Phumisit Veskijkul was a timid boy when he left Thailand for Blue Ridge School, an all-boys boarding school in the US. Alone over 8,600 miles away from home, though, he quickly found the upside to this situation: it presented a clean slate where he could build his true self.
“I was not only able to make friends with people from different parts of the world but also hear their stories. That was a character-defining moment for me; it slowly broke down my walls of fear and replaced them with courage,” he shares. Today an environmental architecture major at Middlebury College, he fondly recalls his schooling adventures as the foundation for his self-exploration.
Veskijkul seized every opportunity that came his way at Blue Ridge. He ran for class representative, joined the cross-country team, and went spelunking. He stayed in a winter cabin for a three-day skiing trip. Instead of shying away from change, he developed a growth mindset that pushed him to discover and appreciate the world around him.
Learn, connect, influence
At Blue Ridge School, character development fosters academic and personal growth. Take graduate and pre-med student Katiso Tlelima from Lesotho/South Africa , who discovered dimensions to his capabilities through football, Cooking Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His involvement in these also taught him the importance of unity; there is strength in numbers, and good leaders can harness this power.
As football captain, proctor, and prefect, Tlelima had numerous opportunities to coordinate efforts in diverse teams. “I learned that being a leader does not mean having a title; it means setting an example with your character and doing what is right even when you think no one is watching,” he reflects. His memories of school are filled with gratitude to God, teachers, and friends, highlighting the sense of community that lives in every Blue Ridge student.
Student Shanon Jamil Monjane Simango from Mozambique shares that each boy practises the Golden Rule — treat others how you want to be treated — while holding one another accountable to it. “That’s how we establish a brotherhood; we follow that rule each day at school, helping each other build and grow as one,” he explains. “I’m learning that you don’t need hard tools to become a successful person. It’s all in the fundamentals: loving yourself, helping others, practising empathy and respect, and being grateful for what you have today.”
International students like Hibiki Sakurai from Japan enjoy the camaraderie at Blue Ridge School as it helps them forge impactful connections. “I always feel safe attending school because people are so kind; I feel comfortable talking to them. I also feel confident and motivated to attend classes every day because teachers help and push me to try new challenges,” he testifies.
Grow through adventure in nature
For graduate Dhruv Mehrotra, independence was the theme of his growth at Blue Ridge School. Staying at the boarding school gave him the confidence to be away from his parents and pursue his passion for basketball. “It was tough trying to prove myself while dealing with the stress of making the varsity team in the first year, but my coaches, teammates and teachers were always so cheerful and engaged that this process became easier until I felt that Blue Ridge School was a place I could call home,” says the physics major at Haverford College.
Located at the base of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge School offers boys the opportunities and facilities to learn, explore, and lead amidst natural wonder. Their afternoons are spent in a robust outdoor programme with seven elective classes, while weekends are filled with up to 21 outdoor options. The boys go mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and fly fishing along the 15-mile trail, cultivating a sense of responsibility for the natural environment, one another, and themselves.
The result? A culture that nurtures teamwork, resilience, and trust inside and outside the classroom. Blue Ridge School welcomes boys to immerse themselves in a supportive community; a safe zone where academics, athletics, and outdoor activities draw out the best qualities in each young man.
“The campus is beautiful beyond explanation,” Veskijkul expresses. “There is a whole mountain right behind the school for you to hike, bike, and explore. There is a lake for you to canoe and fish. There is a climbing tower and a great athletic centre. There are various classes, activities, and clubs for you to delve into your passions — you could even start your own club. Most importantly, there are teachers, faculty, staff, and students who are like family, ready to support and thrive with you. I am forever grateful for the lessons and friends I gained at Blue Ridge School.”