Why do only lower school students get the privilege of a four-day October vacation? Upper schoolers need a retreat just as much, if not more, than their junior high counterparts.
A campus-wide retreat would foster an environment filled with a sense of community rather than competition, which this campus clearly needs if we reexamine this past school year. Middle schoolers have the advantage of vacationing from tests, quizzes and projects for a week to bond with classmates and faculty members on retreat. The constant focus on grades, college and competition would be lessened if the Upper School had a retreat. Upper school students should be able to come together in an environment completely seperate from these pressures and form bonds that are completely removed from the stress and demands of school.
Since underclassmen feel isolated and intimidated by upperclassmen, the school is quite fragmented, especially for the first months of school. Instead of devoting time to the kind of hatred seen earlier this year with facebook groups aimed against sophomores coming to parties and wearing skinny jeans, seniors time should be better spent, befriending underclassmen on a retreat.
Though not formally announced to the student body, members of the Prefect Council did propose an upper school retreat earlier in the year. If the Upper School accepted their plans and agreed to host a campus-wide retreat early in the year with retreat groups including sophomores, juniors, seniors and faculty members, our community could come together, hopefully forming relationships that would last longer than the much needed four-day break.
After going on a retreat early in the year, each group could meet with each other monthly to discuss any issues, maintain friendships and work to continually foster a small community within the larger Harvard-Westlake upper school community.
A stronger sense of unity, would be a break from competition between peers and could help prevent incidents such as the sophomore cheating scandal.
It is important for Harvard-Westlake students to respect their community more than themselves. The cheaters injured the entire school community with their selfish actions, and now more than ever, we must come together.