Ready, Set, Rhino! Arrival and Orientation 2023-24

Whether you are a new or returning Rhino, we are excited to see you back on campus soon.

Arrival and orientation schedules were emailed to all students and their parents/guardians and are included below. Information about everything from summer reading to laundry sign up to student debit cards will be posted on student and parent portals. And, of course, the packing list is one of the most asked for resources of new students.

Arrival Dates:
September 1: Preseason athletes arrive after 2 pm (please note that preseason is for varsity athletes and is by invitation; more information to come from the Athletics Office)
September 4: Residential Monitors arrive for training by 12 pm & Student mentors for international students arrive
September 5: International students arrive; new Seniors/PGs not participating in preseason arrive; remaining student mentors arrive
September 6: Arrival day for all domestic new students and any remaining returning students who are not participating in varsity pre-season, monitor training or student mentors

*REVISED* September 6 Arrival and Orientation Schedule
8 am – 11 am: New Lower Mid boarding students arrive and move in
11 am – 1 pm: New Mid boarding students and New Upper Mid boarding students arrive and move in
11 am – 3 pm: All remaining Returning boarding students are welcome to move in
11 am - 1 pm: Lunch (Laube and Prentice available for new Mids and Upper Mids and their families; East Dining Hall reserved for new Lower Mids and their families)
12:30 pm: Reception for all new & returning BIPOC students and families in the Faculty Room
1:30 pm: Welcome Remarks from the Head of School for all new students and their parents and guardians in Bingham Auditorium
3 pm: All remaining parents, guardians, and other family members depart campus
3 pm – 5 pm: New Student Orientation
5 pm: Welcome dinner for all students and faculty
6 pm: Day student meeting with Assistant Head of School, Jeremy LaCasse, in the Faculty Room
7 pm: Dorm meetings (including day students)

As the morning hours are spent moving into dorm rooms, we recommend that new day students, parents & guardians arrive in time for lunch and welcome remarks. Day students should plan to stay on campus for the afternoon orientation activities, day student meeting, and evening dorm meetings, if possible. Pick-up for day students will be at 8 pm in Main Circle.

Ready, Set, Rhino: Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers!) for New Students and Families

What is the new student mentor relationship?

Each new student is assigned a student mentor (a returning student) who can help act as a resource as you get to know Taft. 

How does Taft assign roommates? When will I learn who my roommate is?

Taft’s Residential Life and Admissions teams work together to assign roommates to new students. We will send you your housing assignment (dorm and roommates/s) in late August.

What is the dress code?

Taft’s dress code is available here.

What should boarding students pack? What size sheets should I bring?

Each student will be assigned a bed (twin XL mattress), dresser, desk, and chair. Students are not allowed to have microwaves or fridges in their rooms (even the tiny ones!). Common rooms have full kitchens and are available for student use. It’s a good idea to bring a fan and surge protector. The suggested packing list, updated each year by our Office of Student Life, is available here.

When and where can I ship items before arriving on campus?

With close to 500 boarding students from more than 60 countries shipping items to Taft, our package room gets busy! Please help our wonderful package room staff by making sure your packages are clearly labeled with the student’s first and last name. Packages and mail should be addressed to: STUDENT NAME, 110 Woodbury Rd., Watertown, CT 06795.

Does Taft provide transportation to and from the airport, bus station, or train station for breaks?

Yes! Taft provides bus service to major airports in the area (BDL, JFK) before Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring break. The Office of Student Life will provide information about how to make arrangements before each break.

Do day students have lockers?

Yes, day students will be assigned a locker on orientation day.

When will I find out who my teachers are?

Class programs (the courses you will be taking) were sent to all students and parents/guardians in July. Specific teacher and block assignments are available at the end of August.

When and how do I buy books?

When you received your course program you received information on how to order books for your classes. It’s important that you order your books in advance of coming to campus so that you have all of the materials you need on the first day of classes.

Where can I do laundry?

Many students use E&R laundry service. (Information will be emailed to families about this service soon.) We also have washing machines and dryers available in the basement of each dorm for students to use for a small fee.

How can I access cash on campus?

There is an ATM in the basement of our main building, near the vending machines. Students may also make cash withdrawals from their student account through the bookstore. The business office will soon send an email about MyKidsSpending accounts.

Who will my dean be?

Two class deans are responsible for each grade and overseeing their deanees’ academic progress. Your class dean will make an effort to get to know you well and will be one of the many faculty members who will serve as a resource for you throughout the academic year.

Who will my advisor be?

New students will be assigned a temporary advisor at the beginning of the school year. Your advisor will be another faculty member who can act as a mentor and guide throughout your time at Taft. In October, after you’ve had a chance to settle in and meet other faculty members, you will have a chance to select a permanent advisor.

What if I want to go home for the weekend?

Except for closed weekends, which are noted on the bottom of our PDF calendar, students may leave for the weekend (Saturday night and Sunday) as long as they are granted permission. Full information about leaves and permission is available in the student handbook.

Can my family members visit campus?

Yes! Parents and other family members often come to campus for games and performances. We also host specific weekends (Fall Family Weekend, Winter Family Weekend, and Grands Day) when family members are invited to campus.

What is Family Weekend?

Fall Family Weekend and Winter Family Weekend are designed as times for parents and guardians to visit campus. Family members typically visit a class or two, see the fall play, watch athletic competitions, listen to one of our fabulous singing groups, and check out the exhibit in our art gallery. Please note that we do not hold "parent-teacher conferences." Students are required to spend the night in the dorms on Friday night of Family Weekend, but parents may take them out to dinner. For Fall Family Weekend, many students go home or to a hotel with their parents on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights since it's also Fall Long Weekend (there are classes on Saturday but no classes on Monday or Tuesday.) That being said, the dorms don't close, so students are welcome to stay on campus for the whole weekend. 

Can I stay on campus during school vacations?

Our dorms and dining services close for our longer breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring) and students must leave campus until they reopen. Dorms and dining remain open for long weekends and students are welcome to remain on campus for the long weekends.

More questions? Feel free to reach out to one of the offices listed below:

Admissions Office (questions about arrival and orientation)

Bookstore (questions about textbook orders)

Business Office (questions about tuition payments, student debit cards)

Office of Student Life (questions about residential life, transportation)

Health Center (questions about health requirements)

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