Collaborating in the community

Juniors explore the greater Memphis area on their class trip

Photo: Dr. Marianne Leung
Juniors Ahjayla Bailey, Bennett Matson, Ellie Franklin, Natalie Yanok, David Graber and Hudson Beaudry pose with their awards after escaping at Memphis Escape Rooms. St. George's juniors explored the greater Memphis area on their class trip.

In the past, St. George’s juniors swung from giant swings and rode on zip lines across the woods at Victory Ranch in Bolivar, Tenn., but this year, students remained in town and visited different attractions in the greater Memphis area from Feb. 22-24.

The junior class retreat was held at the St. George’s Bunkhouse, which was completed last year.

Some students were concerned about the trip being held in Memphis since they were accustomed to traveling elsewhere. However, teachers found that students could learn more by working together in the community and that it also helped the school financially, according to biology teacher Mr. Sam Abrams.

“The school had been looking for a couple of ways the last few years to cut the cost of the trip,” Mr. Abrams said. “With the bunkhouse, it was a push to be more incorporated and get ingrained in the fabric of Memphis as a city.”

Before the retreat, students took personality tests, and those results were used to create the groups for the trip, which was met with great concern by some students.

Junior Margo Valadie had reservations about not being with her usual friend group, but she believes being separated from them showed her that she had more in common with her classmates than she thought.

“I think it was most fun to see that I had connections with everyone in the grade. I hadn’t thought about it, but when I went into the trip, I didn’t realize that I had talked to so many people that I didn’t know,” Valadie said. “I know everyone in our grade, but I don’t really know everyone. It was just cool to see how much I had in common with people I really didn’t talk to.”

On Wednesday Feb. 22, students learned how to be a great leader and have empathy for people who are different than them by visiting the National Civil Rights Museum. They listened to guest speakers who shared their personal stories with students and encouraged them to engage in the conversation.

Students also made their mark in the Memphis community by performing various service activities, which included the following: Midsouth Food Bank, Church Health Institute, Caritas Village and Serve901.

The following day, students were able to test their problem-solving at Memphis Escape Rooms and on a Downtown scavenger hunt then took their teamwork skills to new heights by tackling the rock climbing wall and high ropes obstacle course at BRIDGES.

Thursday night, the juniors split into interest groups and developed ideas about changes they would like to see at St. George’s, which were presented in formal proposals to Head of School Mr. Ross Peters the following morning.

Junior Abbie Cloutier felt like working together helped the students grow as a class and showed their readiness for their senior year.

“Going into this trip, we knew that our grade was really divided, but after the scavenger hunt, BRIDGES and the Escape Rooms with people you might not have picked, I felt like we were great and actually liked each other,” Cloutier said. “We were ready to take charge and be those leaders of the school.”

Currently, it has been decided that the junior trip will continue, and teachers hope that it will leave a legacy for other juniors to come.

“None of us had a clue of how it would go, but we were pleased with how it turned out and even received great feedback,” Mr. Abrams said. “There are things about Victory Ranch that we like, but being closer, spending less money and eating better food is preferable. We’ll keep it.”