Roughly 50 beings shyly smiled and shuffled around new faces outside the attendance office.
Like at any school event there were groups.
Freshmen guys and girls in their respective gender gatherings, sophomores, upperclassmen, and the officers all chatted, filling the air with an exciting static.
The electric air was obviously a shock to some, who had yet to socially engage with this specific collection of groups.
Yet by the end of this day, the humming of relational connections would become a comforting background noise.
This was not the first official meeting of Student Council, but it was the first official field trip of unique purpose.
And to make such an event even more official, it even had its very own education-enhancing learning objective to be referenced throughout the trip.
Somehow I know you’ll discover it.
Anyways, lunches were tossed in bags, which were set in coolers, as the bus loaded. On the highway, the groups stayed in their groups and it started. Small talk, forgotten names, and goofing around passed the time. Personalities began to expand, but in their groups, this was nothing new.
Highway. Zoo. Unload.
Inside yet still outside, the members split up into different groups. Each pod of six persons was led by an officer, who escorted them on the scavenger hunt. My group was especially diverse. I was sceptical of being with these new people, dare I say strangers. Especially being the only senior in the group. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a day of learning, of the best kind.
My group spent the next three hours working on riddling word puzzles, and tracking down wild animals. Each person on the trip had a random name tag like, “Sonny,” to which they sought to find their match: Sonny’s matched with Cher. We were equipped with maps and Instagrams to catalog our deciphered data. After a half an hour, the boat ride became a float trip. We still had a destination, but we changed our purpose. And the real learning began.
We walked and talked. Pointed and laughed. And pretended to trip and fall for a photo.
We temporarily overcame fears of large snakes and spiders, and braved the Hippo’s raging crowd for selfies’ sake. We sat under water and glass to let graceful swimmers steal our breath. And waited on end for rare glimpses of this or that.
I carried a stylish floral knapsack and discovered social connections shared. I talked the ears off a freshmen with advice and chatter. I shared in complaints of homework to make up and time to crunch.
Lunch soon followed. And group games ensued. Names were no longer completely unfamiliar.
We were learning.
Learning by living. Just living life with these people I once, long ago called strangers.
I’ve learned preferences, flexibilities, and buttons to and to not to push. I’ve learned names who carry individual experiences, each differently talented. I’ve learned who works best with this and who can do that.
Learning about each other through life shared with each other.
No grades, no homework. Just people. People who now are together connected through this one day.
The significance of these connections lies ahead. Ahead in the many hours of donation drive-balloon blowing-ticket telling-morning meeting-Student Council days there lies a necessary bond. A bond that enables the communication, evaluation, and integration of major school events. Entirely as important as functionality, is the bonds’ ability to bring joy and desired sense of togetherness out of teamwork.
Not every Student Council connection is perfect or strong as steel, but the buzz in each one tells us its alive and running. A buzz that will energize teams, drive efforts, and slowly pull our school into one spectacular team headed in the same upward direction, one connection at a time.