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Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

School returns to the ‘90s with a phone ban

Dinah 25 Staff Photographer

From April 29 to May 3, Marlborough piloted a phone-free campus coupled with a call back to the ’90s through themed dress days. This was designed to test a potential no-phone policy for the 2024-2025 school year driven by Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli’s initiative to foster increased  connections between students through phone-free community building while on campus.

“I’ve grown increasingly concerned with the degree to which — particularly post-pandemic, but I think
pre-pandemic as well — students and adults rely on their phones as either a replacement for or even a substitute for social interaction,” Ciccarelli said.

“I don’t think anything replaces face-to-face human interaction, and I worry that our ability to interact with each other in constructive, healthy ways … is being lost.”

The week began with an “overall ’90s day,” where students kicked off their phone-free life by sporting low-waisted jeans, baby tees and plaid. They made bracelets, wore mood rings and applied temporary tattoos to get in the spirit of the ’90s and adjust to the phone-free week ahead. The following themes were All Things 90s, 90s Musicians, Clueless/Plaid+Preppy, Beanie Baby Day and 90s Athlete Day.

“The activities have been fun pastimes to participate in during breaks when there isn’t a lot to do and have been a great way to unwind and de-stress,” Audrey 28 said. “Because we don’t have our phones, I’ve been more motivated to actually do the activities than I have been in the past.”

Aside from the 90s themes, throughout the phone-free week students in grades 7-10 were expected to drop their phones in labeled pouches stored inside unlocked boxes at their homeroom every morning. If students arrived on campus late, they handed over their phones to the heads of the division offices before heading to class. At the end of each day, students were individually responsible for retrieving their phones. However, students in grades 11 and 12 could leave their phones in their cars if they choose to go off campus.

“I think the phone policy has been perfect for connecting with my friends and getting to know them on a deeper level because we have to find conversations due to the lack of distractions our phones provide,” Ava ’25 said.

If students were caught using a phone on campus during school hours, their phones would be confiscated and brought to the division office. Students also had the option to turn in their phones themselves. Regardless, a behavioral note would be sent home.

“The way we’ve approached [the] uniform, and the way I would like us to approach [school] policy, and enforcement of policy, is for there to be consequences that encourage opting-in and doing the right thing, by sharing the reasoning behind it,” Ciccarelli said. 

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