Valo, a Yarmouth-based nonprofit that provides retreat programming for teens across Maine, spent the better part of two days before April break with the 9th-11th grade. The intention of the in-school retreat was to help students form a school culture that is more open, mindful, and reflective of what the students envision.
The organization listened to what high school students love about Maine Coast Waldorf School and what feels challenging to them. Adult and teen guides from Valo created a space in which students saw each other with fresh eyes, and found new appreciation for all that they shared. Together the students created school “ways of being” that feel authentic to them.
“Valo provided a much-needed time of reflection and connection for our students, so they could regroup after several years of pandemic stress. I am so grateful for their work,” said Dr. Helen-Ann Ireland, MCWS’ Education Support Specialist in the High School.
The retreat culminated in the students writing commitment and belief statements (check out the bulletin board at the high school) – empowering them to continue to shape and impact the school community and culture.
Student reaction to Valo’s visit was overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve learned that they [my peers] have similar struggles and we’re really not so different,” shared one student. Another noted that they were “going to reach out to more people and judge others less.”
All of us at MCWS thank Valo for their visit, and for the work all of our students and faculty put in to develop and build a kind, thoughtful, and authentic school community.