By Alyssa Chen (VI)

On September 5, the Class of 2018 boarded three buses to the Pocono Valley Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania for their Senior Retreat, the annual overnight trip in which the graduating class bonds through fun activities and prepares for college admissions through workshops.

After arriving at noon and dropping off their bags in outdoor cabins, the students were given the remainder of the afternoon to relax, hang out with classmates, and take part in the numerous activities the resort had to offer. These activies included swimming in the pool, kayaking out on the scenic lake, playing sand volleyball, and completing the tree-top ropes obstacle course. Of the ropes obstacle course, Ethan Chung (VI) said, “It was challenging, but still doable and fun.”

Near the end of the afternoon, it started to rain. “We were lucky,” said Ryan Fuentes (VI), “because we had just enough time during the day to do all of the activities we wanted to before it started pouring in the evening.” Even with the downpour outside, the seniors continued to enjoy their afternoon with indoor activities like basketball, table tennis, and board games. Popular board games included Scattergories and Spot It!, while over twenty seniors partook in a friendship bracelet-making session led by Sehyr Khan (VI), who had brought more than enough bracelet-making thread.

After a delicious dinner served in the cafeteria of the resort, the seniors dressed up for a dance with the theme of “High School Stereotypes.” Seniors went as nerds, jocks, goths, and everything in between. After the dance, the students unwinded by making s’mores and snacking on pizza before heading back to the cabins and sleeping.

The morning was filled with hot breakfast followed by several college workshops led by Ms. Amy Cooperman, Ms. Meghan Finegan, Ms. Susan Kinney, and Mr. Timothy Lear of the college counseling department. The workshops were focused on various aspects of the college application process the seniors were about to begin, such as essay-writing and discussing the admissions office’s point-of-view.

“The college workshops were pretty helpful,” said Melissa Tungare (VI). “I understood more about what colleges were thinking. Also, the workshops made me feel better, because coming back from summer, I didn’t feel ready. But afterwards, I realized that we’re all in the same boat and that the college counselors are there to help us.”

One memorable activity had seniors act as the Pingry admissions committee, tasked with choosing only one student out of six prospective students to admit, while waitlisting and rejecting the five others. From the exercise, students learned how subjective and difficult admissions decisions can be, and that, unfortunately, schools can only admit a few students from a pool of qualified students.

Other workshops saw students reading and evaluating sample college essays while brainstorming for their own. Another workshop was led by Coordinator of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Dr. Diana Artis, Peer Leaders, and the Student Diversity Leadership Club, in which students read about and discussed issues relating to discrimination in their lives and in the world today.

After the educational college workshops, the seniors ate one last meal at the resort, packed their bags, and boarded the buses back to school. The Class of 2018 arrived at Pingry, relaxed, excited, and ready for the first day of school and their final year of high school. As Fuentes said, “It was a great bonding experience and I thought it was a perfect end to the summer.”