Freshman students participated in the second annual First Year Experience and Retreat Day on Wednesday, October 16. It was designed specifically for them to grow as an inclusive, faith-filled community.
The 441 members of the class were divided into four groups and rotated through activities around campus. One session featured small group discussions with senior students on topics such as time management, relationships, and co-curricular involvement. Another session focused on learning about others in our diverse community and not making assumptions about other people. Students learned about building empathy for the experiences of others and connecting based on like experiences and values. In the main gym, students had a chance to unwind by playing group games. The sessions aim to build social and emotional skills that that can build a stronger, more connected community.
New this year was the addition of the retreat component to the day. Students gathered in their groups in the chapel for prayer and reflection. It was an invitation for the students to discover God, as some are new to a Catholic school community, while others are developing a faith life as young adults. Each student was anointed with oil, a common symbol of blessing and protection. They also signed their official class banner, marking them as permanent Marists.
"It's always a good idea to retreat from our normal routine once in a while," said Deacon Andy Neu '78, the school chaplain. "It's important to take the time to explore new ways of looking at people and the world around us, to try out new opportunities to get to know each other, and, of course, to experience new ways to pray.”
Marist is committed to providing retreats, service opportunities, activities, and programming that help students grow spiritually, academically, and personally. There are retreats for each year level and seniors also participate in a bookend program, Fourth Year Experience.