Anshika is a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara. She went to Whitney High School in Cerritos, CA, which was a small public high school that was #1 in the nation.
Anshika told me about her senior retreat she went on in her senior year of high school.
“When I went on retreat with my senior class, I was excited because I had heard about retreats from past years. My upperclassmen friends all said it was the first time that teachers got real with us and that we would get sentimental about graduating high school. I was excited to just camp out with my friends in the woods. Our senior class cabinet I remember themed it around Harry Potter. So, like, cabins were paired together to make houses and we would play games as part of the Triwizard Tournament to win the Cup at the end… It was pretty cool. During the day, we had organized activities but also free time to spend with friends. Then, during the night, teachers would rotate throughout cabins – one man and one woman teacher – and talk about things like sex, drugs, college life, life lessons, etc. They were super real with us and to be honest that was the first time I saw my teachers as humans too. Like, they went through shit in their past when they were our age, and that was super encouraging to hear. They talked about the transition from high school to college and what being an adult meant when you’re out there making your own decisions. It was a safe space. And hearing about the mistakes my teachers had made and how their life wasn’t as perfect as it seemed to be was really… humbling. Seeing them outside of the classroom was.. Weird, but really… insightful. Then, on the last day, we got back the letters we had written to ourselves at the very beginning of the year. Seeing how far we’d come in the span of just one academic school year and how much everything had changed was cool to see… honestly it was probably my favorite part of senior year. I got to know my classmates and teachers a lot more outside of the classroom.
In celebration of students graduating high school and moving on to the next stage of their life, college, or in other words, adulthood, many high schools host some sort of retreat or day where students can ask questions about life in a safe space. I really like the way they organized the retreat from Anshika’s words because they incorporated entertainment and real-life lessons all into one retreat. I appreciated the fact that they thought about the genders of the teachers and how comfortable the students would be asking certain questions with female and male teachers. It was very purposeful and I’m glad that the students had the chance and the safe space to prepare for adulthood together.