Students take time off for class retreats

Students participate in a unique class retreat each March designed for classmates to grow closer as a group through prayer and conversation, scaling walls, tiptoeing across tight ropes and reflection on each senior’s high school experience only a few months before graduation.
“Each retreat, each activity they put you through, tests you individually and your class as a whole,” said Elisa Asdourian (’09). “I felt like they all built off each other and they are meant to mirror a class’s growth and increasing trust over the four years.”
Asdourian, who never missed a retreat, says the freshmen retreat of spending an afternoon with the retired Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) at Oakwood in Atherton helps younger students practice patience by listening to the nuns share their stories as members of the Sacred Heart community.
“They dedicated their entire lives to educating and praying for us, which is mind boggling because I can’t even imagine dedicating my life to just one thing and one thing only — and having so many rules while you’re at it,” said freshman Yun Ji Kim-Bertken. “It was also interesting to hear stories about their families and what schools they taught.”
The freshmen arrived two Thursdays ago in sunny Atherton with stories of Congé for the RSCJ — who then reminisced about the annual surprise day off at schools where they taught. The RSCJ shared their chapel with the girls for a prayer service before more conversation and a dinner where RSCJ offered to share their slices of pizza with students.
“What the sisters love more than anything is when we visit,” said Dean of Students Celine Curran. “They pray for all of us every day.”
The sophomore class retreat tests still-developing class chemistry, according to Asdourian.
“Freshman year, you have friends but you haven’t really had a lot of experiences yet,” said Asdourian. “Sophomore year we were still developing our relationships as a class, but the rock-climbing was a test of our ability to support each other. I remember being really uncomfortable, but with all my classmates cheering for me I got on that wall and had a great time.”
At Berkeley Ironworks Climbing and Fitness Center two Fridays ago, sophomores were introduced to indoor rock-climbing — where new climbers were prepped on proper climbing etiquette before climbing walls of varying difficulty.
“It was the first time I ever reached the top of an actual rock climbing wall,” said sophomore Quinn Reno. “Even when I was tired and my arms and legs felt like they were going to fall off, everyone was cheering me on and I didn’t want to let anyone down and looking down from the top of that wall made me feel good about myself and my classmates standing below me smiling up at me.”
While the sophomores scaled climbing walls, juniors spent the same day at the Fort Miley Adventure Challenge Course, an extension of the Pacific Leadership Institute, where coaches led students through a variety of trust-building activities and rope-crossing obstacles 30 feet above ground.
“That was a big test of our trust and really reflected on the fact that we’ve been together for three years,” said Asdourian. “The activities required us to work together and cooperate as an entire class figuring out patterns and building formations as a class.”
Morning activities included two-person trust exercises and a giant came of Rock-Paper-Scissors before juniors donned hard hats and harnesses to climb thin wooden pegs up tree trunks to cross tightropes and logs. One of the rope-crossing obstacles involved two people crossing in different directions — a few pairs got tangled, a knot of rope and legs.
“We were able to see different sides of people we wouldn’t normally be able to see in a classroom setting,” said junior Monica Rodriguez. “With the help of classmates, people got over their fear of heights surprisingly quick and people we didn’t expect were able to walk on logs or wires.”
Asdourian said the comfort of being high up in trees and trusting your classmates not to leave you there to cross a tightrope alone is fully manifested senior year.
“Senior year you basically sit in a room for hours and profess your love for your sisters,” said Asdourian.
Senior retreat at Bishop’s Ranch in Sonoma County provided space for seniors to climb trees, hike, play basketball and reflect on a class’s success and struggles before graduation. In the retreat’s main event, this year’s class of 53 students sat in a large circle and each received seven minutes of compliments and memories from their classmates.
Tissue boxes, and later paper towel rolls, were tossed back and forth across the room as friends talked about good times and asked for forgiveness for fights and the entire class — most of whom were in tears — a time that Asdourian says seals the four years of bonding through retreats.
“We’re always willing to be there for each other even if we’re not that close,” said senior Amanda Aish. “You were all so welcoming to me and I feel that in some way I am connected to each and every one of you even if we aren’t the best of friends and now I have new motivation to make the best of these last few months with you guys.”
— Zoë Newcomb, Emma Herlihy and Liz Smith contributed to this story.
IMG_1378
A candle signals classmates to take turns complimenting Mary-Kate Cullinane during a seven-hour reflection at the Senior Class retreat last Friday at Bishop’s Ranch in Sonoma County. INA HERLIHY | the broadview

Jovel Queirolo
Managing Editor

Students participate in a unique class retreat each March designed for classmates to grow closer as a group through prayer and conversation, scaling walls, tiptoeing across tight ropes and reflection on each senior’s high school experience only a few months before graduation.

