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Junior Retreat: Relieving Stress or Making a Mess?

Kellyn Wilde, Reporter

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Junior retreat: a time for peace and rest. On retreat, juniors get to take off two whole school days so that they can forget about school, spend time with God, and have some extra bonding time with their classmates. Sounds relaxing, right? Wrong.

Sure, the retreat itself is calming and enjoyable. But as soon as it’s time to get back to school, bam. All the fun and games are over, and students suddenly find themselves drowning in two days of makeup work. Junior retreat should definitely be on a junior’s to-do list, but the experience would be even better if it started on a Friday with a 12 p.m. dismissal and ended on a Saturday night.

Juniors can enjoy nature, practice Tai Chi, and find various other ways to connect with God while on retreat. The main problem is that every once in awhile, while doing these activities, a junior’s mind will wander to school. In that moment, all of the stress that was just relieved comes rushing back. It is not the slightest bit fun to be thinking about classes when trying to hold a pose during a session of Tai Chi.

Every junior knows by now that time is a limited resource. Even if a junior manages to finish all her homework ahead of time, she still has to catch up on the eight hours worth of classwork and tests she missed while on retreat. In fact, there have been many juniors who have passed on going to retreat simply because they want to avoid these time issues.

Moving the retreat to a Friday after school is much more convenient because juniors won’t miss any school and they will still have time to do homework on Sunday. If they choose to, they can even do their homework before the retreat. This way, precious time is given to juniors in desperate need of it, and they still get the whole enriching retreat experience at the same time.

The retreat not only takes up valuable time, but also makes students frenetic and disorganized. The sole purpose of retreat is to take the chaos out of the craziness that is junior year. Just because the school takes students away from the madness for two days, doesn’t mean it won’t be waiting for students when they return. The junior homework load is already heavy enough without smacking two days of extra work down on students.

Therefore, the other change that needs to be made if we can’t move the retreat to a Friday/Saturday schedule is that teachers need to ease up on the make-up work. It is understandable that students need to make up any missed unit tests or projects, but they should not have to worry about their grades being affected due to a missing homework assignment or small quiz. Since the retreat is an event the school encourages as an excused absence, it is only fair that students are excused from the two days of classwork and one night of homework as well. This way, students can enjoy retreat without worrying about falling behind in classes.

Some students also complained this year that junior retreat was on Mole Day, meaning juniors in chemistry class missed out on a giant extra credit opportunity, causing only more stress. However, students should realize that our Campus Ministry team often has to plan retreats a year to 18 months in advance, when the Pres calendar has not been finalized, so it’s not always possible to avoid days like these. But that provides another reason that moving the retreat to a Friday/Saturday is a good idea–students would be less likely to miss things like Mole Day, club meetings, and other important events.

Moving the retreat may create a slight chaperone problem, but it’s nothing that could not be fixed. Some teachers may prefer not to use their weekend time to go on a retreat, but there are bound to be other teachers that want the experience. After all, even if it is on a weekend, it is still an escape from the reality of our busy lives. Besides, it is just as stressful for teachers to create two days worth of lesson plans as it is for students to miss two days of school.

Some students might argue that they don’t want to spend their weekend on a school event, or that their weekends are used for family time or for working. If enough students say this, perhaps Campus Ministry could consider making one of the retreats on  Friday-Saturday and keeping the other as-is so that students have a choice.

The Presentation junior retreat is a great stress reliever and is definitely worth the time out of the week. However, if junior retreat is truly meant to be a stress free zone, the weight needs to be completely lifted off the shoulders of students. Simply moving the days of the retreat from weekdays to the weekend will cause less disorder and give much needed time to students, making junior retreat the ultimate stress reliever.

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The School Newspaper of Presentation High School.
Junior Retreat: Relieving Stress or Making a Mess?