The McDonald College boarding house is always a busy place but term one, 2021, brought its own challenges. Or maybe ‘challengers’ is a better word to describe the first influx of boys.
Rebecca Rogers, a registered nurse who was appointed Head of Boarding in term 4, 2020, said, “the atmosphere this year is more playful and chaotic. You can definitely hear them coming.”
“It smells better and worse all at the same time,” she laughed, in reference to the heady mix of teen aftershave and hormonal perspiration.
Year 10 boarder and ballet student Melissa said for girl boarders “not much” has changed.
The school has 29 boarders, most are full-time. Boys are housed on Level One, girls occupy the second and third levels of the building on McDonald’s campus in North Strathfield and there’s an alarmed door dividing the genders.
“The door is alarmed and I am alert,” quipped Ms Rogers, who also has a room on Level One.
Ms Rogers said her nursing skills are occasionally called on and her mothering skills come to the fore daily. “I see myself as a surrogate mother,” she said. “They need to leave their school troubles at the door, once inside we’re like a family again.”
Among the highlights of her first full term at The McDonald College was being able to see the children perform, which hadn’t been possible due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Her highlights included, “seeing friendships develop and everyone build up tolerance and patience.”
Year 10 boarders and music students Josh and Ben said living on campus gave them more hours in the day to collaborate musically. “We’ve written a crazy amount of songs since we’ve been here,” Josh said. Ben said the boarding house schedule has helped him structure his days.
The trio were effusive about Ms Rogers. “She’s strict when she needs to be and always caring,” said Melissa. The boys said, “she’s like a mum away from home, and I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job.”