Summer 2013
Sustainable Community

Away They Go

Class Trips Foster Class Continuity

Class trips are an integral part of the Prep experience—they offer a chance for students to bond with their classmates and teachers away from campus, classes and homework.

Michael Roffina, director of human development, says it best: “It’s good for the students to be away from campus, learning about each other and growing as a class. It breaks down some of the personal and social boundaries.”

He adds, “The class trips create a meaningful time together that allows the class to become the class.”

Each trip varies in location and purpose.From Santa Barbara to Big Bear,
Catalina and at home in La Cañada, students surf, rock climb, hike and volunteer in the community. But they also participate in team-building exercises and get-to-know-you activities. Students talk with each other and faculty about academics, extracurriculars and expectations, and they look back, as well as ahead. The trips and their activities are specifically tailored to each grade level—faculty and administrators have worked to develop an experience that fits the needs of the students at their respective academic and social stages.

In middle school, class trips are opportunities for students to get to know one another and their teachers, as well as to learn about the core valuesof the school.

Seventh Grade Dean Betty Urban says that on the 7th grade trip, held early in the year, students get to meet and interact with the whole class.

“They become comfortable as a class,” she says.

Ari Brattkus ’18 remembers, “The 7th grade trip was a great time to bond with all these people you just met. It was a nice change of pace.”

Nicholas Davis ’18 agrees, “After the trip we were all better friends than when it started.”

Prep for Life

The 8th grade trip comes toward the end of the year, when the middle school students are starting to contemplate high school. Roffina says the faculty taps into that curiosity to further the conversation about what lies ahead.

“It’s a special time to talk about the junior high to high school transition, where you balance academics, sports, drama, music and community service, all while academic expectations are going up,” he says.

The 8th grade year sees students through an important evolution, according to former 8th Grade Dean Peter Chesney ’04.

“We are working on their development as human beings, from working with their teachers to recognizing their own misbehavior and selfcorrecting it before it gets out of hand,” Chesney says.

On the trip, students continue this dialogue and further develop their class bond.

“The 8th grade trip is the last time for them to be together as a class before their class doubles,” he says. “We talk about being welcoming but still maintaining the class identity they’ve created.”

Lauren Montes ’17 explains, “We all became friends in the 7th grade, but this year we really got to know each other.”

The 9th grade trip comes early in the year, serving as an opportunity for the newly doubled class members to get to know one another, says 9th Grade Dean Barrett Jamison.

Prep for Life

“The 9th grade trip is largely meant to get all the students integrated right away,” he says. “Students who started in 7th grade learn quickly that the new kids enrich their existing friend groups, and incoming 9th graders learn to be comfortable with the whole class.”

The 10th grade trip stands out—it’s the only class trip that is not overnight. Tenth Grade Dean Dan Hare says the retreat centers on big-picture planning for the future. Students are embarking on their years as upperclassmen, and the time away from campus focuses on planning and goal setting for the next two years. There are intensive meetings in small groups with junior teachers, who talk with students about expectations, academics and the upcoming college counseling program.

Although college counselors review junior year schedules, at the retreat the focus is on “promoting advance planning by students,” Hare says. “It starts osmosis in them. It’s a time to be self-reflective, both as individuals and as a class. They begin to strategize and to see that they can start to take charge and go after what, and who, they want to be.”

The junior class trip falls at the endof the 11th grade year and is heavily focused on what lies ahead. Says 11th Grade Dean Katie Canton, “It’s about reflection on what their high school experience has been, and it’s about challenging them to think about how they want to complete the puzzle.”

The students take the 11th grade trip very seriously—they talk about what they want to get out of their senior year and what they want their legacy to be. The juniors read letters they wrote to themselves in 9th grade, some privately and some with friends, and then they write themselves a letter for the upcoming year that they will read, add to and edit throughout their time as seniors. It’s a time to reflect on the future, and also the past—a time to let go of regrets and to look forward.

“It’s a significant moment,” Canton points out.

Finally, the senior class trip comesat a highly reflective time. Students are ready to look ahead, but they’re also clinging to their last days as high school students. The trip brings about thoughtful reminiscing, but students are also reminded that they will never truly leave Prep behind.

Prep for Life

Tyke O’Brien, 12th grade dean, says the senior trip is a great bridge between the end of senior year and commencement ceremonies.

“After the trip, it feels like you’ve gone through a sort of final bonding,” she says. “It’s a sort of icing on the cake, and there’s a sense of closure as you’re approaching graduation.”

The trip culminates in the memorable Pine Cone Ceremony, held on the last night, at which the class gets to be with teachers and coaches to reminisce about their time at Prep.

“It’s always moving to hear seniors express a love for their classmates and an appreciation for their teachers, “ says Director of Admissions Art Stetson, who goes on the senior class trip to see the culmination of his work of building a class four to six years prior. “Teacherstalk about the students, about having them in their lives. It shows me what the kids have learned, in and out of the classroom. They’ve become independent, responsible and compassionate; they are grown up, they are moving on.”

And though they’re moving on, the seniors leave with an assurance that they have a lifelong community of friends and mentors who will always bethere for them.

O’Brien says, “There’s a sense of certitude that we are a family and that we continue on as a community past graduation.”

by Bailey Shiffler