Friar’s Take on Villa Maria Academy

Friar’s Lantern members Aidan Naughton, Luke Pajan, and Alex Gueriera traveled into the Hurricane becoming temporary Villa Maria Academy students.



The Friar’s first entered this unfamiliar environment around 7:45 in the morning (almost a full hour before Malvern students had to check in) for a nice breakfast and orientation in the student union before the school day.  

Friars Visit A Science Class During RFT

Pajan’s first class of the day was AP Studio Art. The class was very self-paced it art class consisted of eight students and was spent working on their art projects. The artists were also allowed to listen to music to help stimulate the creative process. However, the class period did feel like a long time for Pajan because he didn’t have any projects to work on. If he did, he thought he would thoroughly enjoy it. 


While Pajan was in AP Studio Art, Naughton and Gueriera had an open period called RFT (Responsible Free Time). During RFT, the Friar’s went to Mr. Magness’s Computer Lab and had the opportunity to showcase their talents on the Nintendo Switch. Of course, Naughton and Gueria had to establish dominance by winning Super Smash Bros. In addition to showcasing their video game prowess, the pair also had a tour of campus during their hostess’s RFT.

After art and RFT, the guys followed their hosts to a Hurricane Huddle, Villa’s mandatory decompression time for students. These “huddles” were a lot like homeroom periods and seemed to be useful in taking time for yourself to rest after the first two classes of the day. Today, the time was spent simply talking with other students but the “huddles” could also be spent talking about mental health and other related topics on other days. Though we heard mixed feelings regarding the huddle, it does have some obvious benefits by increasing the connectivity of students and making the community more close-knit. Whether this was because students had a common enemy (the huddle time) to bond over is unclear. 


Next up for Naughton was Short Story, Poetry, and Song with Mr. Borosky. The class was really interesting. The hour was spent analyzing the classic Hansel and Gretel story and identifying underlying themes and different interpretations of the classic Grimm Fairy Tale. Discussion was encouraged and the teacher, Mr. Borosky helped foster high levels of dialogue for students.


Alex went to digital photography class after RFT and huddle. This was very relaxed and calm. The Villa students worked on their digital photography projects. The school provided them with large, desktop computers for students to work on throughout the class period. The classroom was quiet and relaxing and it was easy for students to get their work done in a working environment. It was a great way to start off the day.


After Hurricane Huddle, Pajan was taken to his second class of the day, AP Computer Science Principles. Pajan was really getting all of the AP action of the day. This class seemed a lot harder than the first class but was still a relaxed environment. These one-hour twenty minutes classes seemed forever for the Malvern boys who were used to sixty-five-minute classes. Villa students coded while Pajan was allowed to play with some robotics and games on the computer. Then Pajan headed to lunch. 


At around 11:30, Naughton and Pajan traveled to Sports Medicine and had the opportunity to learn how to use a stethoscope, and take blood pressure, and a person’s pulse, while also being the test dummies for the rest of the students.  

After Sports Medicine, Naughton, joined by Luke Pajan on his RFT time, went to Ceramics 1 for a very interesting class with Mrs. Bacastow. Aidan quickly discovered that his minor stint into the ceramics world his junior year at Malvern still paid off, Pajan struggled. 


Meanwhile, Alex experienced a great English Social Justice class. The teacher’s main goal was for the students to understand how different people start up in different wealth levels of the world. He had a fun warmup by guessing different African American leaders, and Women’s Rights activists in the class before transitioning into playing monopoly. Everyone was having a great time as we were split up into groups and assigned to different wealth classes. It was a great experience and the students made the game and class fun. 


Next, Pajan was taken to Marriage and Life Choices. The content of the class was akin to theology classes at Malvern and students seemed very comfortable engaging in class, but this often caused tangential discussions. Pajan stayed quiet and observed the rest of the class which made it feel long. 


One thing Aidan gained from this experience was appreciation for his Calc BC teacher Mr. Wagner. This appreciation came when he entered his Honors Calculus class with Mrs. Paintsil and felt like the biggest rockstar nerd on the planet. 


Though Aidan was in a very stressful Honors Calc class, Alex’s pre-calc class was laid back. The teacher was very smart and wrote a thoughtful prayer for the students on National Students Day. The teacher organized a scavenger hunt for the students to do math problems and solve equations. While doing this, she helped out with different steps and taught them new concepts. It was fun to see the students walking and looking for different objects to complete the scavenger hunt. They made it pretty amusing to watch.

