Brooks Bonding (at Its Most Fun!)

A day before schoolwork started, students got to enjoy a day of activities with their class. And while it was a lot of fun, it wasn't all (silly) games. Each workshop was designed specifically to help students get closer to each other — and to their goals.

All the classes kicked off their activities on Thursday morning:

  • Third formers headed off campus to Beverly, Mass. for five hours of outdoor challenges and team building at Project Adventure, Inc.
  • The fourth and fifth form remained at Brooks for physical and mental challenges, courtesy of Grit 'n Wit.
  • The sixth form, meanwhile, focused on college during Brooks' College Counseling Office's "Jumpstart" program.

"I think it's really important for the students to disconnect, put their phones away and be with each other and be present," said Dean of Community Life Ashley Johnston about the annual tradition of an activity day by form right at the start of school. "The activity day also allows students to be in a space that's safe, where they can be goofy and do something that's fun and silly and try new things and not feel like they're going to be judged by their peers."

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Class of 2023

Getting off campus was key for the class of 2023, who only just gathered for the first time the previous day. "Going to different space and being outside allows them to get to know each other in a very pure way," said Johnston, who also teaches history and directs Brooks' community service program.

At Project Adventure, the third-formers broke up into six small groups and rotated through a variety of challenge stations set up by the organization on their wooded property. High-wire walks, balancing challenges and wall climbing were just a few of the activities through which the brand-new Brooksians came out of their shells.

Visit brooksschoolphotos for an album of photos from the Project Adventure, Inc. trip.

"I thought it was really good for team bonding," Arihaan Barua '23 said of the program, which he noted also provided some life lessons. "Our leader gave us these communication exercises, and slowly added different challenges to the games we were playing, so it brought all the lessons he was trying to teach us about working as a team together for the [wall] climbing at the end. Everybody worked through everything together."

Jerry Chen '23 was thankful for the ice-breaking aspect of the activities. "Coming in as a freshman it can be a little overwhelming because you don't know anyone," he said. "To have an activity like Project Adventure, when all of a sudden you're in a group with people that you're not going to get a chance to bond with if you just jump right into classes, was great."

The experience has already helped him feel more comfortable with his classmates, he added. "There were a lot of kids that I didn't know what they were going to be like and now after the activities I really got to know them and they're really nice people."

Classes of 2022 and 2021

Grit 'n Wit also involved challenging students to work together, but on mental as well as physical challenges through an obstacle course and other activities set up outside on campus.

Visit to see an album of photos from the Grit 'n Wit event.

"With the fourth and fifth form, the big thing that we wanted to do was mix them up," said Johnston. "We have some new students adding to the class and we wanted them to have a shared team-building experience along with returning students."

Some students admitted they underestimated the challenges, but reported that a good time was had by all.

"It was fun to be with new people and running around campus, though I was not expecting it to be as physical as it was," said Courtney Pappas '21. "I couldn't do the monkey bars!"

Mental challenges were what tripped up Annie Edwards '21. "Doing the obstacles was really fun," she said. "The brain challenges were actually a lot harder than I thought they were going to be, though. You actually had to sit and communicate with your team to get them done. But that part was interesting because I got to know people in a different way."

Class of 2020

The College Counseling Office seized the opportunity of having sixth-formers all together and gave them a series of workshops about college prep for their activity day.

Kicking off the program in the Science Forum, the class spent the morning and early afternoon (before an ice cream celebration) rotating between sessions on:

  • Making the most of college representatives' visits to Brooks
  • Essay writing
  • Common app information
  • Stress management
  • Selecting colleges to visit
  • Planning application lists

Sophia Ranalli '20 most appreciated the tips about how to make the most of college representatives' visits to Brooks. "It helped to learn what you should do and how important it is," she said. "The stress one was good too. It really made me calm."

Her biggest takeaway from the session? "I remember the message was, if you just think about it, you're going to end up somewhere great," she said. "There are so many options for you in this life so don't stress!"

Click to learn more about the College Counseling Office's programs at Brooks.

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