Opinion: A Special Retreat for a Special Year

by Natalia Sosna and Vera Jagielski

On Friday, September 21st , the ASW seniors attended their annual senior retreat. Against all odds, including initial doubts about whether the retreat would take place at all, the senior advisory team was able to create a comprehensive plan for a one-day retreat on the ASW campus. 

    Photo courtesy of Natalia S.

 

But what exactly is the senior retreat? This activity is the final class trip that ASW students get to attend. It usually takes place overnight, off-campus, at a hotel right outside of Warsaw. The trip is most well known for providing students with the opportunity to reflect, destress, and build a sense of unity among the senior class.  

While this wasn’t a conventional senior retreat, parents and teachers made an effort to include many fun competitions, scavenger hunts, reflection activities and decorations to recreate the positive atmosphere and sense of community in past retreats.

Upon entering the school, seniors were greeted with a colorful “Seniors 2021” welcome sign written out in front of the high school entrance. 

Photo courtesy of ASW Instagram

Upon collecting their personalized senior hoodies, the seniors ventured out onto the track to take their group photo and eat breakfast provided by ASW parents. Many seniors, like Marcell V., said that they were very impressed with “how good the food was.” With an inspiring morning speech from Mr.Merritt establishing the overarching theme of “resilience” for the Class of 21’, the retreat was off to a promising start. 

That was until the slightly controversial decision by the grade 12 advisory team was announced, reminding the students that their phones were to be confiscated for the duration of the retreat. According to Julia Y., students “couldn’t take any pictures” to commemorate the day. Other students who wish to remain anonymous believe that the decision to confiscate phones reflected a lack of trust in the students. Simultaneously, students like Maya S. supported the general effort to keep students engaged, stating that she “could destress more” without her phone. 

The day continued with the creation of the annual senior art installation. This year’s artwork required the collaboration of individuals to bring together their ideas to create one large piece of art. Each advisory was given a set of colours and each student was tasked with painting their own strip of cardboard which would be combined with the works of the entire rest of the grade. 

After some relaxing painting, it was time for some friendly competition between the 12th grade advisories. Each advisory was tasked with creating a group name, a group cheer, and a short dance routine to accompany their cheer. Competitions ranged from racing to passing balloons and passing hoola hoops.

An annual activity at the senior retreat is the trust walk led by Mr. Sheehan. The trust walk included half the grade getting blindfolded whilst the other half of the class was tasked with guiding them for fifteen minutes around school grounds, after which the guide was revealed to the blindfolded person. The trust walk was one of the more peaceful activities and brought a sense of serenity to the day and amongst students. 

The afternoon continued with more activities for the senior class with a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt included many different activities such as a selfie challenge, a balloon challenge and the adventure of getting to revisit a recreation of the cave from the 9th grade trip to Częstochowa. The recreated cave seemed to be a special experience for many as due to weather reasons the senior class was not able to participate in this activity during the 9th grade trip. 

The day came to an end with a bonfire where students sang, talked with friends, and reminisced about how the past years at ASW had led them to become the seniors they are now. A sense of calm washed over the senior grade as s’mores were made and quiet chatter took over the evening. This was until the sprinklers brought an abrupt end to the night, drenching part of the senior class in water, but overall bringing a memorable end to a memorable day. 

While the format of the senior retreat may have changed this year, the general sentiment remains the same. The senior retreat constitutes the unofficial beginning of senior year, where students come to terms with the somewhat daunting fact that is their final year at ASW. That being said, the positive sense of community fostered by this year’s retreat was a reminder that, although the year ahead may seem scary, seniors will not be facing this battle alone.

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