How school mandated activities made me friends

Freshmen+and+seniors+work+together+during+orientation+at+Menlo+School.+Photo+by+Pete+Zivkov.

Pete Zivkov

Freshmen and seniors work together during orientation at Menlo School. Photo by Pete Zivkov.

 Even though forced communication with your classmates feels awkward, these are the moments where you connect the most with your classmates. Photo courtesy Menlo Flickr.

By Amanda Crisci

From the human-knot to where-the-wind-blows, class bonding activities have existed at Menlo for years and continue to make freshmen feel awkward. However, it was the junior girls event that dispelled my negative opinion about these forced interactions.

When I showed up to freshmen orientation I was terrified to meet my classmates. Although I probably couldn’t tell you who was in my group, I remember the feelings of terror I felt when I met the very people that I would end up spending the next four years with. The seniors that year tried really hard to make us feel comfortable and get us to interact, but the entire experience felt painful and I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.

I didn’t realize it then, but the freshmen orientation was a pivotal event in forming my high school persona. I met a lot of students and got to gage who I was the most comfortable with and it was actually the lunch at freshmen that I met some people who’d become some of my greatest friends.

That interaction I had with them didn’t feel forced and formulated, it didn’t feel like the school was pushing for friendships to happen. It took me three years to realize this but it is the school sponsored activities that cultivate feelings and bonds.

When most of the junior girls stayed after school a few weeks ago to talk about our relationships with one another pretty much everyone that attended was skeptical. Many girls I spoke to felt like nothing was going to be accomplished and the next day everything would revert to the way it was before.

What actually happened was that this school mediated bonding event actually did cultivate understanding and brought people closer together. As a group we talked about what it means to be a class and we had an opportunity to write letters to classmates that we wanted to apologize, commend, or just say something nice to. I wrote a letter to a girl in my grade who I wasn’t very close to but I wanted to tell how great I thought she was. The experience was really great because I got to connect with people in different friend groups and I got to express how I felt.

Perhaps it was the presence of being at school or having trusting teachers there for support that allowed all girls to raise their voices and opinions. I personally feel more connected as a grade with the junior class than ever before.

Although students might berate school sponsored activities, it is the intent behind the event that allowed for progress to be made. These events may feel staged and uncomfortable at first but they have the potential to create a sense of purpose and help grades form stronger friendships.