Living, learning and playing on a boarding school campus means you enjoy the benefits of a close-knit community, replete with adults who know and care about you, friends who offer homework help, snacks and entertainment, and a culture rich with campus traditions.
When you become a Westminster student, you earn the notable distinction of forever being a Martlet. This remarkable mascot captures the grit and grace that Westminster students strive to embody. Since this mythical bird has no feet, its only choice is to demonstrate its “grit and grace” by continuing to fly –despite obstacles, exhaustion or even a fierce headwind. As a small school with a powerful athletics program, Westminster’s martlets highlight their grit by persevering, overcoming the odds and working tirelessly to improve, all while showcasing the grace of sportsmanship and camaraderie. This unique mascot reminds students that even a footless bird can defeat a bearcat, a winged beaver and a rhino when martlets fly together.
The Sign-In Ceremony welcomes new students into the Westminster community. During the first week of school, new students line up and enter the Chapel where they sign their name in a large book holding the names of countless Westminster students. After they symbolically enter the history of Westminster, they shake the hand of our Headmaster, Bill Philip, the final moment that signifies their status as a full-fledged Westminster student.
Occurring on the Sixth Form lawn, the Pin Ceremony makes tangible the excitement and nostalgia that permeates a student’s Sixth Form year. The Sixth Form Dean, as well as faculty members who are alumni of the school, distribute pins to the boys and necklaces to the girls that showcase a one-of-a-kind image, specially designed by members of the form. This same image appears on the Sixth Form flag, used to announce Hill Holidays during the course of the year.
The Lawn Ceremony symbolically represents the rising of the Fifth Form into the Sixth Form. Taking place adjacent to the Sixth Form lawn, the Lawn Ceremony involves Sixth Form students on the eve of their Commencement pulling, carrying, even spinning their Fifth Form friends onto the Lawn and into big bear hugs of congratulations. As the Sixth Form commemorates the end of their time as current Westminster students, the Fifth Form symbolically steps into the role of leaders on campus. Additionally, the Lawn Ceremony marks a significant moment for the entire school community because the last Fifth Formers standing on the outside of the Sixth Form lawn will be the School Prefects for the following school year. The final two students outside the lawn are the Junior Prefect, Sixth Form President, and Head Prefect, President of the School. Not surprisingly, many students remark that the Lawn Ceremony is the most memorable moment of their Westminster careers.
Perhaps Westminster’s most beloved tradition, Hill Holidays mean cheering, extra sleep, fun activities, and, most notably, no school for one day. Occurring four times per year, Hill Holidays are usually revealed at Assembly when the whole school gathers to hear announcements. The announcement, however, is anything but ordinary. In the past Head Prefects have announced Hill Holidays by running through the halls with the Sixth Form flag; a student might pretend to ask another student to formal only to pull the Sixth Form flag out of a box; or, students might make a short video and distribute it to the student body. No matter the way a Hill Holiday is announced, the rest of the day is full of visibly excited, smiling students.
One of the core elements of life at Westminster are family-style lunches in Armstrong Dining Hall that are intended to strengthen community. They are held four days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Family-style lunch provides an opportunity for students and faculty to get to know one another better and to engage in meaningful conversations with people they may not already know. Students are assigned to a table hosted by a faculty member on one-week rotations. One student serves as the waiter for his or her table for that week, bringing the hot entrée to the table. Students may also select from other food items in the servery. Whether they answer trivia questions or talk about their day, students quickly discover that each faculty table has its own unique identity.
This fiercely competitive spring evening sport pits corridors and day students against each other as they strive to hold the Stickball Trophy –and bragging rights– at the end of May. Characterized by witty game reports, team t-shirts and many funny moments when even Westminster’s most talented athletes strike out, Stickball is a throwback to the games of childhood where the players decide who’s safe and who’s out and everyone finds camaraderie as part of a team.
At a school that encourages and inspires student involvement, students will discover and savor a variety of traditions –too many to describe! Here are some favorites:
- Dorm Olympics
- Surprise Post-9 p.m. Ice Cream Feeds
- Intra-dorm Dodgeball
- Day of Kindness
- Duds Days (dress-down days)