Throughout Menaul School’s 125-year history, students from over 50 countries have called Menaul School their home away from home.

Yes, the boarding program has changed over time. Sometimes our alumni have a hard time recognizing the boarding program as their own.

But if you look a little closer, you will see that certain elements are always the same. Past or present, domestic or international, Menaul School staff provides a caring, and empowering home away from home.

Truly College Prep: Boarding

First, to clear up a few things: we are a college preparatory boarding (and day) school. That means the academics are rigorous. Second, we expect students to arrive with a certain level of maturity and ability to be independent. Third, the support and challenge offered at a boarding school is the ultimate preparation for college success.

Parents do not send their student to board at Menaul to “get rid of them”. They make a personal and financial sacrifice to make the best education experience for their students a reality.

As a result, parents who send their students to board often feel like their relationship with their son or daughter improves. A whole team of people do the things that are often friction points between parent and student:

They make sure the students regularly do their chores.

They hold students accountable for their homework, whether that means a longer study hall or privileges of doing homework in their room.

They transport the students wherever they need to go, including doctor appointments and special activities.

We love welcoming the students’ parents onto campus when in town. Often our Head of School will host them at dinner. International families attend meaningful events such as baccalaureate where they are honored by their student with a gesture of a single rose as a sign of gratitude and love.

Historical Snapshot of Menaul School

Originally, the majority of students were domestic. Thus, the Menaul School campus was populated by students from throughout New Mexico and southern Colorado. In particular, northern New Mexico was highly represented with many students from Dixon, Cuba, Chimayo, Mora, Taos, and more.

For years, parents and grandparents sent their beloved children to Menaul School with the goal of a better life with more opportunities. Back in those days, word spread via word of mouth, through families and friends—and the word was good!

In fact, in those days, many families faced the difficult decision to send their students to what was considered a Presbyterian church school. This often caused the priest to excommunicate the family from the church. One family even told us that the priest ejected their family pew out of the church that sent a student to get an education at Menaul School.

From the family’s point of view, they say that they were determined to get the best education possible. They were willing to make any sacrifice, no matter how difficult.

For most of the school’s history, students worked to pay off their tuition. With over 200 acres, the campus offered a farm, printing press, health center, and more. In fact, Menaul School operated as if it were a small town, self-sustaining.

Flash forward to 2021.

Menaul as a Modern Boarding School

The Menaul School boarding program closed in 2000 and reopened in 2010 as an International Boarding program. In fact, most national boarding schools did the same, in order to offset the waning national interest in domestic boarding.

Keep in mind, Menaul School has always been home to international students. Therefore, when you walk through our halls and view the graduate photographs, and you will see students from Thailand, Nigeria, Nepal, Mexico.

This year, we likely will have 16 countries represented in our student body. Talk about true diversity!

Common Questions About Boarding

Many of you have questions about the boarding program, such as, “do the students board all year round?” There is so much curiosity about how we find our international students, what appeals to them about Albuquerque, and more.

We are happy to help fill in the blanks! Menaul School is unique among local private schools. Thus, we understand and appreciate the interest in our program and our community!

How many students board at Menaul School?

In the past decade, enrollment is typically between 35 to 50 per year living on campus, split fairly evenly between girls.

Of those, how many are international students?

Typically, we have 3-5 domestic boarding students, with the remainder international.

Do the students board year-round?

Our dorm students are here throughout the school year. They typically go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some students are unable to go home, in which case we find a local host family—usually our current parents will invite an international student into their home. Students go home every summer.

How do you find your international students?

We recruit students abroad, through fairs that families attend, or through direct contact with agents who promote the school to their communities. Our International Admission Director travels afar multiple times each year to get the word out. Families also come to us via word of mouth, and through local contacts who have family abroad. Our proximity to UNM is also a great benefit; sometimes a visiting professor, or an older sibling, contacts us wanting to get information about the school. However, most inquiries come via direct recruitment abroad.

What opportunities are there for domestic families to learn about or participate in the dorm program?

Our high school students have the most direct connection to dorm students, since the boarding program is primarily for high school aged students. We do board some 8th grade students, and occasionally they are from abroad. For instance, this year we will have an 8th grade student from Cameroon.

However, all students benefit from an international culture at the school. The culture overall is influenced by global culture and issues. In the high school, as a student you might be a local student from the North Valley in an Ethics class, sitting next to a student from Rwanda and another from Morocco. It is impossible to explain without experiencing firsthand, what happens when teens from all parts of the world engage with one another over major issues like poverty, prison reform, or the environment.

Dorm students go on weekend excursions. They ride horseback, river raft, ski. They race go-carts, play paintball, or go to the trampoline park. Domestic students are allowed on these trips; they just have to pay their way. We welcome them on trips, because it helps international students integrate better into the overall school culture.

Local Families Enjoy Our Dorm Students

Entire families have accompanied the dorm students on trips or opened up their homes for a casual dinner/ pool party. Of course, activities were limited to just dorm students during the pandemic—our staff took students hiking, or to safe locations where they could get out and have fun together as a “family unit”.

Pre-pandemic, one of our local families invited two students from Egypt to their home for Thanksgiving, to enjoy along with their high school aged son. It turns out that they ended up roasting a turkey in a pit that they dug together, as a special New Mexican way of celebrating Thanksgiving! They had a blast. This family referred to the two Egyptian students as their own sons. They made them special care packages and kept tabs on them just like they were their own. Isn’t that heartwarming? It is a common occurrence at Menaul School.

Photo: Kim Sanchez

Want to see some of our dorm students talk about Menaul School? Check out our video, and look for Miguel, Vi, and Bat.

Interested in Domestic Boarding? Look for upcoming features and guides. Visit Get to Know Us to talk with our staff.

A current domestic boarding parent recently said,

“If you have the resources to send your student to a private school, for just a bit more you could send them to board. I’m sending my student because it is the best preparation for college and life that I can think of.”

Boarding School Results & Preparation | Check out the boarding school website for more information if considering if boarding school is the right option for your family.

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