Fall Outing, orientation and College Jumpstart: Archer leadership welcomes students back to campus

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Photo credit: Maia Alvarez

Students arrive to campus on their first day of the new school year Sept. 6. Prior to the start of school, students from a variety of grade levels experienced outdoor education programs, orientation or College Jumpstart.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

Backpacking in Wyoming. College Jumpstart meeting. “Guess the Song” games in mentorships. These are all ways students in various grade levels reconnected with their peers before the school year began in September.

To welcome students back to campus, Archer leaders planned certain activities or orientations for students that varied depending on their grade level. Instead of the annual upper school and middle school orientation days, there were orientations for some grades, trips for others and a combination of both for some.

Even a year after returning from virtual learning, Head of School Elizabeth English said that there remains an emphasis in every grade on learning how to interact face-to-face again and getting the chance to practice engaging with one another respectfully.

“I think all of our students lost developmental time. Some of it was academic, but some of it was social and societal — how do you interact with people in a civil and courteous way and how do you interact with people face-to-face and not through social media or technology,” English said. “I feel a strong sense of responsibility that Archer graduates know how to lead and know how to engage with one another in a way that is fundamentally dignified and respectful.” 

Freshmen and sophomores had orientation on campus Sept. 1, where they connected with their mentorships through games and group activities. The next day, sophomores went on their Fall Outing day trip to Harbor Cove in Ventura, where they could go paddle-boarding or kayaking. Sophomore Addie Myers said her favorite part was kayaking and getting to connect with her grade.

“We had different grade level activities that were for both 10th and ninth grade. We played ‘Family Feud’ and ‘Guess the Song’ against each mentorship,” Myers said. “Then we got to meet our mentorships and our advisers, and that was really nice to see.” 

The junior class went on Arrow Week in Lander, Wyoming, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2. Junior Jullie Cach said that she enjoyed having the trip before school started because it taught her important skills, like collaboration and persistence, that she will carry into her junior year.

“It was a great transition into junior year because it just made my mind clear before school started,” Cach said. “I think junior year is going to be the time you get a little stressed, but once we think back about everything we learned in Arrow Week — about how to take time for ourselves and how to trudge through everything — I think that’s a great reminder for junior year.” 

The faculty and I really wanted to make sure that students were coming back with a greater sense of normalcy and less uncertainty… It’s just super important that students can come here and feel safe.

— Elizabeth English, Head of School

The senior class went on Fall Outing for two nights as the annual Senior Retreat from Aug. 29 to  Aug. 31. They attended a College Jumpstart meeting Sept. 2, where they heard from English, Director of College Guidance Ivan Hauck and College Guidance Coordinator Marla Terry about how to prepare for the upcoming college application process.

“One thing that was different about this year [compared to] other years that we’ve been at Archer is that we did not watch Ms. English’s opening remarks to the year along with all of our Archer sisters from other grades,” senior Lucy Brodsky said. “We did not get to see the other grades react to Ms. English’s speech, but, on the other hand, we did get a more personalized speech for our grade.” 

Sixth graders also attended Fall Outing at Will Rogers, and the eighth grade did an urban scavenger hunt in Grand Park. Seventh graders also attended Fall Outing and orientation before school started. At orientation, they walked through their class schedules and heard from English about the theme of the year, which is grace.

“Ms. English told us a story about how when she was in seventh grade, she was mean to a girl about her hairstyle,” seventh grader Jackie Mayne said. “And then the girl later extended grace to her by forgiving her, and I think that’s a good story to tell, especially because we’re seventh graders.”  

English said the theme for the year reflects students re-adjusting to the pace of in-person school and Archer’s commitment to restorative justice, as grace is necessary to hold students accountable while also bringing the “right spirit” into the room where both people are willing to work together.

“I just think that there’s a fundamental lack of grace right now in our society. People make mistakes. They’re human. And what hope is there if you never have the chance to repair or fix or learn from your mistakes?” English said. “Now, they don’t have any interest in hearing you… so I just think it’s a very counterproductive thing. I think there are ways to raise people’s consciousness without alienating them. And that requires grace.”