The annual Senior Retreat was held at Snowbird last Monday (9/21). The Class of 2021 was able to visit with Andrew Menke, our Head of School before boarding buses to go up Little Cottonwood Canyon. He asked them to embrace two words as they approach this final chapter of their Waterford journey – courage and grace.
The half-day retreat (Group 2 in the morning and Group 1 in the afternoon) included framing remarks from Class XII Dean Mrs. Munson, a session of yoga and mindfulness with Mr. Watkins, a personal writing reflection with Ms. Cooper and we closed with a traditional Quaker meeting where students were able to share their sweet Waterford memories, their sense of unity as a class and their hopes for this capstone year. It was a wonderful beginning to a most wonderful year.
Parker A. ’21 shared more about the experience:
My senior retreat was one of the best days I’ve had this year so far. It was the first time I got to see my friends in awhile as I had to quarantine myself for two weeks due to being exposed to COVID-19. Being able to see, talk to, and laugh with my friends again would have already made the day one to remember. Being able to go down the alpine slide a few times was definitely a huge bonus as well. But being able to spend time with my senior classmates in general and being able to express my gratitude for being able to share these last few years with my classmates made this the highlight of my year so far. I have a newfound sense of unity and respect for all of my classmates including the ones I have not interacted with as much as my close friends. I am truly grateful that Waterford allowed us to have this experience.
Isabel H. ’21 shared more about the experience:
As I pulled into the gravel lot at 8:30 AM, thoughts of skepticism were prominent in my head. Afterall, things since the start of the pandemic in March have been pretty dull. As the buses headed up the canyon (with our half of the grade in tow), the feelings of skepticism quickly fled my mind and were replaced by the growing feeling of absolute excitement. When we arrived at Snowbird, unloaded off of the two yellow busses, and walked inside, the fast paced strides and overly interactive nature of my classmates suggested that they were just as excited for our senior retreat.
We started with a writing exercise and meditation/ mindfulness session, both of which were vessels for self- reflection. Led by Ms. Cooper, the writing exercise consisted of writing a letter to our future selves. I discussed my hopes for graduated me, current aspects of my life, and even reminisced on the past. In the mindfulness session, led by Mr. Watkins, we took a break from our screens and other everyday distractions to lay down, focus on our breathing, and simply exist. Personally, meditation usually causes a sort of anxiety because I get distracted with the thoughts in my own head, but something about doing it with my classmates made me feel more calm and comfortable.
After those exercises and a snack, we took part in my favorite part of that Monday morning: the Quaker meeting. My classmates and I made our way to the deck outside the rendezvous room and took a seat in one of the chairs that were positioned in a circle (six feet apart of course). Ms. Munson, our class dean, gave a short speech discussing what the goal of exercise was before we got started. We were to simply discuss our appreciation for one another and respect everyone's “inner light”. At first it was very awkward, nobody really knew what to say or do. But then, in true student body president fashion, Mike O. ’21 stood up and was greeted by cheers from relieved students. In the end, nearly everybody spoke, and they spoke about a multitude of things. Whether it was remembering moments from lower school or communally agreeing on hopes for the future, every person who spoke was met with applause from their peers. Ultimately, this exercise made me realize that without the people who sat around me, I would not be the person I am today. When I first arrived at Waterford after moving from San Francisco, I was very bitter. In hindsight, I am surprised anyone would want to be kind to me, or even come near me, I most certainly wouldn’t have. But my classmates, the very same people who sat in the circle with me, did. They accepted me, took me in with open arms when I needed it the most, and that is something I will be forever grateful for.
This year is inevitably going to be filled with ups and downs, but the senior retreat made me understand that the class of 2021 is stronger than we may even think. That, even in a time of need, all the people around us are always here for us; All we need to do is reach out, and we will be met by a blanket of overwhelming support, joy, and love.
Erika Munson, Class XII Dean and MS/US Librarian, shared the following poem from POEMS, QUOTES, and AN EC DOTES by Irene Latham and Charles Waters:
Awash in attempts to help cool our fevered world, we
Begin simply with words. We savor syllables,
Consider history and meaning. We forge ahead with
Determination, trying to do what's right, though
Each step is filled with uncertainty.
For what is more powerful—more dangerous—than words? What
Gathers us, divides us like these letters and how we arrange them?
How can we use words to improve ourselves and inspire Mindfulness
In the hearts of others without perpetuating fears, misunderstandings?
"Just try," a small voice whispers. So we listen and share. We ponder
Karma and Courage, Tenacity, and Hope. We unspool Our
Lives, remembering triumphs and failures. We write—
Making poems that celebrate Acceptance, Freedom, Respect, building each
Necessary step to show more Compassion and Gratitude.
Our stories put a spotlight on making friends—and losing them. About
Past mistakes and what we're learning. In this never-ending
Quest to change the world, we challenge ourselves with new forms:
Roundel, cherita, limerick, shadorma. We abandon our complacency,
Search within ourselves for how to be changemakers, not
Thinking we have all the answers. Now we listen to opposing views with an Open spirit.
Understanding takes time. We must be patient as our new
Vocabulary takes root, trusting that change will one day bloom.
We're unsure, yet willing to bring our authentic selves to you, not some
Xeroxed copy Of who we wish to be. This is Our moment. Please join us—
You can start with any word you choose. Read with Empathy and Zest.
Zoom into each new moment ready to bring your best self to the world.
April 2, 2021
October 13, 2022
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