Freshman Retreats: NDA Tradition Good for Freshmen, Good for Upperclass Leaders


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

February marks the time for many exciting events at Notre Dame Academy, including, but not limited to, Tritonfest, solo and ensemble competition, basketball playoffs and the freshman retreat.

Once again, every student at the academy has experienced this retreat, which is a major turning point for the underclassmen.

The retreat is primarily designed to connect the freshman class and introduce them to the classmates they have not met yet.

“The retreat is an opportunity to reset and maybe branch out to other students from their class,” said Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl, the primary mind behind the planning of the retreat, in explaining why it is held in the second semester. “The goal is to attempt to connect the freshmen to one another and connect them with their faith.”

This year, the girls retreat was February 7 with the boys the very next day. The retreats were in place before Kriegl became a part of the academy, but since then he has tweaked the activities.

“We try to empower them to see the sacred dignity in themselves and in one another. Our slogan is ‘I am Sacred, We are Sacred,’” Kriegl said.

Activities include discussions within small groups led by upperclassmen as well as “Witness Talks” in which students and teachers share how NDA has empowered them to be their best selves.

“I felt like it was an amazing way to connect with the school’s future,” said Theo VanStraten, a retreat leader. “I hope that the future upperclassmen learn from our high school experiences and use that to improve NDA’s future.”

Maya Filon, one of the girl’s retreat leaders, agreed with Van Straten.

“I wanted to be a retreat leader because I still remember my own retreat from freshman year and how they gave me a lot of insight on high school, and I thought it would be fun to do the same for girls this year.”

Filon, a junior, encourages underclassmen to consider being a leader in the future. “It’s a unique way to help and connect to the younger grades, and it would never hurt to apply.”

As for the freshmen, the retreat was a new learning experience. Allison Lamm shared her favorite parts of the day. “I especially liked the stories Ms. Griffith and the upperclassmen shared. The retreat definitely gave me an extra boost of confidence.”

Despite all the talk of success, Kriegl is always looking for ways to improve the retreats and encourages anyone to come to him with questions or concerns.