Campus move complete, San Jose dorms go co-ed
October 27, 2021
In August, the female boarders moved into their Bartram dorms, reunited with their friends, and prepared for their new classes, just like they had in years past. This year, however, they arrived with the knowledge that they would soon be saying goodbye to their space at the Bartram campus.
While the moving process was delayed due to COVID-19, the girls were finally able to move into the Llura “Lulie” Liggett Gund ’58 Residence Hall for Girls, located on the second floor of Bolles Hall.
The girls started at Bolles Hall at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year when COVID numbers were low. However, they soon had to move back to Bartram. Mrs. Denmark commented on the original move. “It was a bit of a trial run,” she said.
Delays from the COVID pandemic caused construction to fall behind and pieces to arrive later than originally planned. “With everything going on, we were just missing a piece of the puzzle to get the improvements going,” Director of Residential Life, Mike Foley said.
While the girls arrived in Jacksonville and settled into their Batram dorms, they were already preparing for a second move to San Jose. Although they had to return and retrieve forgotten belongings at Bartram, or hurry to unpack once they moved in, the move was “pretty chill” according to Francesca Popkin ‘25. “We woke up at like 6 AM and just drove to San Jose.”
The girls highly anticipated the August 21st move. From having their own bathrooms to a clear view of the St. Johns River, the rooms lived up to the boarders’ expectations. “They’re ten times better. They’re smaller but they’re nicer,” Keira Scott ‘24 described.
Popkin and Scott agree that the brand-new riverfront rooms were a big step up from the older buildings at Bartram. “It was kind of gross and we didn’t have any windows,” Francesca Popkin ‘25 said when describing her previous living conditions.
For Scott, one of the main downsides of living at Bartram was the commute to and from the San Jose campus, especially for athletes during morning practice. Scott explains that she would wake up at 4:30 AM to catch the 5:15 bus to San Jose because of swim practice.“It was really stressful because if you weren’t on the bus, they were leaving without you,” she said.
Unlike Scott, Popkin is not an athlete. While living at Bartram, she had to wait for the San Jose bus after school to accommodate the other boarders who had practice. Now living at San Jose, she can go straight to her dorm after school.
“It’s so much easier after school because we can just go into our dorms, and we don’t have to wait for a bus until after dinner, which was really boring because I don’t do a sport,” Popkin said.
Both Scott and Popkin agree that living so close to their classes greatly increases their productivity with schoolwork. “I’ll be walking around school at night, or I’ll just be downstairs…and it just triggers the fact that I have homework I need to get done or I have a test tomorrow,” Popkin said.
The historic move to San Jose also changed the way boarders interact with one another; now, both the boys and girls live on the same campus. The school implemented new rules as the girls joined the rest of the boarders in Bolles Hall. “We did put some rules into place to where the boys can go, and the girls can go,” Foley said. “There have been some adjustments in that area that we hadn’t had to think about before.”
While girls and boys aren’t allowed in each other’s dorms, Scott mentions that the rules have relaxed a bit. “Before they [the school] were really adamant about having the girls and the boys separate, they were like ‘get them away’, but now they’re a lot more lenient,” Scott said.
One of the changes from living at Bartram to San Jose is living with more people in the building. With the girls now living on the second floor of Bolles Hall and the boys on the third, some girls have complaints. “Okay, this is controversial because I know a lot of girls enjoy being close to the guys, but I hate it…they’re really quiet until I’d say, 10:30, and for some reason they just decide to run laps around their room stomping,” Scott said.
Even though the girls are successfully moved into their new rooms, the old boarding building at Bartram hasn’t been abandoned. The eventual plans for the building include office or classroom spaces. “In the short-term there’s still three dorm families and the middle school head who still live over there in the dorm apartments,” Mrs. Denmark said. “So the space is not abandoned at this point.”
While the move brought about new challenges, it ultimately brought the boarders closer as a community. “It’s like having a bunch of brothers and sisters basically, all just hanging out together,” said Scott. Popkin agrees: “It’s really nice because everyone just knows each other. And you’re all pretty much like family.”