SIS News Archive

Friendships and Bonds Formed at the Middle and High School Beach Retreat
Posted 10/27/2014 02:26PM

At the beginning of every school year, all middle and high school Bayside students and staff spend a day at a local beach.  This "ice breaker" is organized to help students to reconnect after a long summer break and to allow new students to get to know other students in a fun, relaxed environment that is centered around team building activities.  During this day away from classes, students are divided into teams according to their advisory groups. Bonds are formed between students and teachers and by the end of the day there are no new students, just new friends and classmates.

Here are two student views of the middle and high school beach retreat.

Johnathan Gabriel, grade 10

A few hundred kids, each one looking for any excuse to discharge their passive aggression built up during the previous weeks. And a hand full of stressed teachers who realize, from the very beginning, that a containment effort is beyond them. On any kind of school retreat of any kind, murphy's law is always an entertaining idea to ponder. However, once everybody was aboard the busses to the beach, we began singing our lungs out, and playing those childish types of games that high schoolers usually play on long bus rides. We were all a big, happy, cant-wait-to-get-to-the-beach type of family.

The retreat as a whole functioned to act as a bonding between the entire school community. Here, teachers, students, and grade levels competed and worked together to make the trip a success. No other venue besides the beach could have provided so much opportunities to do just that. Even though the main team-building games were canceled due to a dangerous weather combination of lighting and torrential rain, we still continued on with the tug-of-war championships, the judging of the flags (which were completely soiled due to the rain), and the chants; not to mention a load of swimming and riding the waves which could have lasted a lifetime.


For many, the chants were the highlight of the entire trip; about a month before hand, each advisory (or homeroom) class made their own choreographed chant. They also coordinated their dress code, whether it be custom-made shirts or wigs, to reflect their advisory element (earth, fire, water, or metal). Though quite nervous at first, each class stepped up to show off their dancing/rapping skills to the entire high school. Every performance was met with a rapture of applause and laughter. After activities like this, you become much closer to your peers, as there is no other bonding exercise in the world like mutual, goodhearted laughter. The day finished off with barbecues in advisory groups, when each student contributed food which was cooked over a small, cozy fire. At the end of the day, we got onto the busses back to Shenzhen, not as giddy as before, but instead with a overwhelming sense that SIS truly is the best school ever.


Emmie Xue, grade 6

Being new to the middle school gave me a great new perspective on what it is to be part of an organisation that considers something like taking middle schoolers to the beach, important. Don't students go to the beach with their parents? Are they not more likely to enjoy beaches at other holiday destinations, than those to be found relatively close to Shekou? I soon found out that there are many benefits to creating something that is more than just a trip to the beach. This is about students getting to know each other in their advisory groups and also getting to know their advisors. It's also about being well prepared for certain activities at the beach, and these happen in advance, at school. Let me explain…

At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Brooker, the MS Counselor, organises small groups of students and places them with an advisory teacher. This is someone that they will spend time with throughout the year. If they ever need support for academic, social or emotional reasons, they have that teacher to turn to. My advisory group is made up of ten students whose name is 6Wind. We began the year by playing get to know you games and then they made up their own name of Funky Twisters! Once that was done they got to work creating a flag that represented each student and also worked together to develop a logo for their new name. Lunchtimes saw groups of enthusiastic students wielding paintbrushes and paints, and yet it was all tidied away ready for the next day's work, until all flags were finished. This was then followed up with the composing of a chant or a group cheer. I loved how my group used their talents to come up with something…funky!

Beach Retreat Day arrived and students with flags, bags, swim gear, large drink containers and activity paraphernalia were packed into buses. Xi Chong beach awaited us, and when we arrived, it was straight under a big shelter that held bbq pits - very handy for sitting each advisory group around. Each group then presented their chant. 6Wind, 7wind and 8Wind did a fantastic job of their chants, while other groups also showed how they had worked together to create a great sound. We cheered for every group!

Once students had eaten snacks and topped up drinks, we headed out onto the beach to have our photos. We did this next to our flags that were pinned to bamboo poles for staking into the sand. Next, we headed for the water in an area that was netted off for safety. Each student had a buddy to care for, and all students enjoyed the sun, the sand, the water, consolidated old friendships and built new friendships. Students who wanted something different, played tug of war, with girls versus boys or teachers versus students. Fun! Lunch was a walk away, with advisors and their students sitting at round tables and being served hot meals of great food. Funky Twisters sat close to a group they admired - same element but different grade level - 8Wind!

This is a day where students can just be themselves, can get to know other students away from school and especially get to know and begin to trust their advisors. Beach Retreat allows students to continue bonding with each other, not just in their given grade level groups but across the whole of the middle school. It was a joy to be part of that day, and one that new students - particularly 6th graders, but including those new across all middle school grade levels - can now look back on with a smile. SIS middle schoolers are a positive group, just great to work with. I think having the Beach Retreat when we do helps to encourage that positivity. For my Funky Twisters, with them being so new to middle school, I could see them beginning to say to themselves…SIS rocks! And so it does. 



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