Retreats Will Unify the Student Body


Michaela Donato

  Many high schools send their seniors on weeklong or day trips in order to rally school spirit and unity. At Walpole High, there is a lack of school unity. The negative culture at the school needs to be reformed, and retreats will help to do so.

Past senior advisors Mrs. Culliton and Mr. Hahn had tried to establish senior retreats, but struggled to find success.

      “To balance time out of class, cost and attendance [is the biggest challenge],” Mrs. Culliton explained. Previous trips included ventures to Dave & Busters, the North End and Gloucester. On the whole, however, the number of attendees was lacking; at some events, as few as 13 students showed up. In order to boost attendance, retreats must take place during school hours. If the retreats are on half days, everyone wins: students get to miss some school, but teachers do not lose a full class period.

      The details of the retreat are very pliable: it could be a weeklong camping event or a day trip ziplining or a skiing overnight. The possibilities are wide open, and there could be multiple different trips for students to vote on and choose between. The openness of the retreats also makes them easy to integrate into the busy school year and work into students’ packed schedules.

      Retreats also provide an outlet for strengthening school unity. At Walpole High, many conflicts have threatened to divide the school: the Rebel name debate, class representative elections, cheating policy, a sexting scandal. Clearly, there are some problems. Shouldn’t the school want to help develop a culture that emphasizes positivity? Don’t students deserve the chance to bond and heal from the hell they go through during the school year?

      The Class of 2017 has undertaken for themselves the task of reunification. With the Brigade and tailgates and a general rally for school spirit, retreats will only cement these efforts to bring the students together. Senior year is the perfect time for a retreat because the retreats could serve as a last hurrah for students before they graduate. And now, especially since we have lost a major outlet for student unity, retreats couldn’t be a better option. If we can’t have dances, can’t we have supervised retreats with the specific objective of bringing students together in an environment that eliminates stress and is just plain fun?

High school is not fun anymore. Fun is not part of the equation: students, deprived of sleep, wake up—still too early; they attend five ridiculously and unnecessarily long 70-minute classes; they get at least an hour—in certain classes, more like three hours—of homework in each class; they spend more hours playing sports and going to club meetings and working and volunteering; and then they go to sleep drained of all hope because they know they will have to relive the same day again tomorrow. Is one day of fun really too much to ask?

Realistically, price can be a concern. But it doesn’t have to be. Past senior advisor Mrs. Culliton explained that oftentimes, there is money left over from the $140 class dues that all students pay over the course of their high school career. This money, since it is the students’ money, can go toward bringing the price of the retreat down or can help fund the trip for students unable to pay. Though certain trips could potentially be more expensive than others, grade-wide fundraising would easily mitigate costs. And this lessened cost, well, isn’t it worth it to give our seniors one final, unifying experience? We are weighing the value of a trip that, at most, before fundraising, would cost, maybe, a couple hundred bucks. So, aren’t our seniors’ last memories with their peers—the peers they laughed with, cried with, and grew up with—worth at least that much?