Boarding Schools and Students of Color

Boarding Schools and Students of Color
A Mother and Son Interview in Partnership with
With India and Kai Rose

RIISE looks forward to Building Boarding School Networks on The Vineyard this August 12, at Edgartown Public Library! Here is the link to RSVP for this free event -

Founder, Gina Parker Collins asked that I (India) share my family's experience by interviewing my son, Kai who attends a boarding school in New Hampshire. She slipped in a parent question at the end!

My name is India Rose and I am a year-round Martha’s Vineyard resident, business consultant and mother to son Kai (17 years old) and daughter Kamryn (11 years old) -two beautiful brown students in predominately white schools.

Kamryn attends her local public middle school on Martha’s Vineyard, but intends to attend a boarding school in three years when she starts her high school career.

Kai is a rising junior and attends a New Hampshire boarding school. He spends his summers at home on The Vineyard working at a bike shop, and working out in the gym in preparation for his return to school at the end of August. He is eager to rejoin his football team for a new season!

To gain some perspective on his experience as a young black male student in a predominately white boarding school, I asked him a few questions.

Me: Five years from now, what aspects of your boarding school experience do you believe you would have benefited from the most?

Kai: Boarding school gives you a lot of independence. It’s also easy to make friends because you live and go to school with them everyday. I feel like boarding school is preparing me for a college lifestyle. I have a roommate, I eat in a dining hall and I have academic, athletic and travel opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I went to my local high school.

Me: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the boarding school experience? And what do you feel most people should know when considering a boarding school?

Kai: I think people hear “boarding school” and think of it as military school or something negative because of how they can be portrayed on television. Its not like that at all. There are plenty of rules because you live at school, but there are also a lot of freedoms too. I’m a football student athlete, so I’d say that if you are an athlete that you should look at the sports programs, meet the coaches, check out their records and game film to get an idea of what the sport programs are like. You also want to know if the school has good school spirit.

Me: How long did it take for you to not miss home? How would you describe “home” at boarding school?

Kai: It took me just a few weeks before I felt settled. I’m pretty social and find it easy to meet new people, so it might take a little longer for someone who is more shy. Home for me is my friends, my football team and attending other sporting events and weekend bonfires on campus.

Me: How can students of color have voice and visibility in predominately white institutions like boarding schools?

Kai: Be a leader and good example for your peers. Stand out from the crowd through good academics, athletics and take initiative.

RIISE: Why did your family choose a boarding school for your son? And are there any challenges or missed opportunities in parenting from afar?

India: Athletics and school culture is what started us on the boarding school search journey. At first we thought that Kai might commute to and from the Island from a school nearby. But around that same time Kai started getting recruited via Twitter by prep school football coaches and that’s when we realized that a boarding school was probably the solution we were looking for.

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