Upper School students at University School of Milwaukee enjoyed several days off campus for the annual grade-level retreats. School faculty and administrators worked hard to ensure that all students participated in meaningful and impactful activities in a safe setting.
Participants enjoyed a wide variety of experiences throughout southeastern Wisconsin, including a scavenger hunt in downtown Milwaukee, ropes courses, survival training activities, and more. Sophomores, whose advising theme for the year is “reaching out,” spent part of their retreat participating in service projects at three locations in Milwaukee: Hunger Task Force, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and Urban Ecology Center.
The themes for the retreats varied amongst the grade levels, but all were designed to help students build a sense of community amongst their classmates, foster leadership, step out of their comfort zones, and engage in self-reflection. “At USM, we actively work to build a community where people care for each other, help each other, and commit to a life of inquiry, service, and learning,” said Dean of Students Charlie Housiaux ’02. “One of the first steps towards accomplishing this goal is for students to share common experiences, which is a key component of the retreats. Each grade level will build upon those shared experiences throughout the whole school year.”
The school did not hold retreats last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s retreats were modified to account for social distancing and other mitigation efforts. Despite these challenges, it was a meaningful and worthwhile experience.
“The grade-level retreats could not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our class deans: Jean Plum (9th grade), Sue Baker (10th grade), Jenny Mielke (11th grade), and Sarah Titus ’00 (12th grade),” said Housiaux. “They, along with our advisors, created and managed these experiences with vision and hard work.”