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  • Alexa Muchnick

Seniors celebrate their class in pre-graduation getaway

American White Water Expeditions in action, the rafting company that the senior will be using.

Before walking graduation with cap and gown, the seniors will have one last hurrah on a three day camping, white water rafting, and bonding experience. Erik Olson, Dean of Co-Curricular Education, outlines the itinerary: “On Wednesday, May 17 at 1:00 pm, Seniors will depart from Douglas Hall, arriving at a campground just outside Placerville, CA for dinner. Seniors will camp Wednesday and Thursday night with organized activities offered in the evening after dinner both nights. Thursday will be spent on the American River guided by American Whitewater Expeditions (AWE). AWE will provide tents, sleeping mats, meals, and transportation to and from the rafting locations. We will begin our return to campus on the morning of Friday, May 19, stopping at Folsom Lake State Park for a lunchtime BBQ before arriving back to campus at about 6:00 pm. Seniors will have time Friday night to rest before Saturday and Sunday graduation events.”

The class of 2023 on their own 9th grade retreat.

While the trip should be fun, Olson explains why it is mandatory: “The trip is not optional. We want the entire class to participate as we think it is important to have this closure together. Similar to freshman retreat (required), senior dinner, baccalaureate, and senior transition classes. It is all part of the program. Not to mention there is nothing planned for seniors here on campus during those three days.”

Despite a fun-sounding line up, many seniors wish they had a say in the trip. One senior explains why they wish Disney would work: “Disney would be fun. I feel like it is also pretty realistic because LA is not too far. We could take a bus down. I understand that last year seniors didn’t sign up, but we still should have been given the option or asked. Additionally, if cost was an issue for students, it would have been a lot less expensive if the school contributed whatever they paid for the current trip to Disneyland. Then students would need to contribute a lot less.”

However, Olson recognizes that seniors want to be with their close friends, so they will have some say in who they spend their time with: “Seniors will have some input into their bus and tent assignments. raft groups will be put together on the morning of the rafting experience.” Additionally, as fun as Disneyland sounds for the seniors, Olson explains the challenges and logic behind the decision: “The Disney Land trip has not happened for years because the park does not open for senior nights during our senior week which is why the destination had changed to Magic Mountain. The last Magic Mountain trip had less than one-third of the class sign up because either seniors did not want to be out all night or felt it was too expensive. The trip no longer served the purpose of offering a senior class culminating experience.”

With Disney out of the question, Olson explains how the trip destination was decided: “For some time we have been looking to find an outdoor experience that the entire senior class could participate in and was accessible to everyone. We have experience working with American Whitewater Expeditions and have had very successful trips with them in the spring. One thing we have looked to do is a retreat with the seniors that would complement the ninth-grade retreat experience. This rafting experience is a way for the entire class to participate in something special as a class where they can both celebrate their time together over the last four years and reflect upon that experience. Being outside, away from technology, off campus, and in a place to have a more intimate experience made sense. Rafting fits the bill.” Furthermore, Olson explains that rather than giving the current senior class any say, administration discussed trip ideas with recent alumni: “We did not solicit input from this year's senior class about picking the trip but we did take into account alumni and their feedback about what would be a better way to end the year. In other words, we did not come up with this out of thin air and not without considering past senior experiences and what they would do differently.”

An image of the class of 2023 in action on their 9th grade retreat, highlighting the full circle moment Olson is hoping for


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