After having been postponed a few weeks due to a snowstorm in February, the sophomore retreat finally took place towards the end of March. While the juniors at IHA took the ACT exam and the seniors had a day off, the sophomores enjoyed a day of spiritual growth and became aware of social justice issues in their community.
After the sophomores reported to homeroom at the usual time for attendance to be taken, they moved to the PAC and separated into four groups for the duration of the day. Afterwards, an opening video was played to start the retreat. The opening video prompted the students to reflect and think about how their actions of service towards others could be the answer to someone’s prayers. Afterwards, Mrs. Shutrop gave a few opening words, helping the students to open their eyes to the prevalent struggles that people in the world face and how they are all called to help.
Mrs. Shutrop stated, “The sophomore day of awareness is so important because our job at IHA is to educate the whole woman. By virtue of the academic rigor of the school, you girls will be the next doctors, lawyers, CEO’s teachers, school administrators, moms etc. It’s so important that the women who will hold those positions in the future have a heart for the poor, because if you don’t take care of them who will?”
There were several stations set up throughout the IHA building, each with the purpose of informing students on how they can make a difference when it comes to these particular social justice issues.
One of the four stations was “Homeless, not Hopeless,” and rose awareness for the Midnight Run and how widespread homelessness is in New York City. Dale Williams, the Executive Director of Midnight Run, gave a talk to the students on his experience with Midnight Run and how he initially became involved. After his speech, students helped make an impact on the cause by packing toiletry kits to be used on a future Midnight Run.
Another station, “In Despair, Hope,” focused on mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies and are in need of resources and a community to talk to. The session began with Jen Edwards first sharing her story of her own crisis pregnancy, and how her journey had inspired her to open a shelter for mothers in need. Students helped to make a difference in the cause by making small gifts for mothers.
Furthermore, there was a session from Camp Acorn, a well-known place among IHA girls for service projects. This session opened the eyes of the IHA students, and emphasized how they are called to use their resources and passions to help the community around them. Afterwards, the students created and decorated cards for Camp Acorn campers.
One of the most informative stations for IHA students was “Seeking Refuge,” which gave students insight into the global refugee crisis happening in the world, and what the refugee process is like. Meaghan Touhey-Kay, an immigration lawyer, provided an informative description that enlightened the sophomore students at IHA. To help the cause, students put together “Stamp out Despair” folders that included writing supplies for detainees to write to friends and family back home. As well as creating these folders, each student wrote an encouraging letter to a detainee.
Emily Ash, a sophomore at IHA, commented, “The retreat really opened my eyes to what is going on in our world. The homeless people I see or even people struggling to get into the country all have a story that they are just waiting to tell.” Ash continued, “I now see that service and the generosity of others is what some people need to get by in their lives, service is not about the amount of hours we can get done but about what impact we have on the people we are trying to help.”
After each of the four groups attended each of the stations, they all reunited in the PAC for a closing video and a few closing words. All in all, the sophomore retreat was an extremely informative day for the sophomore class. It helped each of the students to not merely view their service hours as a requirement, but helped each of them to realize that by doing service they are building a better community and how their call to service may be the answer to the needs of someone who is need.
By Bernadette Goratowski’19, Photography Editor