Siblings get along even in close proximity

Like many siblings, Gillian and David Berry ’09 get along well, occasionally bickering yet always eventually resolving their differences. The Berry siblings do have two distinguishing qualities that set them apart from most siblings: they are fraternal twins and they are both sophomores.

“[Being on the same campus as David] is pretty normal,” Gillian said. “I’ve never known any different, since we’ve always gone to the same school, so I’m used to it.”

At the Upper School, 70 students out of approximately 800 have siblings on campus, with an even greater number of students having siblings at the Middle School.

“Having a sibling at the Upper School is totally different from having a sibling at the Middle School or at another school,” psychologist Luba Bek said. “You’re around the same people, the same teachers.”
Bek says that having a sibling at the Upper School can have both an upside and a downside.

“There’s always going to be a comparison between the students, even if it’s not necessarily competition,” Bek said. “Teachers inadvertently compare siblings they’ve taught, saying, ‘It runs in the family’ or ‘The brother isn’t like the sister.’ [As a student], you don’t want to be compared because if your sibling is a stellar athlete or a stellar student, that puts pressure on you to be the same or outdo your sibling.”

Also, when an older student has a younger sibling on campus, the role of protector can be overbearing.

“The older sibling might think that with all of [his/her] responsibilities, they still have to additionally act as protector to their younger sibling,” Bek said. Students make the best of these possible conflicts that could arise between siblings.

“Since we take different classes, we don’t really compete that much, and in the classes we both take, we help each other out, like during finals, when we studied together for our common classes,” Gillian said. The actual interactions between siblings can be minimal, due to different groups of friends and different schedules.

“I’ll be with my brother for about 20 minutes; we have a couple of the same frees and a lot of the same friends, so that makes it really easy [to spend time together],” Alexa Bagnard ’08 said.

Among the upsides of being on the same campus, students can have first-person insight into the intricacies of upper school life from another, and in some cases more experienced, point of view.
“For the older siblings, it’s nice to act as a protector and a wise guide to younger siblings,” Bek said. “They can tell them the gossip, the inside information and guide them.”

“I like [having my sister on campus] because she lets me know everything ahead of me,” Matt Bagnard ’09 said. “She experienced tenth grade here, so she lets me know what I’m in for.”

Younger students can also indirectly benefit from the privileges awarded seniors.

“Sometimes my sister will bring me back food from when she goes off campus,” Hunter Spinks ’09 said.

“Since I don’t have my license, my sister and I carpool to school, and we talk a lot on the way to and from school,” Katie Barcay ’08 said.

The relationship between siblings at school is sometimes affected by the increased frequency of seeing each other. Since people like familiarity and having a familiar face near, the presence of a sibling on campus can be a comforting one, Bek said.

“My sister is like my best friend. If I have a problem, I can find her and talk to her about it,” Barcay said. “I’ll miss her after she graduates.”