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Cayman Parent | Articles | Community | Cayman Spotlight | Boarding School Students Q & A

Cayman Spotlight | Boarding School Students Q & A

Meet three savvy Caymanian students who attend various boarding schools worldwide. They’ve successfully navigated everything from moving in, making friends, juggling the course load, extra-curricular activities and yes, even homesickness. Cayman Parent caught up with these inspirational teens to talk about everything they’ve learned about going to boarding school.


Taylor Kirkaldy

Trinity College School, Canada

Taylor attended Cayman Prep & High School through Year 9 and started at Trinity College School at age 14, in Grade 9. Taylor is a Master Key Ambassador for TCS and is on the varsity teams for field hockey, swimming and rugby.

What is the best thing about being at boarding school?

The best thing for me is being outside of my bubble and learning how to be responsible for myself. I did not want to go to boarding school when we first spoke about it but that all changed when I went to visit my brother, Ryan, at Trinity College School (TCS). I drove through the gates and immediately told my parents that I could see myself there. Now, three years later and about to enter my final year, I would not change my opinion for the world. The formation of lifelong friendships, being a part of a boarding house, the relationships developed with the teachers and new activities I have experienced have made me into the person I have become today. My absolute favourite thing about being at TCS is being a part of my boarding house, Ketchum.

What advice would you give to a student about to start boarding school?

Leaving home to experience a new environment with all new people and having a roommate for the first time sounds intimidating, but if you just be yourself you will have new best friends within the first few days. You can never re-live high school and before you know it you’ll be graduating and off to university, where the real work begins! Make the most of it!

What is your favourite extracurricular activity and why?

Swimming! I have been swimming competitively since the age of ten, so it comes naturally to me. I love being a part of the TCS swim team. I qualified for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships and got a medal each year. I have also been honoured to win the Top Swimmer award for three years in a row.


Jack Tonge

Port Regis, Dorset, UK

Jack was nine years old when he started boarding at Port Regis, then continued on to Marlborough College where he completed his GCSEs. He then took his A-Levels at Cardiff Sixth Form College where he got 3 A*s. Now he is studying a BSc (Hons) in International Management at the University of Warwick.

Did you experience any homesickness?

Being 4,500 miles away from my parents didn’t phase me initially, but in my second term the ‘novelty’ wore off a bit and I found myself suffering quite badly from homesickness in the first few days of each term. Luckily the pastoral care at the school was so good at helping me deal with being away and even when I was jet-lagged at 2.30am, the houseparents were always willing to sit with me and have a conversation over a hot chocolate. I think this is what sets Port Regis apart from other boarding schools! The staff really care about the pupils 24/7.

What advice would you give to a student about to start boarding school?

Although it may seem like a daunting experience, and homesickness may be a tough phase to get through, it is worth every single moment. If you can make the best of the world class education and care given to you, you will be ready for any experience that life throws at you. And if at times, it all seems a little too much, remember that your parents are only a phone call away!

What was your favourite extracurricular activity and why?

Port Regis offers many different hobbies and activities. My favourite activity was Friday’s ‘cook your own supper’ cooking lessons!

What do you think is the most important thing that Port Regis taught you?

The most important thing that Port Regis taught me was independence, and how to manage it, which helped significantly in the transition to senior school. I think that Port Regis gives its pupils the perfect mix of independence and guidance which allows them to make the best of their time at senior/high school and develop in their own way.

The Burke Family

Admiral Farragut Academy (AFA), Florida, USA

Sabrina Burke is in Grade 9 and is in her first year at AFA and her brother, Dylan, is in Grade 12 and just about to graduate. Their older brother, Cory also graduated from AFA in the Class of 2016 and currently attends University of Tampa. Their family connection with Farragut spans back over decades. Their father, Troy, graduated from the Class of 1986, their uncle, Kent, was part of the Class of 1985 and another uncle, Craig, was in the Class of 1996. In total, there are roughly 50-70 alumni and “Friends of Farragut” in Cayman.

What is the best thing about being at boarding school?

Sabrina – Meeting people from all over the world, and not just from the Caribbean.

Dylan – Being away from home and having to learn how to be independent from your parents (which was a very big challenge for me!) I feel much more prepared for college.

What advice would you give to a student about to start boarding school?

Sabrina – Make a lot of friends and don’t be shy, because the people around you are in the same boat and they understand what you are going through.

Dylan – Do not be afraid to ask for help, especially when the campus is new to you. Ask for help to get to class, on things you may not understand, just seek out help and it will be given to you.

What is your favourite extracurricular activity and why?

Sabrina – Drill team because you get to learn discipline and learn how to behave appropriately around peers and your teachers.

Dylan – The sailing programme. I love going onto the water and feeling the breeze in my hair and the sunshine on my face as I cut through the water on my sailboat. It gives me a sense of appreciation for my environment and a chance to relax and think before getting back into the grind of things.

[Dylan also participates in the Drill team, Scuba Dive Club, and is an active member of the National Honor Society. He earned his Florida boaters licence and GM1, which shows proficiency in sailing, all in the span of two years.]

How do you overcome homesickness?

Sabrina – I find someone similar to me and try to be around them and talk to them so I can get my mind off of it. I will also go outside and lay on my hammock.

Dylan – I overcame my homesickness through the residential life staff who knew my brother very well. They had prior knowledge of who I was so it helped acclimate me to the boarding life. Through their help, I felt more like I fit in. The first people I talk to about it though, are my roommates. Speaking about it relieves some of the pain.


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