The Freshman Retreat is always an event that students have looked back on and reminisced. Freshmen this year have not been fortunate in getting time to meet each other in person as an entire class. Being able to have the opportunity to come together as a whole class for the first time this school year sounded like heaven but COVID had other plans.
The original Freshman Retreat was planned to be on January 29th and 30th but was postponed due to COVID cases going up. The date was moved to April 24th and 25th but was postponed again because COVID cases went up and a few students, including freshman, caught COVID. This led to many freshmen having to quarantine due to exposure to students with COVID. While the first part of the retreat took place online, the schoolboard feels that the second part is too important to do virtually. Eventually, the final day of the retreat occurred on Wednesday, May 12.
The class of ‘24 have gotten used to not having a “normal” experience because of their first year at Prep being mostly online. Because the retreat is an event where they would finally get to meet their entire class, freshmen felt let down when it was postponed. Freshman, Kaitlyn Grusz, commented “When I heard that the retreat was postponed again, I was disappointed but… I guess it was expected.”
Freshmen and leaders have been preparing for the event all year. They met monthly on Zoom, in small groups to get to know each other through icebreakers, discuss how they’ve grown as people, and learn about Prep’s Grad at Grad a program about how to live out the goals of Jesuit education.
The theme of the retreat is the movie Inside Out which fits perfectly because everyone has been experiencing the emotions of the characters throughout the school year. Grusz said “I like the theme; I think the characters perfectly showcase all the emotions I felt when I found out [the retreat would be postponed].”
It has been a long journey for the freshman, but they remain hopeful; “It sucks that the date keeps getting pushed back but as long as we’re still doing it, it’s okay,” Freshman Liam Riley stated.
The freshman came in on May 12th for the Freshman Retreat to participate in a variety of activities that helped them grow as people and as a class. They started their day at 8:30, by learning about the meaning of microaggressions with Deino Scott, the director for diversity, equity, and inclusion. After their time with Mr. Scott, they got into small groups to continue the discussion on microaggressions and how they affect the individuals involved. Freshman built community and had opportunities to practice the goals of Jesuit education while also participating in events like family feud, listening to upper-class leaders talk, listening to their peers talk, and other games.
Past retreats have been very similar but one big difference was that all students had to wear masks and be spread out. Another big thing that was missed is a service part of the retreat where the freshmen get to take preschoolers from other schools around a “carnival” that the leaders put on. Ms. Bernal, a faculty leader of the retreat, commented, “Due to COVID we really can’t do this particular activity.”
Ms. Bernal, although upset about losing that part of the retreat, still has high hopes; “Even if it will be different, it is our hope that our goals of building community and helping the frosh realize they belong here at Prep will be somehow achieved.”
Sydney Chalmers ‘22, a retreat leader hopes that the freshmen will experience a better retreat than she did in light of all the problems. “Personally, my freshman retreat was super groovy, and I want to share the experience with every freshman to make this retreat memorable.”