September 29, 2017-- We have now concluded the retreats in the Secondary School and they were a success. The Middle School retreat was on Monday, September 25 and the entire MS went off campus. Students were in their respective House Groups, which are mixed grade level groupings and they engaged in activities designed to connect students and build on the concept of Circle of Concern. Activities were geared towards building a sense of team and making connections at a person level. Students were prompted to reflect on key expectations of how we want our learning environment in the MS to be - kind, caring, and open.
The students did extremely well in demonstrated their understanding of the theme of expanding one’s circle of concern and this work will continue throughout the advisory program over the course of the year. The positive, caring, and safe social environment has been shown in both parent and student surveys in the past and the success of this year’s retreat will only further this.
In the High School the retreats were also geared towards building a positive culture amongst the students. The retreats took place over three days with Grade 9 going one day, Grade 10 another, and Grades 11 & 12 going on the third day. The theme of the retreat was chosen in response to survey data from parents and students last year, and it was also linked to long-term strategic goals of improving the Social and Emotional Learning in the Secondary School.
The focus of the HS retreat was grounded in challenging, clarifying, and expanding students’ views on gender. For purposes of building trust, allowing students to take personal risks and share openly, the male students and female students had separate sessions. The male students were led by Eric Rodine and the students’ male advisors, and the female students were led by Ms. Bishop and their female advisors. Each group looked at how societal pressures as seen through sports, the media, and other examples of cultural influence have come to shape certain perspectives of what it means to be a man or a woman. The sessions were geared towards getting students to become aware of what in their lives have shaped their view on gender, as well as the implications of their views.
The HS students exceptionally well in the retreat, with many students and teachers noting that this was the most productive retreat that they had been on. The efforts have just begun and the groundwork that was put in place on the retreat will be further developed in the advisory program throughout the year. As a way to bring the larger community into this endeavour, we will arrange for a screening of two videos relevant to our goals. The first is entitled, The Mask You Live In, and the Second is entitled, Miss Representation.