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Underclass Retreats Return!

“All of it,” writes a freshmen student in response to the question “What was your favorite part about retreat?” Another student wrote that the retreat helped him feel closer to God and to his classmates.

This past April saw the return of underclass retreats to Scecina Memorial High School. The program was reinstated as a result of the fruits from the Strategic Growth Plan’s focus on the Catholic Identity of the school. The retreats were created with several goals in mind:

· To increase the sense of community felt by the students.
· To give the students time to reflect on their lives.
· To help the students grow in their personal faith.

 Junior Retreat

Each class was given a different way to approach these goals. The junior class was split by gender and began the retreat after school on Thursday, April 10. The boys trekked to CYO Camp Rancho Framasa, and the girls stayed at the Benedict Inn retreat center. The single-sex retreats gave the young people a chance to seek their identity as a son or daughter of God. The girls’ retreat was led by Mrs. Nikki Rosswurm. Their theme was a verse from the Book of Wisdom: “Reflection of God’s Eternal Love.” The boys’ retreat was led by Mr. Jim Maslar, and their theme was taken from the writings of St. Francis de Sales: “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.”

“I liked when we talked about loving ourselves for who we are because I struggle with that a lot,” wrote one of the junior girls in an anonymous evaluation. Another wrote, “the retreat helped me to realize I need to be confident in myself, and not judge others so quickly.” Another girl was challenged to learn how to love herself and to realize that she was made “by the love of God.”

“It was so much more fun than I thought it would be,” writes one of the junior boys. “It’s a great building block to becoming closer to your classmates,” writes another. Many of the juniors also thought the retreat could have been longer. Hopefully this means they will be ready to enter fully into the four-day senior retreat next fall.

 Sophomore Retreat

The sophomore retreat, “United as One,” was led by Ms. Margaret Zeh. The sophomores left from Scecina on the morning of Friday, April 11th, and spent their retreat day at the Post Road Community Center. The class was split into 13 small groups, and each small group was given eight main challenges to complete. These challenges ranged from struggling to communicate without words to getting the entire group to stand on one small box together. After completing the main challenges, there were nearly 40 extra challenges to complete for extra points. The goal of the adventure for the entire class to pool together more than 10,000 points, and the sophomores achieved their goal.

“I liked being with people that I’m not best friends with. It made me talk to others,” said one of the sophomores in the evaluation. The groups were assigned randomly, and many of the sophomores walked away with new friends from their class. One sophomore wrote, “I started the day as a lone wolf but joined the pack,” referring to a talk given by biology teacher, Mrs. Brittany Bennett. Another student writes, “All of the challenges were awesome because they showed me that communication, listening, and being able to work with everyone is helpful.”

Freshman Retreat

The Freshmen stayed at Scecina for a retreat entitled, “Scecina Strong!” led by Ms. Megan Jones and Mrs. Jessica Black. This retreat followed the life and example of Fr. Thomas Scecina. The students heard several talks throughout the day and then broke into small groups to discuss. The groups also completed several activities that centered on several core army values such as loyalty, service, and courage.

In their evaluations, many of the freshmen shared how much they enjoyed the various activities and the chance to interact with other people in their class. Mr. Tom Branson gave a talk entitled “What’s your Mission” that inspired many of the students to start making goals and think about the future. A talk by Mrs. Black, “He Carried his Cross Well,” also left an impact on the students and taught them to think of others, not just themselves.

Senior Leadership and Closing Mass

Each retreat felt a strong presence from the senior class. The seniors were sent as leaders on each of the retreats. They led small groups, served as rectors on the junior retreats, and worked alongside the sophomores through their challenges. “The seniors were great leaders,” writes one of the sophomores. “They helped us get through all the stations.” It was a great opportunity to encourage the seniors to step into leadership roles.

The retreat day ended with the whole school reunited in the gym for an all-school Mass that was truly a celebration of the Scecina family.

Restarting the underclass retreats was a huge undertaking, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of Scecina’s Campus Ministry staff, including Ms. Zeh and Echo Apprentice Ms. Angie Pometto, and support from Scecina administration, especially President Joe Therber and Principal John Hegarty. Both campus ministers would be the first to admit that they could not have done it alone. Many teachers and staff from Scecina served in many various roles—everything from the initial brainstorming and planning meeting, to leading small groups and challenges, and by giving inspirational witness talks.

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