The Residential Life Boarding Program
Michelle Flores and Alexis Vaitekunas

By Michelle Flores and Alexis Vaitekunas, Director and Assistant Director of the Residential Life Program

The Forest Ridge Residential Life Program has evolved from the early beginnings of the convent to a big, cozy home for young women on the sprawling Forest Ridge campus. Young women learn how to live independently, grow as global citizens and navigate relationships.

Our program houses 28 students in grades 8 through 12, where students hold a daily routine of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and study hall. On the weekends, we host a mixture of on and off-campus adventures such as holiday crafts, trips to the local mall, hiking, roller skating and Seattle sightseeing—just to name a few. Our students are expected to learn to live in community with one another. They have a campus full of dorm parents seeking to support their triumphs, challenges and everything in between.

Below is an interview with one of our 10th-grade boarding students. Lenise is a 7-day boarder from the Seattle area.

Share a favorite past on-campus activity—and a favorite past off-campus activity.

Lenise: My favorite recent on-campus activity was when we played kickball a couple of weeks ago. Everyone had different perspectives and ideas on how to play, so that was interesting to figure out. It was fun to play alongside the dorm staff and to see them get engaged in the game with us.

One of my favorite off-campus activities was going to the Washington State Fair. Since we went to the fair at the start of the school year, I didn’t know any of the new students. It was a great time for me to become closer to the group of girls I spent time with at the Fair. We kind of just ‘clicked’ and have hung out every day since then!

What is a challenge when living with 28 girls?

Lenise: The biggest challenge for me is sharing a bathroom! We have multiple bathrooms in the dorm but still must share the space with other girls. I try to wake up early to be the first person in the bathroom, but there are usually already girls in the restroom when I wake up. Everyone usually wants to shower in the evening after study hall, so sometimes I will have to wait a little bit for my turn.

What have you learned about yourself while living in the dorm?

Lenise: I’ve become more independent since living in the dorm. At home, I rely on my parents for many things. My mom usually notices if I’m becoming sick, or does the grocery shopping if I want a certain snack or need something from the store. When I’m at school, I am the one that is making sure I have the things I need or letting someone know that I am not feeling well. I’ve learned to speak up for myself and be responsible.

What have you learned about living with other people?

Lenise: Everybody is different—everyone comes from different places and grew up differently. We all see things in different ways. I believe that I have grown from seeing other’s perspectives. I also have learned that you must adapt when living with other people. It’s different from living at home because everyone has different perspectives you have to be aware of your actions and respect the other girls’ boundaries and feelings.

What type of student would you recommend boarding to?

Lenise: To be a good candidate for boarding, I think you need to be able to share space with others, know how to respect personal spaces and how to treat each other with kindness. Students in a boarding environment should come with an open mind and should be ready to try new experiences and be open to making friends that are different than themselves.

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