Grades 9–12 Retreats Build Student Camaraderie

Camping, field trips, and icebreaker activities all conspired to unite Ross School students and prepare them to successfully navigate the upcoming year. Grades 9–12 met their new teachers, oriented themselves to the campus, and engaged in team building projects during their annual fall retreats.

Ninth grade students were introduced to the curriculum and immersed into the themes of the time period they will study through the examination of art and artifacts. They also traveled to Camp Blue Bay in East Hampton for an overnight camping trip. In the great outdoors, they built a campfire, shared stories, enjoyed music performed by a small group of seniors, and took part in a variety of activities designed to bring them closer together, including a scavenger hunt and a tunnel building competition on the beach.

Students in grade 10 split into four groups and designed symbols that they believed reflected the School’s Core Values as well as what it means to be a newcomer to the Ross community. Later, a visiting artist fashioned stencils in the shape of these symbols and painted them onto the students. The sophomores also traveled to Greenport, where they embarked on a scavenger hunt designed by a few seniors who placed Ross paraphernalia in different locations throughout the village. On their way back to the South Fork, the group stopped at Wade’s Beach on Shelter Island for some afternoon relaxation.

Meanwhile, juniors participated in a variety of icebreaker activities. For example, standing on a tarp in groups of 15, they had to figure out how to turn it over without anyone stepping off. This symbolically represented turning over a new leaf as students enter their junior year. They also took an excursion to Montauk for a hike followed by a reflective art project with Dean of Visual Arts Jen Cross. Students were asked to draw maps of their 11th grade year—a visual representation of landmark moments, such as the SATs, prom, and the launch of their Senior Projects. Jen plans to hold onto these maps and return them at the end of the school year for reflection.

Lastly, 12th grade students used the retreat time to start their lengthy and complex college application process, beginning with college counseling. They also began work on their Senior Projects, and some seniors opted to assist with retreats planned for the lower grades. At the end of the retreat, all four grades joined grades 6–8 in the Great Hall for an Upper School Community Meeting. Students reflected on their retreats and challenged Ross faculty and staff to games of volleyball.