While this year’s on-campus Junior Leadership Retreat (JLR) wasn’t much of a “retreat,” it was productive nonetheless. The JLR is an annual program that invites the current junior class to spend a night at Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charleston, Massachusetts. Over the course of a day, juniors participate in team-building activities, leadership workshops, and discussions about individual, class, and school goals for the forthcoming school year. Previous JLRs have spawned Concord Academy traditions like Red and Blue Day. 

This year’s JLR looked a little different than it has in years past. Due to safety concerns, the event was hosted on campus instead of in Charleston. Instead of the normal overnight trip, administrators attempted to replicate the experience in a shorter six-hour program Unfortunately, not every member of the junior class was able to attend, with 15 members of the class being fully virtual. 

Juniors arrived on campus at 3:00 p.m. to start the program. They were then broken up into five groups, each led by a member of the CA administration and an employee of Project Adventure, a team-building organization. Each group then spent about two hours participating in outdoor team-building activities and games. During that time, each junior also found out their leadership style after placing themselves on a spectrum of personality. The first half of the event concluded at 5:30 p.m. with Chipotle catering for dinner. 

The second half of the event was much more student-led, as each group met to discuss plans for the upcoming school year. Juniors spent about two hours brainstorming new ideas to improve the CA community. A large portion of the discussion was about traditions and cultural anecdotes from pre-COVID CA that they were looking to preserve – from common trust to seniors shouting “Go to school!” at Announcements. The discussions were thoughtful critiques on CA, especially in the midst of a pandemic and semi-virtual year. Each group was tasked with coming up with 10 new ideas which would then be presented to the grade.

All five groups then congregated in the PAC to share what they had come up with. A few presenters from each group walked up to the stage to read off their list and explain what they had come up with. Ideas were met with cheers and claps, laughs and snaps. Some standouts included freshman pen-pals, a CA/Middlesex/CCHS fair, final schedule amendments, and Diversity Office reforms. 

Overall, the event was a success. For many, it brought back nostalgia for a pre-COVID CA whose memory had been slowly fading from their minds. For others, it served as a reminder of the blank slate of a year that the current juniors will soon be embarking on. They were excited to send off CA’s centennial year and usher in a new century of love of learning, hug lines, and lost and found emails.