Follow the freshmen and seniors’ journey from scared strangers to best friends.
In only 24 hours at Victory Ranch, a group of roughly 120 girls — some at the very beginning of their high school experience and some beginning their last year — moved from a sweaty first encounter to an enthusiastic dance party. The following week, that same group of girls moved from being near-strangers to close friends. But honestly, these transformations were a far cry from the expectations many of the freshmen and seniors held for their time together.
It’s basically tradition for freshmen to have fear or unease as they transition into high school. Every freshman class worries that upperclassmen hate them and wonders what presuppositions the seniors might hold. This tendency toward preoccupation with what others have heard is anything but rare among teenagers. But the small size of our St. Mary’s community — where everyone seems to know everything about each other — only exacerbates the problem. So when the freshmen and seniors were together at Victory Ranch, the question of the day seemed to be “What have you heard about our class?” Though it sounds juicy, the question lends itself to some boring answers, and both freshmen and seniors realized that it was far more interesting and entertaining to spend time learning about each other and even learning from each other.
Starting the year with little knowledge of each other, each class had a lot to learn; after all, each class had about 60 new names to memorize and plenty of new people to get to know. The seniors learned quickly, however, that their freshmen are enthusiastic, eager, and inquisitive. The freshmen reminded the seniors of the importance of a positive attitude when they didn’t complain about running from one end of Victory Ranch to another in 90-degree heat to find clues in the scavenger hunt. They showed the seniors just how much the two classes have in common when they talked in the cabins for hours, obsessed over TikTok sounds and danced to throwback songs.
In Q and A sessions, freshmen learned about the many different clubs and opportunities in high school. Observing all the confident members of the senior class and their close friendships showed the freshmen how much growth is in store for them and their relationships. Speaking to what she learned from the retreat, Anna Douglas Piper (9) said “The whole trip just made me excited for the memories and friends I’m going to make in high school.”
Following the retreat, the seniors and freshmen spent a week doing activities together. After a week of snacks, memes, beauty queens, and food trucks, the verdict is in: freshmen, the seniors don’t hate you. In fact, we actually learned a lot from you. Claire Lee (12) said it best: “I learned that there’s still a good future for the school after we leave.”
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