Claiming a vision

Claiming the Castle program helps students develop

By Sarah Whitmire

Knightly News Reporter

Claiming the Castle is an evolving program that began during the summer 2021 term at Central Penn for residential students to attend to maintain their housing scholarships.

This program came as a result of a conversation Janet Bixler, director of first-year experience, had with a residential adviser who spoke from their perspective on what was important for first-year students when living on campus.

The concept of Claiming the Castle wasn’t just to be a program to keep students’ housing scholarships; it was also meant to have pockets of fun in the process.

two students having lunch at school
E’niyah Cruz and Seth Parr, paralegal majors, chat and check social-media activity over lunch in student lounge next to The Knight and Day Cafe. Programs such as Claiming the Castle boost student confidence and sense of responsibility, and helps students build and maintain community. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

Bixler noted these program goals:

  • Boundaries: establish and communicate personal boundaries and respect those of their suitemates
  • Communication: intent vs impact
  • The consequences of the choices we make when we choose how to solve a conflict

Insights lead to improvement and growth. Bixler has a vision for Claiming the Castle, and would like students’ input.

Insights from Claiming the Castle help students with such concerns as recognizing boundaries, as one must, for instance, among suitemates living on campus, Alexa Feist, right, a PTA major, said. “I’m in it and it has been helpful,” she said. Feist was having lunch in The Knight and Day Cafe with PTA major Kaeleigh Smedley. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi.

Claiming the Castle began to give students more autonomy and responsibility over their communication and actions.

“The goal is to keep it going,” Bixler said. “The activities haven’t changed really that much; it’s just how it’s structured.”

Bixler said that each term, Claiming the Castle has the same concept and content, but accommodations must be made for group size.

two students talking about the future on Central Penn campus
Marketing majors Sierra Phillips and James Hallinan discuss their goals for the future in the student lounge on the patio side of The Knight and Day Cafe. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

Bixler said students are more aware of one another now, and students agreed.

“One of the things I’m trying to do is be conscious of time commitment,” Bixler said.

Claiming the Castle is evolving because it is new. It’s important for students to provide input for programs such as Claiming the Castle so future students can learn values for terms to come.

For more information on Claiming the Castle, contact Bixler at JanetBixler@CentralPenn.Edu.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.