5th Grade Kindness Retreat

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44

At New Life Academy, we teach daily about the fruit of the Spirit and the importance of loving your neighbor. As our students grow and learn, they are equipped to become more like Jesus. For our 5th grade class, this led to an exciting new tradition that began in 2023: The Kindness Retreat!

The 5th Grade Kindness Retreat is a day full of worship, reflection, impactful messages, games, and small groups led by high schoolers. The day is designed to help students become more intentional about their words and actions as they finish 5th Grade and transition to Middle School. 5th Grade teachers Mr. Arend, Mrs. Berbereia, and Ms. Bottolfson played huge roles in organizing this day and tailoring it specifically for the students in their classes to connect with God and one another.

This year’s Kindness Retreat featured a special surprise from former Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins! Check out the video below:

One of the most impactful moments for students was during a big circle activity when they thanked or apologized to their peers and teachers. 5th Grade teacher Mrs. Berbereia shared, “I love this part because it gives the students time to take what they heard the speakers talk about and the practice they had in their small groups and put it into action.”

Students shared sentiments such as “Thank you for being a great friend when I needed one” and “I’d like to say sorry for hurting your feelings.” It was a beautiful moment that allowed space for the Holy Spirit to move in these students’ lives.

While I love the entire day, my favorite part of the Kindness Retreat is the culminating segment when students publicly thank and apologize to classmates and staff. Hearing students ask for forgiveness and champion others that have been kind to them brings out some big emotions and often tears of joy!

5th Grade Teacher, Mr. Arend

We pray that students can strengthen their relationships, reflect on their behaviors and choices, seek forgiveness from those they have wronged, experience joy in spreading Jesus’ kindness,  and feel immersed in the kindness of our awesome God!

The 5th Grade Kindness Retreat is an incredible example of the mission of New Life Academy and the way our teachers prioritize developing students spiritually, emotionally, and academically.

Note from the 5th Grade teachers: We owe special thanks to Principal Dan Palkki’s constant support, Academy Worship’s inspirational music (Luke Bostrom and Scott Kent), the leadership provided by Upper School student leaders, Ben Gathje for making the day extra special with Culver’s delicious food, Sam Pederson for the unbelievable tech support, Sharon Kolb for helping us to organize the special day, the custodial staff for setting up the Worship Center so we could make the day action-packed, and to our guest speakers for helping students to create a path to a deeper relationship with Christ and their peers (Dan Palkki, Matt Nylin, Ty Berbereia).