On their second day of school, the entire Grade 11 class took part in an Outdoor Orientation Day at Sidney Spit, a Gulf Islands National Park located just off Sidney.
The weather was beautiful, with the sun against a bright blue sky and a nice wind blowing.
Having to arrive at school by 7:50 a.m.was a great back-to-school wake-up call! Almost everybody had a cup of coffee, or maybe two or three, and within half an hour, the students were chattering away, happy to be back in touch with their friends.
Over the summer, many students worked summer jobs, the most popular being lifeguarding and swim instructing. Many students also spent the summer preparing for Grade 11, whether it be doing online courses (the most popular being Physics through SIDES) or summer school. Some students just used the break to recharge and spent a lot of time pursuing their hobbies, whether it be a sport or reading.
Some students pointed out that transitioning back to school was not only a mental challenge, but also a physical one, as many had trouble adjusting to a 6:00 a.m. wake-up and 12:20 lunch. During the summer, some students started their days at 12:00 p.m. and had lunch (or more accurately “linner” or “dunch”) at 3:00 p.m.
There were a few new students, but after a few awkward icebreaker games, everybody found somebody to talk to. The goal of the day was to build community, and the teachers had put lots of effort into designing activities that would encourage students to have conversations with people outside their usual friend group. The goal was to help strengthen and make new connections.
Upon our arrival at the spit, we were thrown into community-building activities, starting with either a competitive game of Camouflage or a water relay race. These all-inclusive games strengthened the ties between students, and by the end, everybody felt more comfortable working with somebody that they didn’t normally interact with.
At the end of the day, everybody was exhausted, but the teachers had one last surprise in store.
Since we are IB students, a school day is never really complete without a reflection. We were tasked to contemplate how we would approach the year ahead of us. Overall, the general mentality was that everybody was excited but perhaps more nervous, as we had all heard that Grade 11 is the hardest year overall. Nonetheless, everybody agreed that they would put their best foot forward and do the best they could. However, while walking through the forest on Sidney Spit, we had to come up with a “how.”
At the end of our walk, even though not many had not come up with a concrete plan, we all turned to our peers to discuss, relying on the strengthened connections that we had made during the day.