Senior Survival II: Maintaining a Community


Seniors work together during initiatives. Photo by Katlyn Burchar

Those who embark on the class bonding experience known as Senior Survival know it is not a place where everyone comes back magically changed. The refreshing part about the detox from cellphones and schoolwork is that it provides a way to escape from reality. The trip alters the overall perception of the class and allows participants to view the world from the same perspective, if only for a fleeting moment. There is no magic involved, despite how much people may wish for some. Lives cannot be dramatically altered in one day. An event can lay the cornerstone for a new life, but ultimately change is made through day to day decisions. Life would be easier if we could snap our fingers during an event like Senior Survival and be better people immediately, but that is not the case.

After I wrote my first article about the experience my class had at Senior Survival, I began to think of the negative. My foremost thought was whether or not our class would continue to keep Christ first throughout the year, and my second was if our class had built a strong foundation for a community. After gathering more information from my fellow classmates and taking the time to be observant for this article, I quickly realized I was not the only one plagued with these questions. Something did feel different at Senior Survival for a lot of the class. 91%* of the seniors that responded to my survey felt that our class grew closer, but 32% of that number also feels that the bond has now dissipated. One senior stated that “people still didn’t care [at Senior Survival]. No one noticed when I cried right behind them.” There was a similar response to the question of whether or not the Spiritual High had ended.

Around 83% claimed the stronger connection with God had ceased, for some as soon as “we got on the bus to leave.” This was not the case for others. Several shared their personal growth with God since the trip and how the trials of life had only made the connection stronger. The reason for the return to normalcy varies for each person. For many, the stress of school makes life “feel so different.” It is hard to work on a relationship with God while balancing homework, tests, and extra-curriculars; not to mention trying to build a relationship with fellow classmates. In other words, “we are back to our normal lives and busy daily routines. We are connected with social media again and just aren’t spending that time out in nature, with God, or one another. We are no longer disconnected from the world.” This separation from God is sure to cause disappointment. One senior commented on their distress of not wanting the feeling of spiritual connection to leave: “I don’t want it to be over but it seems like it is. The experience was awesome and I honestly thought things would change back at school. While some small things may have changed, I don’t see a difference from before Senior Survival.”

Sadly, a lot of preconceived negative notions about the class that existed before the “spiritual awakening” have not faded like some of the more positive aspects. Opinions on the senior class contrast starkly. While some described 2020 as “the best,” since we are “all real with each other,” or just simply “intense,” others commented on how the seniors are “nice on the outside but judgey when you get to know them,” and how “most are jerks in the end.” A recurring theme among the responses was that the seniors are “cliquey but misunderstood.” A lot of barriers seem to exist in the minds in the senior class, just like the barriers that exist in every single human mind. The only undecided factor is whether or not each individual has the strength to ask God to help tear down those walls. It is impossible for a perfect class to graduate from Collegedale Academy because all people are broken inside to an extent. Senior Survival did not permanently change the class of 2020, but it did plant a seed. For some, that seed has grown immediately and continues to thrive through constant communication with God. Some have burned out since the revival, and others are still waiting for the journey of growth to begin. If the seniors want to bond more as a class and walk down the aisle at graduation knowing they are tied to God forever, each individual has to make personal commitments. We still have an entire semester to go; who knows what advancements will be made? If real change is going to happen, effort needs to be made on all sides to get to know each other. It is important to remember that the creation of a community is not over yet. As one senior stated,“We may be flawed, but I wouldn’t want to be in any other class.”