On Friday, January 7, the Class of 2014 traveled to Bethany Center for a memorable freshman retreat , marking the end of the first semester for the frosh at the Academy.
Unlike Freshman Orientation, the freshman were loud, bubbly, and ready to engage themselves in the day’s activities. They were so loud and excited that Sabrina Marcos, senior class retreat leader, frequently had to make “a hush fall over the crowd.”
Along with Marcos, eleven other senior leaders – Marianna Sotomayor, Bianca Roberts, Abby Lopez, Katie Martin, Emily Caruso, Sasha Dominguez, Meredith Zingale, Noela Lalime, Lindsey Backman, and Paige Russell – planned and presented their “Survival Guide to High School.” In accordance with the guide, the seniors wanted to help their underclassmen peers by giving them their personal insights on how to gain the maximum out of the Academy high school experience.
First on the to-do list, all 108 blindfolded freshmen had to navigate themselves into the Bethany Center from the buses. Although they were led by the seniors, the freshmen had both to trust and lead each other to their destination without allowing their classmates to hit bumps or run into trees. Once arriving safely to the scenic lakeside, the freshmen joined the seniors in welcoming the day, as customary with many Academy occasions, with several silly cheers and a prayer service.
Similar to all retreats at AHN, the Freshman Retreat embarked on a day of self- reflection, class rejuvenation, and of course, fun. Second on the seniors’ “Make Freshman Retreat an Epic Day” list, each senior gave testimonials about their experiences with relationships, spirituality, academics, social life, and extra-curricular activities, as well as advice on how to survive high school. After passing on their wisdom in each category, the seniors broke the frosh up into groups to discuss their experiences, hopes, and questions with a senior leader. Throughout the day, freshmen developed memorable bonds with the seniors and shared their insightful thoughts and hilarious humor.
In a shift of scenery, the retreat ended at the Bethany Center’s scenic chapel where the ninth graders completed the one last tradition for all Academy freshmen. In the reflective surroundings of the chapel, the frosh wrote themselves personal letters that included their dreams, passions, retreat summary, silly memories, and most importantly, goals that they hope they will have achieved by the time they reopen their letters at senior retreat. After a photo shoot around the chapel, documenting this last phase of the retreat, the freshmen walked up the hill to the busses for the ride back to the Academy.
The senior leaders were singularly impressed with the freshmen. Not only were they confident in sharing their opinions, they were also very bonded and comfortable with each other. Although the seniors only spent a day with them, they all agreed that the Class of 2014 will be great leaders of the Academy one day.
All in all, out of everything the freshmen learned that day, the seniors hope that the frosh will embrace every opportunity given to them and enjoy every moment AHN has to offer as they grow in sisterhood with each other, because even though it may feel like eternity at times, high school passes by very quickly.