proverb states, 'ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini', ‘my strength is not as an individual, but as a collective’ - a theme that is woven into the culture of boarding at King’s College. And with that, we can be sure that boarders at King’s are proud to say “King’s is my home”.