Towards the end of each school week, the Weekender, an infographic of student activities occurring over the upcoming weekend, is sent to every student’s email. Once eliciting excitement, complaints regarding the Weekender’s lackluster activities have mounted since the beginning of Spring Term.
Adaora Mbanefo ’24 expressed her dissatisfaction with the quantity and quality of the events offered. According to Mbanefo, however, boredom is not the only issue that comes with an uneventful Weekender. Not only does the lack of engaging events deprive students of a break from schoolwork, she believes it can also lead some to seek entertainment through substance use.
“I am really disappointed with the lack of activities and the lack of diversity within the activities. Because at a boarding school, we’re here all the time and we need something to entertain us. But when there’s nothing to do, we very much have to be immersed in our work, and not having that ability to take a break from [work]. I feel like it’s a little bit harrowing… Our substance abuse problem, a lot of that I feel like is fueled by the lack of anything else to do. People are like, ‘Well, if there’s no fun for me, I’ll make my own fun,’” said Mbanefo.
Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities, communicates regularly with students on campus about ideas for future Weekender events, including student leaders such as Blue Key Heads. Capano also contacts the Student Activities Directories of other schools in the area to exchange ideas. The Student Activities (STACT) board is another source of inspiration; however, Capano noted STACT’s recent inactivity.
“We’re trying to get the STACT board back, with Covid-19 it kind of petered out… The STACT board has been kind of on hiatus recently, they’ve been too busy with their own stuff, so it’s mostly been me and [Stephanie Cormier, Student Program Coordinator] putting [the Weekender] together. But generally, we try to meet with them early in the week [and] ask for ideas. Sometimes we [go through] a catalog of all the events we’ve done in the past,” said Capano.
Sharing Mbanefo’s disappointment, Alex Giarnese ’25 conveyed the need for more engaging and interactive activities. He indicated a particular interest in dances.
“Recently, I have thought that the Weekender has been a little empty… There’s been a few things here and there, like there’s a trivia night tonight and a Just Dance Party, but there’s been nothing super engaging for teenagers. In the past few weeks, I haven’t been to any Weekender events… I think a lot of the dances are super engaging like the Latin Arts Dance and the Black Arts Dance… Things that we can participate in, have fun, [and] actually engage and interact with,” said Giarnese.
While Michelle Yao ’23 understands the challenges and constraints the Weekender team contends with, she agreed that the Weekender’s recent offerings have been less interesting. She proposed that they re-evaluate past events and take advantage of the seasonal conditions.
“I want to give [the Weekender] the benefit of the doubt right now and say that there are less [events] because it’s the beginning of the term… I understand, there’s definitely budget constraints to everything…but try to interact more with the student body and reassess what has worked in the past and what people want right now. Because I think there’s lots of things to do [in] Spring Term, especially with spring having nicer weather. If we play off these aspects, I think [these events] will be a lot more effective,” said Yao.
Emphasizing the importance of student feedback in improving the Weekender, Capano encourages students to reach out to him with ideas and suggestions. In doing so, he strives to fulfill the Weekender’s goal of providing the student body with relaxation and fun.
“We know that y’all are super busy and you work really hard in class and in sports and a million other things you do on campus, so we’re just trying to find some fun things to do on the weekend, give you a break, have some fun, and put a smile on your face,” said Capano.
Capano continued, “I think we can always be better, absolutely… I don’t take it personally, but if you don’t tell me [what isn’t working], I don’t know… Part of my job is knowing that I am not a teenager…so I’d love to hear from people about what they think is fun, and we’ll do our best. So right in [Paresky] Commons, every day at lunch, just stop by, knock on the door, the door is always open, and throw an idea at me. You don’t have to stay for an hour, you can stay for ten seconds. And we’ll look into it.”