A Survival Guide to Groton

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Welcome new and returning students to the Circle! For those unaccustomed to life at Groton School, this is a survival guide to help you familiarize yourself with your new home, traditions unique to Groton, popular places to eat, and things to do.

Cutting the Circle: Don’t

At Groton, our lives revolve around the Circle, with the Schoolhouse, Dining Hall, chapel, and dorms lining the edges. The Circle represents Groton’s small community, and students are likely to run into somebody they know during the school day and after sports, and the Circle is designed to facilitate such interactions. Cutting the Circle (i.e. walking across it) breaks Groton tradition, and, if seen by faculty, you will receive a warning or a demerit.

Roll Call: Do

After morning chapel, the day continues with Roll Call in the Schoolroom. Faculty and students alike make announcements; club heads announce their upcoming meetings, and faculty members announce various events. Tuesdays at Roll Call, you can expect to hear loud cheering from the form announced to come to Parlor (see below) that week. During Spirit Week, the week leading up to St. Mark’s Day (also below) Roll Call becomes an opportunity for dorms to win points and maybe even a pizza feed through outlandish announcements.

St. Mark’s Day: Win

Started in 1886 as a football rivalry, it is one of the 10 oldest high school rivalries in history and now includes all sports. Spirit Week, organized by the Spirit Committee, revs up school spirit with festivities, competitions between dorms, and events like themed dress-up days and Minute-to-Win-It-style competitions during conference. Such hype makes any victories against St. Mark’s even sweeter.  

Conference: Eat

Conference takes place every full day of classes from 10:20 to 10:40 A.M. This period brings relief to the often-hectic school day. Many students flock down to the cafe to grab cold milk and too many cookies, while others use this time to study, socialize and meet with teachers.

Parlor: Go

Every Thursday night, the Maqubelas invite the sixth form and another alternating form to their house for Parlor. This is an opportunity to talk with form-mates, challenge Mr. Maqubela to a ping-pong match, play board games or pool with friends and munch on yet more milk and cookies.

Surprise Holiday: Finally

The color green has a special meaning to weary Groton students: its appearance on a blazer signals Surprise Holiday, a spontaneous day off that occurs once every term. The date of the holiday is planned out and kept secret by the senior and house prefects. The announcement of Surprise Holiday traditionally occurs with significant fanfare. Some noteworthy examples: a helicopter touching down on the Circle in 2008, with a real zebra and by green-Morphsuit clad senior leaders. In fall and spring the announcement is made after morning chapel service, but in the winter, the announcement is usually made the night before. This allows students to not only get a day off from school but also to sleep in. After the announcement, lower schoolers can take buses to Cambridge, while upper schoolers can go into Boston. Both may choose to take buses to nearby Solomon Pond Mall, where they may shop or see a movie, and some opt to relax on the Circle with friends.

Circlefest: How Is It Still Freezing in Spring?

Towards the end of spring, inflatables are scattered across the Circle for Circlefest. The Dining Hall prepares burgers and hot dogs, and upbeat music blasts through the air while students play games on the Circle and enjoy the cookout. This afternoon festivity provides food and fun, while taking advantage of the theoretically beautiful spring weather.

Eateries: Not Too Often, for Your Wallet’s Sake

Looking for a bite to eat? For Asian cuisine, Ayer’s Woo Jung serves quality Korean food, while Wok N Roll in Ayer delivers Chinese food blazingly fast. Closer to home in Groton, Filho’s Cucina serves up excellent Italian food. Johnson’s Restaurant and Dairy Bar, another popular stop, is known for their generous scoops of homemade ice cream and New England-style meals such as seafood, sandwiches, fried food and burgers. For a more formal atmosphere, try Gibbet Hill Grill in town. The restaurant has a farm-to-table American menu, which changes often to accommodate seasonal produce. If you don’t want to leave campus to grab a bite to eat, there’s always the Dining Hall, and the cafe under the Forum stairs that offers bagels and coffee. If you’re craving pizza, you’ve got many choices: The Cottage, Lazy Mary’s and Groton House of Pizza all deliver, and if you have a faculty member to drive you the possibilities are near-endless.

Activities: As Many As Possible

Besides the occasional dances on Saturday nights, there are many activities on campus, such as Casino Night, lawn games, movies on the Circle, and Lip Sync, an interdorm competition each January in which every dorm choreographs a song of their choice. There are also buses to different locations off-campus most weekend. Buses to nearby towns for Saturday night dinner trips occur every weekend, while Dunkin’ Donuts and Blackbird Café shuttles are usually scheduled every other weekend. For shoppers, there are trips to The Point, a shopping center in Littleton that boasts several restaurants and stores.


Emergencies: Inevitable

It’s OK, we all forget things sometimes. On Boston Road is a CVS where you can buy basic goods. If you go a little further, you will run into Shaw’s, a grocery store. In addition, the school store (located in the Forum of the Schoolhouse) stocks essentials including snacks, shampoo, notebooks, sweatshirts and more.