Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is the dorm schedule structured?
A: Just as at home, dorm life has structure, which helps students manage their school, dorm, and personal responsibilities.
On weekdays, resident counselors are up early to touch base with students before they head to breakfast and classes. Some halls study the Bible Lesson together prior to school while other halls do this in the evening. After school, resident counselors are available as students return home and prepare for extracurricular activities such as sports practices and rehearsals. After dinner, students usually have some free time before study hall—a two-hour block from 7:30–9:30 p.m. for all students to work on homework and academic projects. Specific times may vary each day or amongst the dorms. After study hall, students have more flexible time to finish homework, touch base with friends, or gather as a hall before dorm quiet time around 10:30/11:00 p.m. when the internet goes off and students are encouraged to put technology aside and wind down for the day.
On weekends, boarders may choose from many options, such as service activities and sporting events, planned school and dorm social activities, off-campus outings, or just hanging out in the dorm living rooms. Many activities are student-designed and student-led to support the School’s student-centered culture. Day students are included in most activities and are welcome to hang out at the dorm with friends during weekends. Similarly, boarders are often invited to spend time with day student families.
Q.What does a typical school day look like for a boarding student?
A: Click the plus sign (+) below for a detailed schedule.
Q: Will my child study and learn about Christian Science in the dorms?
A: One of the many blessings of living in the Principia dorm community is the opportunity for each individual to grow closer to God and to understand how Christian Science is relevant to our lives. Each day, every hall in all the dorms takes time to study and discuss the Christian Science Bible Lesson and/or ideas and content from sources such as the Bible, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and a variety of other relevant articles or podcasts. Students also attend Sunday School at a local Christian Science church and Wednesday evening testimony meetings each week either in the dorm or at a nearby church. On occasion, we provide opportunities for students to attend Christian Science lectures, and we invite Christian Science practitioners to visit the dorms for informal chats and Q&A sessions with students.
Each of these activities is essential to our boarding program’s culture and your child’s growth in character. While we understand that students may come to the dorm with varying degrees of understanding and experience with Christian Science, we meet each student right where they are and encourage them to apply what they are learning to everyday challenges.
Q: How can I best stay in touch with my child?
A: We are so grateful that you have shared your child with us. While we work to lovingly meet students' daily needs and help them navigate their Principia experience, we understand that your ability to regularly communicate with your child is of utmost importance. Many boarding parents have commented that their relationship with their child grew stronger and their communications deeper while their child was away at Principia. The following are examples of ways some parents maintain communication with their children:
Regular Communication—With technology and social media, there are so many ways to stay in close touch with your child! Each family is unique in what communication works best for them. (We are specifically attentive to the time differences/needs of international families.) We suggest you establish a regular time when you will touch base with your child each week that works for both of your schedules. You can also follow the Principia School and individual dorms’ Instagram pages for fun updates about student activities.
Visiting Your Child—Parents are always welcome to visit their boarding students. Come watch them perform or compete—or just take them out to dinner and catch up. If you would like to have your student stay with you overnight, we ask that you please arrange this ahead of time by contacting the dorm office coordinator at the Upper School dorms or the resident counselor in the Middle School dorms. You are also welcome to visit for Family Weekend in early October, which offers a variety of fun activities to see your student in action.
Deans’ and Resident Counselors’ Communications—Throughout the year, you will develop a relationship with your child’s resident counselor and the Dean of Boys or Dean of Girls, all of whom will partner with you in keeping the lines of communication open with your child. You will hear from your child’s resident counselor throughout the year, and they welcome opportunities to stay in touch with you!
Q: Will my child be able to come home on breaks?
A: Yes, boarding students can travel home for School breaks. For a list of School breaks and designated travel days for boarding students, please visit the Key Dates page located on the School Portal. There are several long breaks during the academic year: a four-day mid-semester weekend in October, a five-day break at Thanksgiving (though many boarders stay in St. Louis as this is so close to the Christmas break), approximately three weeks at Christmas time, and a two-week spring break in March.
Please note that the dorms are closed during Christmas and spring breaks, so these are perfect times to have your student come home! Students can also apply for optional School trips that take place during breaks (e.g., the Dominican Republic service trip during the first week of Christmas break or Simunye in South Africa and Israel trips during spring break). The school year wraps up by late May or early June.
Q: What kind of academic help is available in the dorm?
A: Resident counselors support boarders during study hall each school night, and tutors are available regularly in the dorms, free of charge. Of course, one of the perks of living in the dorm community is the peer-to-peer tutoring and study groups that naturally emerge! New students and students with a GPA below 3.3 participate in a proctored study hall supervised by resident counselors and tutors. During the fall semester, all freshmen participate in a proctored study hall regardless of their grades. When students raise their GPA or prove the ability to manage their own studies independently, they can study without a proctor. Each dorm may vary in how they facilitate these times. Resident counselors communicate regularly with the teachers and academic counselors to know how to best support each boarding student’s academic progress and needs.
