Two freshmen collaborate to climb up the ladder.
Two freshmen collaborate to climb up the ladder. Photo: Sara Eden

Most everyone is familiar with the scenario where a new kid comes to school and has difficulty finding friends and fitting in. Thanks to the freshman retreat before school each year, no incoming freshman has to suffer that awkwardness. The Class of 2020, along with peer leaders and faculty chaperones, went to Camp Skyline in Alabama Aug. 13-15. There, they participated in many activities in groups with senior peer leaders to help them collaborate and establish friendships. Activities included rock climbing, team building activities, swimming, canoeing, a ropes course and other bonding activities.

Freshman Jayla Brown’s favorite activity was the V Swing. “The adrenaline rush from stepping off the plank blindfolded was awesome, and the swinging was super fun,” she said. These activities also helped the 19 seniors serving as peer leaders get to know some of the freshmen they are working with throughout the year. These seniors developed close personal relationships with their group members despite the age gap. “I think it was a great bonding experience for the grade and I had a great time meeting all of the freshmen,” said peer leader Kendall Kirkman.

“I thought the new kids integrated really quickly and everyone participated as much as they could,” said freshman class dean Grady Stevens. His favorite activity was the Pamper Pole, where he had to climb a 30-foot pole and jump from the top of it to a trapeze a couple of feet away.

While at Pace, the freshmen will continue to meet on Thursdays during D period with their peer leaders. These classes strengthen the bonds formed at the retreat and help them adjust to high school by giving them experienced role models. These classes continue all year, and the relationships built can last throughout high school and after.