Urban or Suburban Campuses? (feat. Ainsley Wang ’24)

Ainsley Wang: City Campuses Are Better

Coming to Winsor in the 9th grade from Newton Public Schools, I have experienced both urban and suburban learning environments. After years of careful analysis while fielding empirical research, I’ve concluded: There’s only so much you can do in the ’burbs!

Learning happens best in context. It’s one thing to learn about history in a classroom, but an entirely different thing to see its impact in the communities around you. Boston, molded by centuries of history—a witness to the dawn of this country and a living, breathing laboratory—is an incomparable resource. Where else than Boston will trips to the Museum of Fine Arts (only a 20-minute walk away!), the Huntington Theater, and the renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra be a regular part of a school curriculum? Where else than here will students have access to the resources and internships found in the Longwood Medical Area? Though perhaps a bit cliché, the city is truly our campus. As a Winsor student interested in the intersection of history and STEM, I feel incredibly grateful to receive an education in the heart of Boston, where the resources are endless and my unbridled curiosity is always supported. 

Furthermore, city campuses offer an unparalleled and unique student life. “It’s nice to be able to walk around and get most things I need,” Sofie Robinson ’24 reflected. Starting freshman year, Winsor students receive ‘off-campus privileges,’ where they’re allowed to explore the surrounding area during free periods and lunch. It’s a common sight to see students lining up at Dunkin’ to get munchkins for their club, studying at Starbucks or Caffe Nero for that extra boost during the day, going to the Galleria to have Indian or Chinese food with friends, ordering Bruegger’s Bagels for breakfast or Sweetgreen for lunch… the list just goes on and on! Not to mention our homecoming event, Under The Lights, where sports games go on until late at night. When the city lights turn on, the high-rise buildings shine down on you like a million stars in the sky. So even if city campuses may not have the same swaths of land or greenery as suburban campuses, Winsor students gain a more worldly perspective, immersing themselves in a diverse and bustling environment that isn’t available elsewhere. It’s a whole different kind of education.

“Thinking about college has made me realize how much I like the energy of a city,” Robinson added. “There’s always something going on around and it just seems full of life. I think that kind of environment translates into giving me energy for the school day.” Jokingly, she quips, “Getting honked at wakes me up.”

One point I will take is that the commute is terrible. But considering the rich educational and cultural benefits offered here, I wouldn’t give up our brown-stone jungle for anything. 


Rhett Curtis: Suburban Campuses Are Better

While both urban and suburban high schools offer unique experiences, Belmont Hill’s suburban location provides the ideal environment for development. The campus fosters a sense of community and academic excellence. I also find it hard to believe that one would rather spend their rigorous academic day in a maze of dark highrises than a scattering of classrooms over a beautiful campus. A place like Belmont Hill is an enclave of enlightenment: our academic side of campus is centered around the academic quad, and each distinct building has different classes. Morse is centered around English and language, whilst Melvoin is home to many History and Classics courses. Green lawns are bordered by immaculate landscaping, changing with the seasons. Walking outdoors between classes is an underrated part of my day whether it be sharing a stroll with a friend, or discussing study strategies before a test. Just a few minutes to adjust after coming out of an early long-block class can really recenter you before your next class. 

Much can be said about the benefits of spending time in nature, especially in good weather. After a harsh winter, nothing is better for me than looking out the window and seeing the sun shining across campus, uninhibited by multi-story buildings. What’s better than admiring the natural beauty of nature on campus by playing spikeball on the quad in front of the chapel, or immersed in a game of pickleball outside the library? Open spaces allow for fun and games but also an opportunity to learn; most 3rd formers have had the privilege of visiting the Mass Audubon Nature Preserve (better known as “the Habitat”) as part of Mr. McAlpin’s Environmental Science class.  Belmont Hill’s location provides easy access to the Habitat beyond the athletic fields as well as to major population centers and surrounding suburbs. Opportunities like this at an urban school don’t exist. Even though we aren’t a school in the city, we’re still adjacent to the city, so it’s only a short car ride to Boston. The essentials like Chipotle or Dunkin which are both common destinations after school or practice are even closer.

Belmont Hill boasts two turf fields, 3 baseball fields, and a 400m track looping just outside the Jordan Athletic Building. These swaths of land are simply unable to be found in an urban area like Boston. Likewise, Belmont Hill has been the space for a large parking lot, and there’s a new lot under construction across Prospect Street which will provide over 100 spots for faculty and maintenance parking. Belmont Hill is just off of Route 2 which gives easy fast access to various towns, and the traffic to a suburban school is far less than getting around the notoriously congested Boston roads. For all these reasons, Belmont Hill’s location and campus provide a perfect balance for students, providing all necessary accommodations whilst being in a place for easier, faster transportation.

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