By Xinlan ‘Annie’ Chen, Dormitory Life Division Head
Lexington Christian Academy North Campus, known as Lexington Prep School prior to LCA’s final purchase in April 2017, is now under LCA’s full administration. LCA’s boarding program first started in the school year of 2011-2012 with a small boarding size of 12 students. The dorm community has continued to expand since then, and currently there are 51 students and 6 staff members living in our North Campus as a big family. With Mrs. Torjesen being the new Director of Residential Life and Mrs. Martin being the Director of North Campus Operations, changes have been introduced to this amazing property of 52,000 sq.ft.
When LCA Traditional Values Meet New Focus
As it is being emphasized over and over in all we do at LCA, education and extracurricular activities of the school center around the core values. This year, as part of the community building theme, all the changes at the dorm are addressing the same theme of cultivating heart, mind, body, and soul. According to Mrs. Torjesen, all the changes are aiming at getting a structure in place that would be sustainable throughout the years.
Heart – Sit-Down Dinner Project
In most cultures, people look forward to coming home in the evening and sitting down to gather for a meal. This is considered to be the basics for most families of dorm students as well. As they are all away from home, the dorm has now taken the role of forming a family and connecting the students. As it was stated by Mrs. Torjesen, “it seemed like the right place to begin!” Currently, there are two dinner seatings, the first one at 5:30 pm and the second at 6:15 pm. Faculty and students from the main campus are all invited to join dinner at the North Campus (There are sign-up sheets for teachers. Students! If you want to explore the dorm, talk to one of your dorm friends or the Dormitory Life Prefect, Emily Zhou).
“It is clear to me that the dorm parents and staff are working hard to build an intentional community at the dorm, and that family dinner is an important part of that process. I had a wonderful time chatting with a couple of students that I rarely interact with during the school day and will be sure to come back for dinner again soon.”
——Mr. Max Xu
Mind – Academic support
In the North Campus, study hours go from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Dorm parents circulate to ensure a great learning atmosphere is created. In addition to study hall hours, tutoring support is being introduced to the North Campus as well.
Body – Sport & New Food Service
To make sure students living in the North Campus are in good physical shapes, 7-day boarders are required to participate in a fall sport and two activities in total throughout the year. A new food service company, Brock, was brought in by Mrs. Martin in response to various complaints about food quality and sanitary conditions in previous years. A Miso machine and student fridges have also arrived and been installed at the North Campus.
Soul – Bible Study & Church Youth Group
As a Christian community, it is essential to pay attention to spiritual life. At the North Campus where students’ spiritual backgrounds are varied, it is important to provide students with the opportunity to think about what they believe and access to religious practices. This year, Bible Studies and Youth Group from the Grace Chapel have been introduced to the North Campus as well as Sunday Church shuttles.
Under the new administration, LCA North Campuses embraced several changes in rules and ways of operation.
Expanded AECIP Program
According to Mrs. Torjesen, AECIP, Academic English and Cultural Immersion Program, is a program developed last year in response to the frequent request of boarding program for middle schoolers. With the success of the ninth grade IAE, Intensive Academic English program, AECIP was created to prepare eighth-graders with strong language skills. Mrs. Torjesen and all the staff on the team are fully aware that, coming in at fairly young ages, AECIP students require more attention and help with building study habits, so they make sure to check on them and connect with their faculty advisor frequently.
In past years, transportation methods including Uber and Lyft have been strictly banned. Even with parental approval, violation of such rules would result in detentions. Concerns behind this rule involve frequent negative news regarding Uber usage. Therefore, without thorough background checks of every single driver, it is hard for the school to ensure students’ safety. As for dorm students, however, most of whom have traveled all the way from other countries to Lexington, such restrictions have hindered their involvement with local communities and caused frustrations. An anonymous student shared with our journalist an example, because of the inability to call a taxi in the morning as well as the high fee, the student spent over 1.5 hours on public transportations to a destination that is only 30 mins away to attend an academic workshop. Such frustration eventually gained attention, and this year, with parental approval, junior and seniors living in North Campus have the privilege to use Uber/Lyft.
Friendly Reminder: On the Uber app, there is a section to set up trusted contacts where riders can share their trip status with family and friends and contact them with a single tap during the ride. Please, Please be CAREFUL and be SAFE!
The Reach App
To allow students and staff members to make their schedules with more flexibility, an App called Reach is put into full use. The Reach App was first developed when Mr. Andrew Lease was the Director of Residential Life, but, with all the administrative changes at the dorm, the App had not realized its value until the start of this school year. In the Reach App, students are able to send in their outing plans without writing a formal email requesting a leave. With all the electronic records, dorm parents no longer need to log every student in and out 24/7, and it gives them more freedom to plan their work.
Only three weeks into the school year, Mrs. Torjesen was already able to tell our journalist gladly that she has gotten positive feedbacks in response to new rules that have been put into place. Students said that they have learned a lot about each other through spending half an hour together each day dining together. New equipment like student fridges, a miso machine, and a newly installed basketball court were loved by students as well. This is a great start leading to a promising school year!