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Discussion about Sophomore and Junior Overnight Retreats

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Discussion about Sophomore and Junior Overnight Retreats

Group of seniors from the class of 2019 pose for a picture at the senior class retreat. Photo courtesy of Kate Jeffries.

Group of seniors from the class of 2019 pose for a picture at the senior class retreat. Photo courtesy of Kate Jeffries.

Group of seniors from the class of 2019 pose for a picture at the senior class retreat. Photo courtesy of Kate Jeffries.

Group of seniors from the class of 2019 pose for a picture at the senior class retreat. Photo courtesy of Kate Jeffries.

Claire Ehrig, Staff Writer

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Unlike the freshmen and senior classes at Menlo, the sophomore and junior classes haven’t scheduled an overnight retreat during the school year.

Each year, the freshmen have two overnight retreats, one in late-September on the Menlo campus and the other in late-April in Santa Cruz. The primary purposes of the freshmen overnight retreats are to give newcomers the opportunity to comfortably and gradually facilitate friendships with their classmates. “It sets you up for a great high school experience if freshmen year you make good bonds,” Dean of Student Life Programs Cathy Chen said.

At the beginning of each school year, the senior class embarks on an overnight retreat to the Santa Cruz mountains. This allows seniors to step up as leaders and set the tone for the school year. “The way they behave leads the school,” Chen said. The senior retreat also gives the seniors the opportunity to reflect. “It’s about bonding, but it’s also about helping [seniors] learn to be intentional about how they want their senior year to go and how they’re going to be […] good leader[s],” Chen said.

The school considers freshmen and senior years to be two critical periods in the high school experience where the time for bonding is especially meaningful. However, English teacher and Sophomore Class Dean Wilson Taylor wants to create time for the sophomores to have that same opportunity. “We do want to build some more for the whole class to get together,” Taylor said.

However, Taylor has concerns about how to make the overnight happen. “There are a number of hurdles that we have to deal with, one of them being the schedule. […] It takes a lot of organization to make an overnight happen,” Taylor said.

History teacher and Junior Class Dean Andy Kitt believes that the juniors need bonding time and having that in the form of an overnight would be special. “I think that there’s meaningful work that we could do, including just drawing closer together as a class” Kitt said.

Yet, Kitt worries about the possible low junior attendance. “Other than school-wide activities, probably because of the pressure of junior year, the junior class events have tended to [have] low attendance,” Kitt said. “Because it’s not a tradition, it would be tricky – possible – but tricky, to find the best time when students will feel excited about [a retreat].” For now, sophomores and juniors don’t go on an annual overnight retreat for budgetary reasons. However, the discussion of changing that is active. “We [in the Student Life Office have] been talking about allocating money to sophomore and junior retreats,” Chen said.

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