“Each retreat, each activity they put you through, tests you individually and your class as a whole,” said Elisa Asdourian (’09). “I felt like they all built off each other and they are meant to mirror a class’s growth and increasing trust over the four years.”

Asdourian, who never missed a retreat, says the freshmen retreat of spending an afternoon with the retired Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) at Oakwood in Atherton helps younger students practice patience by listening to the nuns share their stories as members of the Sacred Heart community.

“They dedicated their entire lives to educating and praying for us, which is mind boggling because I can’t even imagine dedicating my life to just one thing and one thing only — and having so many rules while you’re at it,” said freshman Yun Ji Kim-Bertken. “It was also interesting to hear stories about their families and what schools they taught.”

The freshmen arrived two Thursdays ago in sunny Atherton with stories of Congé for the RSCJ — who then reminisced about the annual surprise day off at schools where they taught. The RSCJ shared their chapel with the girls for a prayer service before more conversation and a dinner where RSCJ offered to share their slices of pizza with students.

“What the sisters love more than anything is when we visit,” said Dean of Students Celine Curran. “They pray for all of us every day.”

The sophomore class retreat tests still-developing class chemistry, according to Asdourian.

“Freshman year, you have friends but you haven’t really had a lot of experiences yet,” said Asdourian. “Sophomore year we were still developing our relationships as a class, but the rock-climbing was a test of our ability to support each other. I remember being really uncomfortable, but with all my classmates cheering for me I got on that wall and had a great time.”

At Berkeley Ironworks Climbing and Fitness Center two Fridays ago, sophomores were introduced to indoor rock-climbing — where new climbers were prepped on proper climbing etiquette before climbing walls of varying difficulty.

“It was the first time I ever reached the top of an actual rock climbing wall,” said sophomore Quinn Reno. “Even when I was tired and my arms and legs felt like they were going to fall off, everyone was cheering me on and I didn’t want to let anyone down and looking down from the top of that wall made me feel good about myself and my classmates standing below me smiling up at me.”

While the sophomores scaled climbing walls, juniors spent the same day at the Fort Miley Adventure Challenge Course, an extension of the Pacific Leadership Institute, where coaches led students through a variety of trust-building activities and rope-crossing obstacles 30 feet above ground.

“That was a big test of our trust and really reflected on the fact that we’ve been together for three years,” said Asdourian. “The activities required us to work together and cooperate as an entire class figuring out patterns and building formations as a class.”

Morning activities included two-person trust exercises and a giant came of Rock-Paper-Scissors before juniors donned hard hats and harnesses to climb thin wooden pegs up tree trunks to cross tightropes and logs. One of the rope-crossing obstacles involved two people crossing in different directions — a few pairs got tangled, a knot of rope and legs.

“We were able to see different sides of people we wouldn’t normally be able to see in a classroom setting,” said junior Monica Rodriguez. “With the help of classmates, people got over their fear of heights surprisingly quick and people we didn’t expect were able to walk on logs or wires.”

Asdourian said the comfort of being high up in trees and trusting your classmates not to leave you there to cross a tightrope alone is fully manifested senior year.

“Senior year you basically sit in a room for hours and profess your love for your sisters,” said Asdourian.

Senior retreat at Bishop’s Ranch in Sonoma County provided space for seniors to climb trees, hike, play basketball and reflect on a class’s success and struggles before graduation. In the retreat’s main event, this year’s class of 53 students sat in a large circle and each received seven minutes of compliments and memories from their classmates.

Tissue boxes, and later paper towel rolls, were tossed back and forth across the room as friends talked about good times and asked for forgiveness for fights and the entire class — most of whom were in tears — a time that Asdourian says seals the four years of bonding through retreats.

“We’re always willing to be there for each other even if we’re not that close,” said senior Amanda Aish. “You were all so welcoming to me and I feel that in some way I am connected to each and every one of you even if we aren’t the best of friends and now I have new motivation to make the best of these last few months with you guys.”

— Zoë Newcomb, Emma Herlihy and Liz Smith contributed to this story.

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