ACS Middle School students participated in the annual house retreats at the end of September to develop relationships outside of the classroom. “The purpose of the retreats is to create space and time for our students to create significant bonds between themselves and teachers,” explained Middle School Principal Phil Wendel. “We know that learning occurs when the learner feels comfortable and connected, and the retreats are designed to help students feel more comfortable with their peers as well as with the adults in our learning community.”
The tradition started in 2006 and has since become a cornerstone to the start of the Middle School year. The six Middle School houses — Titians, Wizards, Indricks, Dragons, Griffins, and Phoenix — each explore a different part of the country. Locations this year included Maison de la Forêt in Bkassine, Mount Smash in Faraya, Shangri-La in Laklouk, Snow Land in Kanat Backich, Auberge Arc en Ciel in Maasser el Chouf, and Sun City Resort in Ajaltoun.
The students embarked on the overnight adventure in their houses, which consists of a mix of 35 students in grades 6 to 8 and six teachers. The goal of the house system is for students to make connections across grade levels, not just with their circle of friends, and to prevent relational aggression that can occur during this development stage of pre-adolescence (10-14 yrs. old). When students get to know each other, share experiences, laugh and confront challenges together, a sense of mutual respect occurs that creates a positive learning environment.
As Phil explained, “Often, teachers will comment that their relationships have shifted with students in a positive manner after the retreats.” This year’s retreats were once again successful and it is clear that this tradition helps start the school year off on the right foot for both students and faculty alike.