A Shabba-fun Way to Kick Off the School Year

Sophomores Esther Gordon and Coco Deleef on the sophomores Shabbaton.

Sophomores Esther Gordon and Coco Deleef on the sophomore’s Shabbaton.

Reuben Kessler, Reporter

Students are welcomed back with many changes to one of Emery’s longest-lasting traditions. The Shabbaton has been a staple of the new year for Emery high schoolers for years. However, with the help of Emery’s director of experiential education, Casey Fleming, much has changed about the beloved retreats due to the complications and cancellations brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The weekend before the first day of school, the freshmen gathered as a class for the first time at Mo Ranch. They got to know the classmates that will be with them for the next four years and explored their grade’s essential question, which was “where are we?” as it pertains to life, high school, and the retreat itself.  Included within this question is: navigating new situations inside and outside of the Emery classrooms. 

The sophomores traveled to Lutherhill Camp and Retreat from Aug. 19-21. They learned about expanding their respective social and personal circles through the overarching theme of the question: Where have we been? The Sophomore students enjoyed this opportunity to learn about social bubbles, one student, Alex Levy, remarked that  “the diverse social opportunities allowed me to become comfortable with my new teachers and get closer to classmates.”

The juniors set out to Camp Allen during that same weekend. Juniors were pondering the question: where are we going? Relating to their outlook on the future and becoming leaders at Emery. Students got the opportunity to hike, participate in team-building exercises, and continue the tradition of watching the movie Crash, centered on racial and social justice. Juniors enjoyed the opportunity to connect. “It was a bonding experience for our grade… I grew closer with the people in my advisory during our activities,” said an 11th-grade student. 

The seniors began their journey into high school with a Shabbaton at Camp Young Judaea Texas (CYJ) during their freshman year and got the chance to conclude their high school retreats in the same location. The students enjoyed swimming, climbing the ropes course, and gathering for Shabbat. Despite spending an immense amount of time with each other over the years, the senior class rekindled relationships with one another after the long summer. Senior Ezra Key-Cohen excitedly exclaimed, “I enjoyed the free time we had to explore and talk to people I don’t usually interact with.” While on the trip, they investigated the statement: “Here I am.” Unlike other grades, the theme of the senior class makes an observation rather than asking a question, as well as saying “I” rather than the typical “We.” This is signifying the fact that 12th graders understand they are soon going to no longer be a part of the Emery community. 

During Shabbaton, Emery students gained the opportunity to reunite with their respective grade levels and spend a weekend participating in exciting activities with one another. With the many new changes to the trips, introduced by Ms. Fleming, it was an exciting way to kick off the new year.