LFA community brought together: All School Handshake and Freshman Retreat

Adriana Rivera, Op-Ed Managing Editor

Students on the freshman retreat participate in team building activities.
Football friends Nicky Mesrobian and Evan Olson reunite at the All School Handshake.
Students share hugs with close friends at the All School Handshake.   

   One of the most special elements of Lake Forest Academy is the small-knit community everyone shares. The community, made up of about 450 students and many faculty members, is truly a small one: and with that size factor comes a sizeable benefit that not many schools can relate to. People at LFA know one another, students are not strangers passing through the hallway. The faculty’s days do not end at three o’clock like most teachers’ do. Teachers and students watch soccer games together and talk about their favorite movies. LFA is more than just a school, it’s a community; and part of what makes LFA so special are its events, such as the All School Handshake and freshman retreat where individuals become familiar with one another and are able to build new relationships.

  The All School Handshake takes place on the first day of school every year. All 400+ members of the community go into the formal gardens and line up, each person hoping they’d chosen the side of the line that will finish the quickest. After Dr. Strudwick tosses a coin in the air to determine which side first, the line begins to snake around the formal gardens. As people are shaking hands with one another: old students seeing old friends, new students meeting new people, and new teachers getting to know the community; smiles, laughs and brief statements of “good luck in the new year” are shared.

  “The All School Handshake is a great time to see your old friends but also to meet new people. It’s also a really good time to engage with the community, and without the All School Handshake LFA just wouldn’t be the same,” said Senior Nathaniel Barnes, who transferred to LFA as a junior.

  Although Nathaniel has only gone through two All School Handshakes, he’d been able to recognize and cherish the importance this tradition upholds in the community. It truly is a moment every year many students look forward to as it sets a positive and welcoming foundation for each upcoming school year.

  Another tradition that is newer at LFA is the freshman retreat. For the past two years the whole freshman class has taken a retreat during the end of preseason. This retreat, lasting three days, brings together the new members of the freshman class for the first time, as many of them don’t know one another going into it. While on the retreat, the freshmen participate in team building activities such as a trust fall.

  “[The freshman retreat] was  a great way to meet new people!” stated Rosie, a freshman at LFA.

  Similar to the All School Handshake, the freshman retreat encourages the building of new relationships and allows students to become more familiar with one another. Such activities have impacted LFA in a positive way and will continue to do so in future years to come.