Q: How are off-campus needs handled, such as appointments and shopping trips?
A: We encourage parents to schedule appointments for routine care during the summer and scheduled School breaks, including dental and eye appointments, required sports physical exams, and passport application appointments. However, if a need arises for an off-campus appointment, the student should make a request with the dorm office coordinator who can help schedule appointments and arrange for transportation. Personal errands are usually scheduled in groups around weekend shopping outings. Each weekend, resident counselors take groups of students to local stores (Target, Walmart, shopping malls, etc.) to purchase any needed supplies.
Q: How is technology managed in the dorm?
A: Principia School provides incredible resources for students to explore and discover new ways to put technology to use! As you can imagine, technology can be a challenge for teenagers as they learn to express balance and wisdom in their lives. Students are encouraged and expected to be able to demonstrate appropriate self-governance with technology. If students' use of technology is not demonstrating self-governance (e.g., on their phone/computer/gaming device after lights out, watching inappropriate content, etc.), they will lose the privilege of having access to it—including their personal cell phones, computers, or gaming systems. Parents can also determine how they want their child’s technology use managed by limiting access to video streaming services, data plans, etc. We encourage your partnership in these decisions!
Q: How is discipline managed in the dorms?
A: The dorms are committed to cultivating and supporting the Christian values and character on which Principia is founded. Resident counselors and the deans work together to uphold Principia’s community standards, core values, and the dorm rules that support students living together in a community. Honesty, respect, humility, kindness, and selflessness underpin the integrity that is expected. If a student’s actions warrant further discipline beyond the dorm, they will go before the Reconciliation (Rec) Board. The Rec Board is facilitated by the dean of students and is composed of student peers. Rec Board hears cases of student social discipline brought before it with the goal of supporting and maintaining the Purpose and Policies of The Principia. With healing and reconciliation as its primary objectives, the Rec Board supports wisdom, responsibility, integrity, and goodwill in upholding Principia’s standards.
Q: How do the dorms meet the need for care when my child isn’t feeling well?
A: Your child’s safety and well-being are vital to us. We honor each family’s choice of care and partner with you to meet your student’s needs. If a need is identified, we will reach out to you immediately and communicate regularly as we continue to care for your child. The following are a few resources available to meet student needs:
Christian Science Care Facility—If students are unable to be in school, our dedicated team of Christian Science nurses care for them at Campus House. Our staff provides around-the-clock practical care and a quiet, peaceful place for rest and spiritual study. Campus nurses are always eager to talk with students and provide loving support. They work with the Home Department and parents to determine when a student is ready to return to school or the dorm. Medication is not stored or administered in Campus House.
Metaphysical Support—Resident counselors, houseparents, or Christian Science nurses can help students connect with a Christian Science practitioner, and we are happy to answer any questions if you or your child would like to know more about how to work with a practitioner.
Medical Care—If a family decides to seek medical care for their student, dorm coordinators can help arrange a local medical appointment with your guidance and authorization. It is important that parents are the main point of contact with the physician and are familiar with the case as we support your child. It will be the family’s responsibility to pay for any medical services, care, or medication directly with the provider.
If there is a need for medication (both over-the-counter and/or prescription), our Home Department staff will keep it safely stored and help your student follow the appropriate instructions for administering it. For safety reasons, dorms are required to store ALL medications in a locked location that is available for students to access when needed. It will be the responsibility of each family to cover the cost of any medication needs for their child. Students opting for medical care and the use of medication will be cared for in the dorm by resident counselors.
In the case of an emergency or lingering illness, parents will need to come to St. Louis to care for their child or take their child home for care. If a child is taken to the hospital for surgery, parents must come within 24 hours.
Find out more about Student Health Care.
Q: How's the food?
A: Our dining room serves three healthy meals a day with a variety of options. In addition to an assortment of main course options, students can opt for sandwiches, soup, vegetables, and fresh fruit. Our meals always offer a vegetarian main course. A selection of drinks (including juices and infused waters), desserts, and yogurts round out the choices. The dorms also provide snacks and meals on occasion (when the dining room is closed), and local community members will sometimes drop off treats for our boarders. Resident counselors are also likely to cook fresh treats and food to have on hand in the event a meal is missed. If your child has special dietary needs or restrictions, please communicate this directly to the dorm office coordinator and your child’s resident counselor. Feel free to follow the options on the SAGE Dining Menu.
Q: What should my student bring for the room?
A: The dorm coordinators will provide a list of recommended supplies for each student prior to arrival. The list can be accessed here.