To close out the day, all three Friars attended the Tri-M (the school’s musical honors society) concert. All-in-all, the temporary Villa students were very impressed. From songs originally written by students to recitals of famous classical and current works, the talent many of the Villa students showed was immense. After the concert, the Friar’s left Villa Maria with a new perspective and a new experience. 


The Malvern Student’s Guide to Surviving Villa Maria: 

The Bell: 

The Villa Maria bell is horrible. Though it might be nice to have the teacher alerted when class ends, the ringtone of the bell is irritating. If you are going to have a bell, it doesn’t have to ring like elevator music. Also, the bell comes on during the worst times, case in point, ringing during a recital of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” during the Tri-M concert. 


School Spirit: 

Everyone had school spirit and Villa attire on. Villa students seemed to take pride in their work and carry themselves well while at school. Everyone had the right uniform on and treated and respected the teachers, staff, and each other. From all student accounts, there is a lot of pride in the sports teams for the number of people who actually attended the games. 


Class Length: 

The class length varied from 80 minutes to 35 minutes. Alex had two classes over 80 minutes and was not used to it. It is impressive that the girls do that every day. My body and brain was worn down, but it was fun to experience something different. 


Crazy Short Lunches: 

These short lunches were nothing we have ever experienced before. Malvern students used to an hour lunch. At Villa, they had thirty-minute lunches and it seemed to be normal for the girls. Their cafeteria food was good, but the time to eat that food was brutal. If we brought only a handful of Malvern students we could eat all the food provided in the Cafeteria day. 


Overwhelmingly Friendly: 

Everyone went out of their way to say hi to us. They were so nice and made sure you felt comfortable at their school. People would start conversations with me and ask how my day is. They wanted to make my experience better and love the school, which I did.


No Phones

Be careful not to have your phone out on campus or it’ll get snatched. Villa Maria’s no-phone policy is extremely strict. However, like all students, many are able to bypass this restriction using very creative methods. Interesting fact: the phone-in-book technique still works during most English classes. 


Senior Lounge: 

Villa actually has one. The Villa seniors took full advantage of their space by turning off the lights, finding a nice spot on the couch, and taking a nap in between classes. Naughton was very jealous when he saw the lounge. 


Dress Code: 

Watch out Doc! You got some competition! The uniforms at Villa were strictly enforced. A positive of this is that the uniforms actually serve their purpose. A negative, as many Malvern students may argue, is that strict enforcement of the uniform allows for less “self-expression” and more time to get ready in the morning. 


No Friar’s Cup:

Villa did not have a cafe like the Friar’s Cup on campus. Though the demand for food is not even close to Malvern’s, the Friars need their snacks. I’m sure Villa students would want them too. 


Wider Campus: 

The Campus is not very large in size however many classes are spread out between three buildings. Unlike Malvern, you will find yourself frequently moving between buildings for a majority of your classes. Though you might appreciate the picturesque campus on your walk between classes, this feeling will not persist whenever the weather is not so picture-perfect. 



Alex Gueriera:

Everyone in the Villa community was very polite and respectful. I enjoyed getting to know and talking to different people. Not having phones and a strict uniform and lunch policy was very difficult, but fun to try something different. The classes are super long and I was tired of the classes, it is impressive the girls do this every day. I visited the senior lounge and it is really cool. Malvern needs a senior lounge like that.

Luke Pajan:

All around my experience at the Villa was good. I found many similarities and differences between Malvern and Villa. His favorite part of the day had to be seeing the senior lounge. It was their own private room that they got to decorate and do whatever in. Villa was definitely way more strict than Malvern. I do not see the point in making a high school this strict

Aidan Naughton: 

I enjoyed my experience at Villa. It was nice to have another perspective on education and it made me appreciate things at Malvern that I take for granted (especially lunch). I felt that the classes were a lot more intensive than Malvern’s however the difficulty varied. Like Malvern, I think you can make your day as hard or as easy as you would like. There also wasn’t any time for clubs or to meet with teachers during the day. I think Malvern’s extended lunch and 8:00 morning clubs helped students explore more interests because they had more time to do what they wanted. However, what you get out is dependent on what you put in. The schools are similar in that regard.