Stories from our international boarding schools

EF Academy Torbay’s 2018 time capsule

For many of us at EF Academy Torbay, we’ve marked the ending of another chapter of our lives. For myself and several other friends, we’ve completed all of our IB exams, while a handful of A-Level students are studying in earnest, preparing for their exams with the free reign of their study leave.

Over the last few weeks, many of us left the place that we’ve called home for the past two years. Some of us may never actually be able to meet again as we embark on new, separate paths. This world of ours is small though, I have every faith that we’ll meet again one day.

In the meantime, a time capsule would be able to hold our most treasured memories of our time here. Even when the days shuffle and change. Along with the faces of each intake, our memories will always be etched in some space and time.

If memory should fail, I hope you who stumbles upon this time capsule will be filled with our joy. Whether in a day, or a year, five years or beyond from now.

Skern Lodge

The first entirely school activity during my first year at EF Academy Torbay (2017) was the PG version of Fresher’s Week. Skern Lodge was where we had outdoor activities instead of clubs, drinks substituted with fruit punch, and although we all had fun, we woke up each day more tired than the one before. One important aspect is that Skern Lodge, like many university Fresher Weeks, helped almost every student establish friendships that would see them through their time at school.

Many of the best friends I made at my time here was owed to this trip to Skern Lodge and I will always be grateful for those tunneling, flying foxing, and surfing opportunities which pushed all of us to trust one another, and become friends.

I think that the genius behind the event was that the fear many of us felt from living alone was given a physical manifestation in the form of parkour courses, darkness in the tunnels, great heights while rock climbing, and more. Having witnessed these frightful foes and conquering them alongside our teams who cheered us on, a sense of success and bravery permeated throughout the students who bonded over brilliant bonfires at night. Before any of us knew the wiser, we’d somehow, almost effortlessly, created friendships with which we would share endless moments of laughter, tears, and even near insanity from encroaching deadlines.

This was the magic of Skern Lodge and I will always remember it.

Haytor Science Trip

While upper-school physics students and other, upper-school non-science faculty students were enjoying London in the spring of 2017, all of us environmental, biology, and chemistry students were brought to Haytor in Dartmoor for a science expedition.

I promise you, those two words may pale in comparison to London, but I would’ve still chosen to go to Haytor with my friends over going on a short trip to London in a heartbeat. The days we spent here were filled with discovery and environmental expeditions. It was only missing a camera crew to be the next National Geographic-hit documentary. In those three short days, we managed to employ the skills and knowledge we’d gained throughout the school year into practical application. We tested levels of air and water pollution in the area using a variety of methods, established biodiversity readings from observable plantlife, discussed the ethics, problems, and possible solutions to environmental issues faced by the conservation sites we’d visited, and more.

After our dinners, we would have cozy campfires under clear skies with beckoning stars alongside the sheepish calling of animals around us. On one particularly beautiful evening, we’d gone for a walk through the woods with our school’s biology teacher and came upon a stream enclosed by huge oaks. I decided to stay back in this site with some friends as we melancholically enjoyed the moment, the knowledge that we’d soon be leaving for the summer weighing in the back of all our minds.

Innocent and childish fun, laughter, and pinecone wars soon ensued. Coming back to nature at the end of the school year, our journey had come full circle from our trip to Skern Lodge at the start of the year. Many of us have come a long way in these few months. I know I did.

Islands Challenge

The school year of 2018’s first attempt at bringing students together, the Islands Challenge was a house competition (a then newly implemented system) similar to a simulation game. Students in their houses would have to compete with the other 3 houses to build, sustain, and manage an island through a variety of student roles.

For myself, I had signed up to be part of the government for my house’s island and somehow became president of the island for over 120 years, don’t ask me how. Going a little mad with power, I abused my autocratic authority on the second day of the challenge to usher my 70-80 odd housemates onto the stage with me during a dance competition to dance the Macarena without music. If we were going down, we would go down together as a house (spoiler alert: we won the overall house competition at the end of the year. So, yeah. Saltern rules). It was a truly phenomenal experience, embarrassing ourselves as we laughed our way off the stage.

But it offered many moments of reflection as well. It was an emotional journey for many students who learned of the harsh realities of life through the challenge as their island, and all the work they’d put into it was destroyed. The destruction symbolized how fragile our world truly is, as the political, environmental, economic, and societal climate of the world outside our school escalated with each passing month and tweet.

As of the writing of this time capsule, the Doomsday Clock from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was pointing to 2 minutes to midnight. That’s pretty scary. But gathered in this school were almost 320 vessels of hope from every corner of the globe.

It’s common practice to dig up a time capsule after a few years, and I believe that in a few years time when I dig this time capsule up, everyone I know from Torbay will have accomplished so much in life. Some may have even played a role in soothing some of the current challenges of the world.

Leaver’s Dinner

The eve of many senior students’ departure from Torbay, we held a Leaver’s Dinner. A bittersweet moment for all of us. Old friends and families met and mingled, combining each student’s two worlds as the family they were given were introduced to the family they had made.

It was a busy day of flashing photographs clicking and snapping the night away, capturing every essence of this fleeting moment. In a few hours, graduation was to be upon us. In a few hours, taxis, coaches, trains, and planes were to depart from this small town. In a few hours, another chapter of our journey would come to a close. In a few hours, a new chapter begins.

“Sometimes, rather than comparing ourselves to someone else, or criticizing something, why don’t we just enjoy it?”

– Kevin Syahlintang, 2018 Most Outstanding Upper School Student

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