“I wonder how many people get the chance to sit in a room, surrounded by people who truly care about them,” said senior Ashleigh Griffin. In this statement she spoke the minds of all other 75 seniors, or shall I say, blood sisters.
From March 3rd to the 4th, the Academy of the Holy Names class of 2011 embarked on a 31 hour journey together. This journey is the senior retreat held at the Bethany Center. Respected speaker and former AHN principal Dr. Caltigerone spoke for the earlier half of Thursday, explaining the different stages of womanhood as well as the four different intelligences. Her speech was as insightful as it was informative, and I’m sure the senior class joins me in giving her a big thank you for coming out to speak to us.
Dr. Cal’s speech included guided imagery, an exercise during which the participants close their eyes and imagine the scene that the speaker creates. The exercise hit all the seniors differently.
“I played Barbies with my four year old self,” stated Garrison Daly as she described the mental scene that she created. Other girls experienced childhood bliss or insights into the future during the five minute session.
After Dr. Cal left, the seniors spent their time breaking down the remaining social comfort zones- few of which remain after four years together. It became uncommon to see the same group of girls sitting with each other for each meal at the Bethany Center’s dining hall.
For any student who has not visited the Bethany Center for a retreat yet, you are in for a treat. The grounds are beautiful, as is the chapel. The chapel sits right by the lake and has huge windows from which you can admire the view and the religious statues. On Thursday night, the seniors gathered in the chapel for a prayer service and for other activities that I cannot mention here so as not to spoil the event for seniors to come. I can, however, tell you that the chapel went from silent, to tearful, to full of laughter in under an hour.
After this period of intense emotions, activities went for a lighter turn. Most people could not imagine a place where you could play Catch Phrase with Sister Mary Patricia Plumb or participate in an impromptu zumba class, but at senior retreat nothing is too weird. The night ended with a back to back viewing of Jersey Shore episodes, which are ten times more amusing when you’re watching them with your Academy sisters and when you’re eating your fifth cookie.
An early morning wake-up call was followed by a nostalgic ice breaker. In what our wonderful chaperones told us was an un-precented event, the seniors went way beyond the time limit for the activity by telling hilarious stories from the awkward beginnings of freshman year to events that occurred mere hours before. We laughed and we got choked up. The bond between the girls of the class of 2011 became more palpable than ever.
We ended, as we do in all things at the Academy, in prayer. The bus ride back to the Academy, back home I should say, was a picture perfect moment of the retreat. 76 girls draped over each other, either sleeping or laughing, like a real family. That seemingly uneventful bus ride was a physical image of our sisterhood. The sisterhood that we refuse to let go of.