This weekend the junior class saw hope for the future.
During their first shabbaton since 9th grade, the Hebrew Academy 11th grade bonded in Miami Beach by taking part in various activities that emphasized teamwork. According to most juniors, unity has been a struggle for the class throughout their high school career.
“We never thought we could be together as a whole class,” said Tehila Moore (11th). “We thought we would kill one another. Turns out we can actually have fun together.”
To kick off the weekend, the class and staff members went to the Ninja Lounge where they took part in competitive activities designed to encourage teamwork and communication skills.
“The trip to Ninja Lounge definitely made an impact on our class because we did specific games that helped us develop a sense of unity and friendship,” said Caleb Katz (11th).
Despite the differences in personalities and friends, the junior class bonded over the excitement of beating each other at relay races and defeating the staff at dodgeball.
“People who usually don’t talk worked together to accomplish a task” said Yael Bramy (11th), “It was interesting watching them interact.”
On Friday night after prayers and a delicious dinner, Rabbi Ney started an activity involving personality types. The students split themselves into groups based on how they view their communication techniques: direct, reserved, analytical, or friendly/kind. Each group discussed the benefits and inherent negatives in their method of communication. Through this activity, the juniors learned the significance of conveying their thoughts and opinions in different styles. Each person responds differently to direct, reserved, analytical, or friendly/kind communication, and it is important to understand this before speaking.
The next morning after davening and kiddush, the students were split into small groups and given an aspect of leadership exemplified by Jewish role models, such as Moshe and David. By learning how to be a leader and what characteristics are important, the juniors found that the capability of unifying a group becomes stronger.
To end off Shabbat, the grade had seudat shlishit at the Wolfson’s. The class sat in a circle on the grass singing shabbat songs. Then, the juniors related their feelings on high school and their hopes for the future.
“I feel like during this shabbaton, we all realized that we are graduating in a a year and a half,” said Michal Cohen (11th). “After that, we won’t be seeing each other everyday. It’ll be so weird. This class is my family.”
After Shabbat, the juniors hopped on a bus to Escape the Room. The class was split into two teams and put into two different rooms where they were tasked to find different objects that would give them clues. These clues helped them solve puzzles which gave them the location of a key that would let them out of the room. Natural leaders rose to the challenge and each person knew where they were needed in order to complete the puzzles. Both teams finished in 50 minutes, cutting it close, as they would have been disqualified after another 10 minutes. By working together and finding a spot for everyone, the students learned the importance of communication when under pressure.
Over the course of Shabbat, the Juniors came together in a way that they had not before. However, upon returning to school, it did not seem as if anything changed.
“I don’t think you can tell right away how effective it was,” said Director of Student Activities Rabbi Ney. “It seemed effective, but only time will tell.”
The shabbaton showed the juniors the importance of unity, but now it is their turn to take it upon themselves to take the extra step of it becoming an everyday reality.
By: Rina Reich (11th Grade)