12th Graders Start the 2014-15 School Year with a New Senior Retreat

NLA’s aim is to cultivate graduates who are authentic Christ followers, Spirit-driven individuals, accomplished learners, and wise leaders. To further develop that, the class of 2015 started the year out a bit differently than previous senior classes at New Life Academy. The seniors spent a short weekend retreat at Camp Lebanon together as a class to kick-off the start to the school year. The goal of this retreat was to reflect, bond, build leadership, and set goals.

“We believe that investing time at the start of the year with our seniors prepares them to lead the school year,” said Lynn Atkinson, secondary principal at New Life Academy. “We focused on three things. First, ‘What is the role of a senior?’ Second, ‘What is leaving a legacy?’ and third, ‘What is a personal faith,’” he said.

The seniors participated in sessions and were challenged in their faith by Atkinson, secondary principal; Cade Lambert, head of school; and Lawrence Simmons, head of the Bible department. Students also participated in fun team challenges and were accompanied by teachers Marquette Bateman-Ek, head of the Fine Arts department, and Heidi Louwsma, social studies teacher. “We hope that this group of seniors has the chance to make their senior year one that sees them unified as class, and also sets a great example to the younger students,” said Louwsma. Louwsma said that the younger students look up to the older students at the school, and that what the older students do is often mimicked by the younger ones.

Bonfire during Senior Retreat at New Life Academy

“As a parent, I loved the idea of the seniors getting away to start the year off on a good note,” said Kirsten Wynia, mother of senior Jake Wynia. “It was a great way to ensure the kids were focused at the start of the year and had a chance to reconnect and rest.”

“The seniors bonded by spending time together and repairing relationships that needed to be repaired,” Atkinson said.

Wynia said her son learned to not wait until it’s too late, to have no regrets, and to live life right. “I think we will continue to see the benefits of the weekend as the year goes on,” Wynia said.