Friendship and Teamwork on Class Retreats

Monday, September 11—The entire Lower School, comprised of Grades 5–8, took time at the beginning of the school year to gather in community and bond as individual classes during all-day retreats. 

Class I and Class IV, representing the youngest and oldest students in Lower School, met up at Hale Reservation in Westwood, Massachusetts. Although they enjoyed separate retreats, the classes shared lunch together. As “buddy classes,” each Class I student is paired with a Class IV student. Especially since they won’t overlap in the classroom, heading to the same retreat center allows buddies to form friendships early in the year and develop connections across grade levels.

“I loved watching students making new friends and encouraging each other during our team-building activities,” shared longtime Class I Coordinator Lisa Stringfellow. “Whether it was leading a classmate through the woods during a trust walk or cheering them across a line on the high-rope activities, they were supportive and caring towards each other.” Class IV Coordinator Emily Moran echoed the sentiment. “It’s so great to watch the students try new things even when they aren’t sure if they’ll be successful the first time. Their encouragement of each other, team problem solving, and abundant joy is making everyone excited for the year.”

In Westford, Massachusetts, Class II students spent the day with a menagerie that included chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, and alpacas at Good Pickin’ Farm. They walked through the woods with goats and also experienced goat yoga. “I just loved seeing the smiles and giggles of the students who were surrounded by all of the animals on the farm,” shared Class II Coordinator Jodi Kerble. “Having baby goats stand on our backs during yoga was very fun and funny!”

Winsor alumna Monica Leitner-Laserna ’03 hosted Class III at Eastie Farm, where she is both cofounder and board vice president. Students were engaged during different activities and willing to challenge themselves and support each other. “They were open to experiences,” said Class III Coordinator Theresa Evenson, like “trying new foods in our delicious lunch, which was Somalian and El Salvadoran cuisine.”

Head of Lower School Sharon Jones Phinney believes strongly in the benefit of retreats, citing  the development of class unity through discussion and activities as a key outcome. “Retreats help students understand who they are as a class and figure out what unifies them,” she told families at the beginning of year. “All trips emphasize our Lower School core values of leadership, integrity, inclusivity, and kindness.”

Upper School retreats for Grades 9–12 are coming up later in the year. In September, Class V will head to Jefferson, Maine for a lakeside overnight stay at Wavus Camp—they’ve been promised s’mores—while Class VI will make two stops, visiting both Russell Orchards and the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts. 

Class events for juniors and seniors happen throughout the year. In the spring, Class VII typically enjoys an overnight trip to Cape Cod and Class VIII will have Senior Circles in May and June.