Seniors Bond at Retreat

Career Center seniors team building
By: Todd Martin
Seniors from an untraditional high school spent a day in the outdoors Wednesday to learn more about one another and build stronger bonds of friendship.
A group of 50 all-day seniors from the Killeen ISD Career Center took part in team-building activities at Variety’s Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children south of Killeen.
Working in three groups, the students strategized to move team members across a rope maze between trees. They also competed in scooter relays, tried their hand at archery and ate lunch together at the retreat lodge.
Most of the more than 1,700 Career Center students choose to attend a morning or an afternoon session and spend the rest of the day at a traditional high school campus. A few, though, make the choice to stay at the career-focused high school all day.
“We want to build relationships and create memories,” said school counselor Shatilya Brooks. “This is something different for them and it challenges them to get out of their comfort zones.”
Looking over the low-ropes challenge called “The Pirate Ship,” some students obviously were not excited. Stepping out onto a hammock-like swing made of rope can be difficult, or worse, embarrassing.
Students had to work together deciding which ones would complete the course first and which ones could stay back and be among the last ones across. They urged each other on.
“It’s fun. We’re doing team-building exercises,” said senior Bailey Greene, part of the school’s automotive technology program. “I think this helps us form a student body. It’s fun to see everyone encouraging each other.”
Career Center students maintain their identity with their home campus and eventually graduate from that home campus even as they invest in programs at the Career Center like video game design, welding and health sciences, to name a few.
The seniors also discussed with counselors the school’s efforts to start their first student council this year.
“We’re learning to work together,” said senior Madeline Betts, a commercial photography student at the Career Center. “We’re getting to bond with those we don’t even know.”
Some of the students, she said, were pretty sure the day would be boring. “It’s a lot more fun than we thought,” she said.
“It’s showing us that we shouldn’t be scared to talk to others and to get help when we need it,” Betts said.
“These students have chosen to be all-day students at the Career Center,” Brooks said. “I hope they come out of this feeling they are part of something bigger, that they learn who they are with and they are not just passing in the hall.”
“In this one, we have to support each other,” Greene said of the ropes course. “It shows you have to be positive with each other or the ropes can fall out from under you.”