One in a Minion: Freshmen Learn to Let Their Light Shine at Retreat


A group of freshmen stop for a photo with their kindergarten buddies during the carnival Friday morning.

Chloe Horner, Staff Writer

The Freshman Retreat, part one of Retreat-a-Palooza weekend, involves almost the entire school. While the class of 2026 looks ahead to the exciting surprises and fun activities that are a part of the retreat, staff members work to organize the event and many juniors and seniors spend months preparing to lead groups of freshmen.

Mr. Mack, who has led the freshman retreat for 30 years, describes his favorite part of the retreat as “seeing student’s light shine.” He feels grateful that he gets “to see a freshman who may not fully feel a part of Prep be supported and nurtured so they feel welcomed and confident that they can be themselves.”

The retreat took place over January 26th, 27th, and 28th and all ninth graders and upperclassman leaders spent the night at Prep on Friday night. On Thursday, freshmen were welcomed into the gym to find their group leaders. After everyone had arrived, the opening ceremonies took place in the Healy theater. The presentation began with prayer, a reflection from the rectors, and upperclassmen group leaders performed a dance for the freshmen. Once the ceremonies concluded, students receded to their designated classrooms to get to know each other better. Before the night was over, participants met once again in the theater for a surprise event.

This year’s retreat was themed “One in a Minion” and during a break on Saturday, freshman got to watch Despicable Me. T-shirts and decorations were all under a Minions theme and Mr. Mack and retreat-leading rectors dressed up as characters from the movies.

One of the most memorable parts of the retreat was the carnival on Friday morning. Freshman got to lead pre-K and kindergardener students from neighboring elementary schools around Prep to different games and activities. Not only was it a fun experience for freshmen, but an opportunity to gain leadership experience and to get more involved in the community. Some of the activities at the carnival were bouncy houses, a petting zoo, slime making, and face painting.

Another significant part of the retreat is home time, when pairs of groups and their leaders go to an upperclassmen’s home for dinner. During this part of the retreat, freshmen listen to a parent talk, a teacher talk, a friendship talk, and a reconciliation talk done by the various members of the Prep community. Groups eat dinner together at the houses and then return for nighttime activities.

Friday night, for many freshmen, is a favorite of the retreat. Participants attended a mass together where the Class of 2026 had the opportunity to address their classmates about their hopes and where they find light among the group. Following mass, there was a talent show in the gym. Almost all the groups performed a dance or skit. Multiple freshmen sang acapella solos, there were dances to many popular songs and the upperclassmen crew members also performed a dance. Everyone spent the night Friday and woke up Saturday morning to take part in the closing ceremonies: a mass and several reflections finished with a video compilation of photos from the weekend.

An important message of the retreat was ‘You are the Light of the World,’ Mr. Mack says “we want freshmen to know they are loved, and are a full part of Prep.”