Yes, I went to boarding school. And yes, I'm super annoying about it and reminisce on my high school glory days all the time. Sorry, I can't help it!

Weirdly enough, some of my best and strangest memories from said "glory days" happened in the dining hall. I'll let you in on some secrets about the cool, interesting, and really weird stuff that goes on in boarding school dining halls.

Freshman Boy Syndrome

One of the funniest things to witness at the beginning of a new school year is how the school's newcomers struggle to feed themselves without their parents. When you think about it, freshmen at boarding school are 14-year-old kids who have been fed by their parents their whole lives.

This dilemma primarily plagues freshman boys, who you can find eating a well rounded meal of waffles, ice cream, steak, and french fries at 4:30 pm.

Breakfast = Runway

cake, beer
Morgan Pagliocco

Unlike college, everyone at boarding school went to the dining hall for breakfast...Before 8 am. Shocking, I know. There were several occasions where attending breakfast was especially critical, with one of them being spirit week. As a dedicated spirit week participant, I always made sure to show off my clever costumes (like a yoga mom) in the dining hall with my roommate.

Toaster Violations

The site of the most turmoil in the dining hall was, surprisingly, the conveyor belt toaster. People who were too impatient to wait in line to use the panini press would put their sandwiches in the toaster, causing a cheesy mess and the occasional fire.

Creative students used the toaster to warm up cookies, which was strictly forbidden after one too many cleanups of melted cheese and chocolate chips. If you could escape the glare of a dining hall employee for a mere minute, many toasted cookies on top of a piece of bread—how's that for clever?

Parents' Weekend


Groton School on Flickr

Everyone at boarding school knew exactly when the dining hall would have the best food: Parents' Weekend. The school went above and beyond to ensure our parents were impressed, and made food they wouldn't dare serve us on a normal school day.

Our parents would "ooh" and "ahh" at the plethora of food, while we took full advantage of the rare bread rolls, Caesar salads, and the occasional full-on ice cream truck—all staples of Parents' Weekend.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bar

The one constant in the dining hall was the shabby peanut butter and jelly bar hidden in the darkest corner of the room. This safe haven always housed a jumbo-sized jar of Skippy, some stale wheat bread, and a mystery flavor of jelly.

Some people stuck to this elementary school-style meal every day, while others only utilized it when the dining hall experimented with international foods or mystery meat.



Groton School on Flickr

Anyone who went to boarding school experienced sit-down dinners, and most likely had a love-hate relationship with them. On the love side, getting dressed up for these more formal, family-style dinners, provided a solid excuse for a photo shoot with my roommates.

The food was also way better, with the dining hall churning out some school favorites like the controversial "broc-chick," some questionable chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese that was nonetheless delicious.

Menu Madness

beer, bacon, coffee
Morgan Pagliocco

Nobody in college checks the dining hall menu. But in high school my friends and I would huddle over a single laptop on Sunday nights when the menu was sent out, intensely studying the week's offerings. We would then plan our week around the best food. Grilled cheese and tomato soup day was an all-time favorite, and we would devise a plan to get out of class early that day and beat the rush.

Fat Kid Friday

A photo posted by Morgan (@s_morg_asbord) on

I don't think the term "fat kid Friday" was school-approved for the all you can eat pasta and ice cream night that we had every Friday (yes, every Friday), but it was the perfect way to fuel up and indulge after a long week of sports practices and a load of homework equivalent to that of a college student.

Seating Hierarchy

A photo posted by Hadley Stack (@hadl3ystack) on

At my high school, there were very strict rules among students regarding where certain classes could sit. The coveted "Senior Section" was strictly off-limits to anyone besides seniors. In fact, rumor had it that trespassing into the sacred Senior Section meant, *gasp*, that you wouldn't graduate...Only a few were bold enough to test the theory.

A Touch of Hogwarts

A photo posted by @grotonschool on

When people hear I went to boarding school and that we had things like "prefects" and a dining hall, their minds automatically go to Harry Potter and the coolest boarding school of all time, Hogwarts.

While my dining hall didn't have plates of food that magically replenished themselves, and floating candle sticks, we did have several Harry Potter-related pranks, including a sign hung in the dining hall claiming that the "Chamber of Secrets has been opened." No magic here, but definitely some good old fashioned dining hall fun.

Weirdly enough, some of my best and strangest memories from said "glory days" happened in the dining hall. I'll let you in on some secrets about the cool, interesting, and really weird stuff that goes on in boarding school dining halls.