9th Grade Retreat
“You play five instruments? You should join Pep Band!”
“I have a sheepadoodle, too!”
“John Jay has varsity bowling?!”
Small groups of ninth graders gathered with juniors and seniors on John Jay’s baseball field in the morning sunshine playing simple games like Two Truths and a Lie and Never Have I Ever. Awkwardness dissolved and smiles emerged as students shared interests and found common ground. And this was only the beginning.
finding common ground
nurturing ninth graders
a path to leadership
The third Monday of the school year was dedicated to the first-ever 9th Grade Retreat—an all-day festival of teambuilding—kicking off John Jay High School’s new leadership program. “Our goal is to build connections,” said Tom Rizzotti, math teacher and head of the program. “In particular, we want to foster relationships between ninth graders and our junior and senior leaders so that they have someone to help them navigate their first year of high school.”
Throughout the year, the approximately 120 student leaders will meet regularly with advisors—teachers Bill Friedman, Joe Gaudio, Dan Longhurst, Emma Nolan, Lauren Trembinski and Rizzotti—to consider how to equip younger students with the tools they need. The leaders and freshmen will connect regularly, too—exactly when and how is still in the works—creating unity across the student body.
By mid-day, any remaining jitters were replaced with a growing rapport through games including Pictionary and spoons. Laughter and fun had the upper hand when the freshmen came together in 50-person “packs” to compete in events like wacky relay races and large-scale charades.
The day couldn’t have been more perfect, with the temperature hovering around 80, warm sunshine and no humidity. The results were pretty spectacular, too—the retreat ended with a spontaneous Rock, Paper, Scissors championship.
crazy relay races
rock, paper, scissors championship
a successful start to high school
“I learned about AP classes and how they can help you,” said Charlie, one of the freshmen participants, at the end of the day.
“It was fun getting to know juniors and seniors,” said Lorelei, another freshman.
“Today was awesome—like camp,” said Sylvia and Colin, two of the senior leaders. They highlighted the social connections made as necessary glue for a successful start to high school.