By Lina Zhang ‘21
After an exhausting school day, you walk out of the STEM building and head toward the dorms. You cross the street quickly, waving at the friends you meet along the way. Parts of the lake are already covered by floating ice, so you walk briskly, not wanting to stay in the cold for too long. The five-minute walk draws to an end as the red bricks of Maple-Elm come into view. “West is Best”, the bulletin board across the Ritz proudly proclaims.
Built in the early 1980s, West Campus has taken on many roles since its construction. Originally one of the first girl’s dormitories, it now contains the welcoming dorms for all new students. Though no solid decision has been reached about West Campus’ future since Dr. Warren’s announcement last spring, having new dorms away West will be a big change for both the school and students. Despite, and sometimes because of the long and sometimes cold walk to Main Building, many students have actually become quite attached to West Campus.
“I became a prefect on West as a way to give back. In my freshman year, it was very important to have a system of support with prefects, so when I became a prefect, it was a way to offer support all the time,” says Laura Sabino, one of the prefects in Pine-Oak. As the annual recipient of new students, West Campus has become a secure place for them to adjust to life at St. Mark’s. Because they are surrounded by students who can be just as lost and confused, it is easier for new students to come out of their comfort zone. “Most people here are new too, so that helps with adjusting a lot,” says Grace Li, a new fourth former living in Elm.
Dr. Harwood, the former house head of Elm, also speaks of West with clear fondness. “There was so much snow my first winter here. The students would have snowball fights, throw each other into snow banks,” she laughs. House head from 2012-2016, she recalls activities that the house used to do together, such as Halloween parties, spooky stories, and simple things like riding bikes and climbing trees. Even now, dormitories still hold activities that facilitate bonding among students. Brownies, in particular, have lured more than one frantically working Elm student into the Ritz for a short break. These memories of first friendships and life away from home lend West sentimental value as a place to be fondly remembered.
Since its construction, West Campus has grown on the St. Marker’s. From the three small dormitories that Alys Scott, one of the first female students to attend St. Mark’s lived in, West Campus has grown and expanded with the school. Since we may have to bid farewell to these six buildings in a few years, it is all the more important to appreciate them and the memories they contain. West is not only a long, infuriating walk; it is also the place where we find our first homes away from home at St. Mark’s.