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The Voice of the Saints

The Voice of the Saints

The Student News Site of Seton Catholic Central

The Voice of the Saints

The Voice of the Saints

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Class Retreats Make Unexpected Comeback
Interior of St. Patrick’s church. Taken from:

A Seton tradition of class retreats has recently resurfaced alongside a 10-hour quarterly service requirement and a community-focal, House Olympics point system. Is Seton entering a new era of service? 

This school year, Seton’s community-based retreats are making an apparent comeback among the middle and high schools. Reinstated by new administrative efforts, coupled with the unique support of former faculty member Sister Brigid O’Mahoney, class retreats, after a long hiatus, resurface at St. Patrick’s church where students have the opportunity to refocus their roles as active agents of community. 

The high school retreats for 11th and 12th grade integrated religious thinking in the activities of the day, through which they were asked to evaluate their roles as community members of a Catholic school rooted in mission of service. For both the 11th and 12th grade retreats, Sister B orchestrated an interactive activity, in which students were asked to form three lines in a descending scheme from the front of the room all the way to the back, from which they would try to get a ball into a bucket positioned close to the first line of students. Each line was assigned a space that they could not leave to try to get the ball in the bucket. The exercise, meant to communicate the Catholic perspective on the act of service, hoped for its participants’ initiative to simply “ask for help.” The only solution for the disproportionate advantage some students had over others was to collaborate among themselves. If members of each sector formed a line towards the bucket, the ball’s final resting place would be nothing but assured. And so, this “trick” aimed to relay how service, in the grand scheme of things, requires us to extend ourselves to those ahead of us, just as it expects us to look back on those in need. Adjoining this exercise, was a theological purpose enveloping a mission of service. 

While it remains unclear why these retreats have become discontinued at Seton, it is clear that under Sister Brigid’s guidance, alongside a resurgent effort to get students to volunteer more hours, class retreats are bringing community-bonding initiatives to the surface this year. However, whether or not they are going to be able to achieve an observable effect on high school students’ attitudes towards service and community involvement remains to be seen. 

In late January, student council and faculty members gathered the middle school students at St. Patrick’s church for their retreat as well. The morning began with a motivational speech by Mr. Bill Clark, world champion strongman and Theology teacher extraordinaire. After the speech, the two grades were split into smaller groups, and with the arrival of Seton’s Student Council members, students began a series of icebreaker activities. After breaking for lunch and participating in a game of Team Trivia, the groups rotated through six stations: 

1. Social Media Safety

Our School Resource Officer, Mr. Leska, revealed some hard truths about the harm that careless social media use may cause. Unlike many speakers, Mr. Leska did not discourage the use of social media, but rather shed some light on ways to spot dangers and avoid them while staying connected with friends. 

2. Kickball

Groups faced off on the turf in the surprisingly warm January weather, meeting new people and fostering teamwork as they sought the grand prize… bragging rights. 

3. Social-Emotional Learning 

Our middle school counselor, Mr. Sawicki, gave an insightful presentation about emotional awareness. Students learned how to gain a better understanding of their personalities and reaction tendencies, and how to adapt when working with people experiencing different moods. 

4. Administration Q&A

Our principal, Mr. Monachino and Dean of Students, Mr. Kerrick, answered students’ burning questions ranging from dress code to bullying protocol and school policies. The open discussion allowed for both students and administration to bring concerns to light and offer solutions. 

5. Adoration

Students sat in peaceful prayer in our Chapel, each gifted a new wooden Rosary decade. Independent prayer time at the Altar was also made available. 

6. Service 

Our art teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, led students in packaging boxes for our school’s “Teen To Teen” service project. The annual initiative provides personal care essentials to local families in need, supplied by donations from the school community. After completing their work, students participated in a trivia rematch!

Sometimes, the best learning experience comes from time outside of class. Despite still being in the school building, students were able to let go of the strict daily grind and build valuable skills through learning from each other. 

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About the Contributor
Maia Graham, Chief Editor and Journalist
Maia Graham is a Sophomore and is now in her second year as a student journalist for The Voice of the Saints. Maia had wanted to start up a newspaper site coming into her freshman year. She signed up for journalism expecting to get a few pointers, luckily, Mr. Van Vleck was already planning to set up a newspaper site! Maia hopes to have a full-fledged newspaper staff by the end of her high school career and aims at recruiting new students into journalism class next year to make this a reality. Despite Maia's complete lack of coordination, she's trying out for the varsity lacrosse team in the spring, but in her free time, she is either writing or playing guitar.
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