A new housemaster at Kinross Wolaroi School has had a busy start to the year helping year 7 boys overcome culture change and homesickness.
When Robert Bell isn't overseeing the boy's welfare as the new head of Trathen House he is a geography teacher at the school.
The boarding house is home to 28 year 7 boys and three year 11 students who are in leadership positions.
So far most of his job has been getting to know the year 7 students and helping them adjust to being away from home.
"They look at me with my tie and fancy shoes and think 'where am I' because they've just come off their property," Mr Bell said.
"The idea of taking your hat off for dinner is like a new concept so it's pretty intimidating for them and you can see why they get homesick, especially in year 7.
"We are dealing with a bit of that at the moment because it's just a cultural slap in the face."
However, he said the homesickness doesn't last long.
"They develop incredibly close friendships between themselves," Mr Bell said.
"We say things to them like, 'you're probably sitting next to your groomsman at the moment', that's what happens by the time you finish boarding, you become so close and you share all the highs and lows with each other."
The boarding house
Trathen House was built as the Wolaroi College Junior School with the foundation stone laid in 1957.
There is no air-conditioning making for an uncomfortable start to the year for both students and staff.
"It's been a very hot couple of weeks here, just with the old building and the insulation and things like that," Mr Bell said.
"Trathen House is actually a little bit unique in that it's in the academic part of the school when most of the time the boarding is maybe on the same campus but to the side.
"It's only got about another 12 months of life and then they're re-building it.
"Hence why it's looking a little bit run down because they are just hanging in there."
He said the new boarding house will be on the Icely Road side of the school closer to other boys' boarding houses.
"It will become a little boarding hub down there," Mr Bell said.
The girls boarding facilities are at the PLC site on Coronation Drive.
At Trathen House the year 11 students have single rooms, there's one two bedroom room for swimmers who get up extra early, the rest are four to a room with two bunk beds.
However, there are some spare single rooms for when students get sick.
Mr Bell said the boys spend most of their time in the common room where there's couches, a TV, table tennis, chess, a table for card games and a kitchenette.
"They watch a bit of footy and cricket and stuff like that," Mr Bell said.
Mr Bell said other staff include house mother who has an apartment at the end of the house and there's three other residential assistants who are also teachers at the school. Non school staff also help.
About Mr Bell
Mr Bell and his family moved to Orange in mid-December to prepare for his new role and settle in.
They live in a house next to the school but there is a flat at one end of the boarding house for himself and others who are on duty.
"I've got a family too, I've got three kids, two girls who are at Orange Public and one boy who was born about three months ago," Mr Bell said.
"My brother and sister-in-law live out here and their kids, our kids' cousins are all of the same age and they've lived out here five years, they work in health so it was an opportunity to be closer to them.
"We also were at a point where we were in Sydney and were living in a little two-bedroom apartment and we had two kids at that stage and life was getting expensive and small so there was the opportunity to go and find some more space and work in a job we wanted to work in and be closer to family."
Since arriving and settling in, Mr Bell spent about two weeks phoning the parents to help them prepare for their sons to attend boarding school.
He said a large part of his role is keeping the parents informed and comfortable about what their children are doing or if they are sick or make an achievement such as winning a game of rugby.
Before moving to Orange he was a a housemaster at Cranbrook School and has prior boarding experience at Ascham School but said he had an unusual career trajectory.
He wasn't a boarder himself although he did attend a boarding school.
"I taught for a couple of years after uni but then I was a paramedic for four years and I really enjoyed that job," Mr Bell said.
He said the most enjoyable part of that job was helping people and it was also what he enjoyed the most when he went back to working in a school.
A day in the life of a boarder
Wake up at 6.45am.
All boarders have breakfast together in the dining hall, "it's quite good they could have hot breakfast or cereal and stuff like that," Mr Bell said.
They then return to the house to clean the house and their rooms and might call home.
At 8.30am they go to school for the day and the house is closed.
They return to the house when the bell rings at 3.30pm and afternoon tea will be ready for them.
After afternoon tea they do co-curricular activities such as sport, music or clubs.
Between 5pm and 5.30pm they have dinner followed by free time until about 6.30pm when they can call home or play touch football or ride scooters.
6.30pm to 8pm they have prep, which is homework supervised by a staff member in a classroom.
Supper and winding down time.
Lights out is at 9.15pm.
Many boys have sport on a Saturday and about half the house will go home.
On Sundays they do activities such as 10 pin bowling.