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The upsides and downsides of the senior class retreat

The Woodlands Academy seniors attended an overnight class retreat and experienced various activities. There were downsides and upsides to the retreat and a couple of students and a retreat leader was interviewed.

Bonding is a key element that goes into forming a solid community. One of the ways Woodlands Academy strengthens the community within the students is by having the students attend class retreats every year. Retreats at Woodlands are a graduation requirement. Each year, every class has at least one retreat. The retreats at Woodlands are structured to be a time for the students to bond as a class and expand friendships with other students. The class retreat for the seniors this year was overnight. The theme of the retreat was discernment. The retreat revolved around the idea of choice and decision-making. The idea was to help the seniors with the difficulties that are faced when having to make a choice, especially at this point in life. 

The retreat allowed the students to bond as a class and cherish the memories they created together these past four years. The retreat was filled with fun activities like yoga, kayaking, meditation and mindfulness. The students took advantage of these activities and participated in a lot of these activities during free time. The students also had a designated time to talk with the small group they were in. The small groups consisted of around six students per group and one student leader. The group leaders came up with a list of questions to ask the students. The questions were designed to take the students down memory lane and alleviate the stress of everyday life. Overall, the retreat was balanced with fun, activeness, reflection and mindfulness. Although the retreat was mostly filled with positive moments, there are always downsides to retreats, especially overnight ones. There are a lot of factors that play into retreats having the best possible outcome for all the students. 

To evaluate how the retreat went overall, three of the students and one of the retreat teachers were interviewed and given questions regarding the retreat and the retreat’s outcome. They were asked questions regarding their overall experience and what could have been changed to make their retreat experience more fulfilling and beneficial. Here are some of the responses of the students! 

One of the seniors who attended the retreat, Maggie James, was asked what she liked about the retreat. She claims: “The senior retreat was a nice time to spend with the senior class away from school and the stress of college applications. We rarely are together as a whole class outside of school, so this gave us all a break from our academics and a light-hearted and joyful time to be together.” 

To get the perspective of a teacher, Ms. Posadas was interviewed. Ms. Posadas was asked what the biggest takeaway from the retreat was. She claims: “The theme was meant to be discernment and that was what all of our planned activities were based off. But, at the same time, we wanted to introduce the idea of choice since being seniors, you get to choose how you want to discern God’s will. Getting older, comes with responsibility which also means a lot of decision-making. We were able to explore that idea by doing activities that took the seniors out of their small group settings. We were very happy and proud of how the seniors responded to the retreat.”

To take the view of another senior, Kaley Meister was asked what her thoughts were on the overall retreat. She claims: “I enjoyed the retreat and valued the time we spent as a class and it feels very full circle given that we have attended a retreat every year since freshman year.” Similarly, senior Bella Claeys “I’m happy I got to bond with my class mates and have time to connect with each other. It was like one last hurrah.”

Despite the positive responses and uplifting demeanor of the retreat, there were also some negatives. Senior Kaley Meister also claims: “The accommodations weren’t ideal.” Senior, Bella Claeys, was asked what could’ve been improved with the retreat. She claims: “I feel like a couple of things could’ve been changed. To start, I wish there could have been roommates. Or at least an option to have a roommate. I feel like overall, the retreat was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it, but I wish we could have a friend to talk to at night for a little before bed.” 

According to the seniors, some of the challenges faced were minor. Some of the challenges were things like not having enough free time or time to socialize outside of the small groups, and the rooming situation. However, they suggested that if those drawbacks are taken into consideration for the years to come, the retreats will have a much more positive outcome for the students. 

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About the Contributor
Liesel Hartwig is a senior at Woodlands Academy, and a first-year writer. She is thrilled, but also saddened to be a writer for the first and last year of her high school career. Outside of school, you can find Liesel shopping, hanging out with friends/family, or listening to music. 

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