Osa Iyoha ’22
Reaching the end of its hiatus, Mercersburg Academy’s family-style dinners have finally made their return. Due to the pandemic, for more than two years the student body has eaten buffet-style meals or in their dorm rooms from bento-boxes, all the while losing touch with a fundamental tradition to our school. Now, with the blessing of the Health and Wellness Center and through the hard work of Merriweather Godsey, the school has decided it is time for the tradition to make its long-awaited return.
In years past, the family-style meal served as a pillar of the Mercersburg community. Setting itself apart with its focus on community and in contrast to the buffet-style meals we have grown accustomed to, the family-style meal is a key element in the restoration and strengthening of our bonds as a community. Attendance is mandatory, but the opportunity afforded to make connections between previously unacquainted members of our community makes dinners worth sitting down for.
Integral elements of the family-style meal are the Blue and White coats. In a tradition unique to Mercersburg, two students from each table work together to make sure dining goes smoothly, that each course of the meal is brought to the table, that the food is constantly refilled, and that the plates are cleared and returned. Students serving their peers and working together to facilitate a positive atmosphere also helps build a sense of community and cultivates a spirit of humility while also assisting the tireless Merriweather Godsey staff. The family style meal truly lives up to its title, giving us all a chance to grow closer to one another in a way that buffet-style cannot replicate.
The benefits of family-style meals are not strictly sentimental either. Monday night dinners signal a return to normal. Plus, as much as we might dread getting suited up for the formal meal, the Monday night dinner is a great way to get students used to dressing for professional or celebratory events (just make sure you watch that video on how to tie a tie!).
There is also practical value in getting the entire student body in one location. Sit-down lunches serve as a great way to deliver messages or news to students through daily announcements and to allow students to chat with their schoolmates and teachers to help further their interests and goals.
I find that mealtimes are one of the few instances during which the community comes together without a single speaker or topic to focus on. Rather it encourages all of us to meet at the same level, to leave the troubles of the day at the door, and to enjoy some good food.