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OP Juniors Go on Class Retreat

Carlo Lutero, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, February 8, Oratory’s Junior Class went on a retreat to Kearny at the retreat center of the Archdiocese of Newark Youth & Young Adult Ministry. Mrs. Cunha, Mr. Marsh, Mr. Daugherty, and Mr. Gordon comprised the staff and were accompanied by Campus Ministry Members including School President Nick Browne, Stephen Heller, Ben Palumbo, Harrison Gambelli, Jack Lazar, and Joe Zecchino. Mrs. Otterbein-Yoo led the retreat herself.

 

Mrs. Otterbein-Yoo began the retreat with a prayer, a reading of “The Good Samaritan,” and an introduction to the topic the class would be exploring for the day: social justice. The class was then split into four groups and sent to different stations that they would cycle through to completion.

 

Mr. Gordon, Ben Palumbo, and Harrison Gambelli led the monopoly station, in which students played the game with a slight twist. At the beginning of the game, each player received a number that would dictate their social class and amount of wealth they had and inherited. The game simulated to students how difficult to was for the lower class to survive, especially if the other players did not show consideration for their status. It taught students how easy it is for those born into a fortunate family with much to inherit to live and survive, and how difficult it is for those on the poverty line or in the lower class to make it out and survive.

 

Mrs. Cunha, Mr. Marsh, and Mr. Daugherty led the adventure exercise. In this, students were given the background of a character in a specific impoverished area, such as Haiti or India for example. In these simulations, students would put themselves in the shoes of their character and be forced to make decisions unique to their situation. Some of these decisions included being with or providing for the family, furthering education, being with gangs, or pursuing dreams. However, no one was able to have it all, and the tough decisions showed students the exponentially more difficult lives that people our age have in impoverished countries.

 

Nick Browne and Stephen Heller led the Good Samaritan exercise. After rereading the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ message within it, Nick and Stephen led groups in a discussion, which was then followed by the formulation of skits. In the skits, students were instructed to recreate the Good Samaritan story in a more modern time and society with different symbolic characters, but the same theme of loving your neighbor.

 

The last station was led by Mrs. Otterbein-Yoo herself, helped by Joe Zecchino, Will Gagliano, and Jack Lazar. Before the students began, they filled out a survey with true or false questions on facts regarding the hunger and malnourishment problem. Then, students were randomly given slips of paper that dictated students’ social class. The top 10% were seated at a table and given a cornucopia of snacks, the middle class were also seated at a table but had a smaller supply of snacks, and the lower class had to sit or stand on the floor and were given nothing but a plate of a few crackers. The exercise showed the disparity between the rich and the poor and was followed by more facts about hunger and malnourishment around the world.

 

Once the juniors had visited all the stations, they made their way to lunch. Afterward, everyone met back up in the main room where chosen groups of students presented their Good Samaritan skits to the whole class. The skits were then followed by a Q&A with Ben Palumbo and Harrison Gambelli focused on the Romero Center trip. The seniors talked about what they had done on their trips in the previous years as well as the fun experiences they had.
The day was concluded by a short class mass led by Father, which included special readings from Will Mainente, Joe Budisak, and Andre Yoder. All in all, it was a productive retreat. The juniors gained eye-opening information on the topic of social justice, which will hopefully entice many to join the upcoming Romero Center trip this year!

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