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8th Grade Strengthens Their Tight-Knit Bond at 2023 Leadership Retreat

8th Grade Strengthens Their Tight-Knit Bond at 2023 Leadership Retreat
Christina Coffman

Every year during the first month of school, the 8th graders participate in the annual Leadership Retreat. Mr. Nickell, 8th Grade Homeroom Teacher and Sponsor, plans and designs the details of the two-day event and says, “The Leadership Retreat is a chance for the 8th graders at Highlands to get together and do something for the school. It also gives us the opportunity to learn to trust and respect each other as a full grade and as one group.” 


Part I: Collaborate in Escape Room

They kicked off the retreat with an off-campus adventure to a local Escape Room. 8th grader Damon says, "The escape room tested some people's patience and provided a fun team-building challenge." 8th grader Lucy adds, “The Escape Room helped us work together and build our grade. It also allowed us to rely on certain individual’s strengths while building others’. You can look at the Escape Room as an overview of our year. It’s going to be a bunch of strengths combined to create one big team.” 



Part II: Set Goals and Build Teamwork

After a team lunch, they spent some time setting goals. Mr. Nickell says, “Over the course of two days, we focus on togetherness and making sure we, as a grade and sponsor, have a common set of goals and expectations for how we interact with each other.” Then, Ms. McCool, Dean of Students, led them in team-building activities on the quad. 



Part III: Host Carnival for Younger Peers

For the second day of the retreat, they focused on an act of service to our school; this year it was a carnival for the students in 1st – 3rd grades. They planned, set up, and ran the carnival with developmentally appropriate games/activities. 1st Grade Teacher Ms. Horton remarks, “The 1st-3rd grade students had a great time at the Leadership Carnival and were led by stellar students. We appreciate the time and energy spent making connections and creating an experience they will remember.” 8th grader John says the carnival was his favorite part of the retreat; “I enjoyed the teamwork in planning the carnival. It was very student-led and really fun. Knowing how to work together is a great tool that will help us now and as we go throughout life.” 


Schuyler, 8th grader, agrees! “The retreat was a success because we got closer as a group. 8th grade is full of leadership opportunities and with a tight-knit group like our grade, we’ll be more successful when we work together.” Throughout the Leadership Retreat, we witnessed the students partaking in conversations where every voice was heard as they spent time reflecting and collaborating. This group of 15 students had a meaningful retreat experience that strengthened their bond as a class that will only serve them well as they continue to make their mark on campus. 

  • Middle School