Senior Girls Go “Glamping”

Written by: Taylor Tucker ’16

Our Senior Girls’ Camping Trip was an experience unlike any other. For the girls in the Class of 2016, this was such a unique opportunity to bond with each other. My classmates and I opened up to one another; we shared our high school memories and future dreams while we laughed and cried together.

On Wednesday, August 12, the senior girls of the class of 2016 rolled into the student parking lot, suitcases in tow, bound for Cape Henlopen. Dressed in outfits ranging from shorts and T-shirts to printed rompers, we soon donned bright pink “I heart Auks” T-shirts as we gathered around the fountain for a prayer before embarking on our three-day “glamping” trip.

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And… we’re off! During the drive down, we jammed to our favorite songs and throwback tunes from our grade school days. So many fun activities awaited us at Youth Camp #3! We relaxed on the beach with morning yoga, sat in silence under the clear night sky watching shooting stars, designed boards with our hopes and dreams for senior year, and bonded during our late night chats. We also shared a few laughs and tears as we reminisced and wondered about the lives ahead of us. Our final night we shared a pizza dinner and embarked on a one-of-a-kind scavenger hunt along the boardwalk in Rehoboth. The following morning we gathered together on the beach and watched the sun rise over the ocean horizon.

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On August 14 at 11 am, we said goodbye to Youth Camp #3 and hello to what will be one of the best years of our lives. The three days we spent at Cape Henlopen provided us with the chance to forge and strengthen our friendships that will see us through end of the school year and beyond. Go Lady Auks 2016!

Auks Rough It: Camping in Shenandoah

As the 11 boys finished piling into the swank-a-licious Archmere van that would take us 4 hours south to Big Meadows Campground at Shenandoah National Park, I realized that giving these Auks control of the aux cable could prove to be a huge, albeit poetic, mistake. Relieved that these boys actually have great taste in music (we jammed to CCR, tons of country and even T-Swift), I admit that I enjoyed the drive down despite the are-we-there-yets, which increased in frequency until we reached Skyline Drive. If you have never traveled on Skyline Drive, this is something I recommend that you add to your to-do list, bucket list, checklist, wish list, or the much more fun to say muistilista. Put it towards the top.

Each year, the other teachers and I look forward to this trip as the rising senior boys have an opportunity to bond with one another as they get away from the daily distractions of phone, internet, and social media. The slight irony of recounting this experience on a blog is not lost on me. Although they’d never admit it, this particular group of 29 boys seemed somewhat trepidatious when facing 4 days and 3 nights of tent camping since most of them had never spent a single night in a tent before.

Spectacular view from Hawksbill Summit

Amazing view from Hawksbill Peak

 

Over the course of our time in Shenandoah, the boys worked together in small groups to build campfires to cook dinner, hiked a total of 22 miles to some spectacular views, swam in pools of mountain spring water and climbed to the summit of Old Rag Mountain. There was live music each night at the Big Meadows Lodge and one night, a local performer named David Gilmore (not from Pink Floyd) invited the boys up to sing “Sweet Caroline” with him. Good times. 

Natural water slide into a deep pool

Natural water slide into a deep pool

The camping trip was both a novelty and a challenge, and by the end of the excursion, the boys felt a strong sense of accomplishment, community, and self reliance. They’ll bring these positive experiences and camaraderie to the Archmere community when we return to school in a few weeks. With that, I leave you with a few quotes: one boy said, “We went into the woods as boys, and now we emerge as men.” Not dramatic at all.  Another has learned to appreciate the comforts of a roof, central air, and his bed: “this was so much fun, I loved it! …never doing it again.” And finally, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau every time we head out on this excursion. He writes in Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

The group at the summit of Old Rag

The group at the summit of Old Rag

Singing at Carnegie Hall

Mastersingers Take Carnegie Hall”

Freshman Alisa Yakovenko and Sophomore Sarah Burton, both members of Archmere’s elite choral group, the Mastersingers, write about what it was like to sing at Carnegie Hall as part of the National Youth Choir. For the second time in three years, the Archmere Mastersingers were chosen as the featured solo choir

Archmere Mastersingers, featured solo choir at Carnegie Hall.

Archmere Mastersingers perform at Carnegie Hall.

“Ladies and gentlemen, from Claymont, Delaware, I proudly present to you the Mastersingers of Archmere Academy!”

Standing backstage before show time, we felt a mix of nerves and excitement. Archmere’s eight soloists prepared to sing their parts, while Mr. Ifkovits tried to frantically remind us of every detail to watch out for in each selection.

As we walked onto the stage, we couldn’t help but glance up into the highest balconies and search for familiar faces in the audience. As we began to sing the first notes of our first piece, all nervousness fell away and we became lost in the moment; singing with some of our best friends in the most prestigious concert hall in the nation. This was clearly different from any concert performance we had ever given.

At the beginning of the school year, it was announced that the Archmere Academy Mastersingers had been invited to perform in the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall in March of 2015. Soon afterwards, we were informed that the Mastersingers unanimously had been chosen as the Featured Choir at Carnegie Hall as well, meaning that we would perform our own selection. This was the second time in three years Archmere had received this honor, becoming only the second ensemble in the history of the National Youth Choir Festival to perform as the Featured Choir twice.

Since September, we had been working hard in the choir room in preparation for this moment; every hour of sleep lost, every eraser thrown, and every Claymont Steak Shop fry consumed was worth it as we finished our program and the audience rose to their feet to give a standing ovation.

Selected from Archmere’s Concert Choir, each year thirty young singers are chosen to travel, compete, and perform additional concerts in various venues throughout the region. Ranging from freshmen to seniors, this group is not just a choir, but a family.  Over the countless hours of practice time after school, we had grown inseparable. Without Archmere, this group of talented high schoolers would not have had the opportunity to bond and grow as musicians and people.

Archmere provides students the chance to excel in all areas, whether it is academically, athletically, or artistically. We both feel incredibly thankful to be members of the Mastersingers. The performance opportunities we have had this year alone are greater than what most people experience in a lifetime, and we can’t wait to see what experiences the future will bring.

— Sarah Burton ‘17 and Alisa Yakovenko ‘18

For freshmen at Archmere, it’s a great time of year!

Father John Zagarella, O. Praem, former headmaster and current guidance counselor for the Class of 2018, shares his thoughts on why 2nd quarter is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for our freshmen. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Doesn’t that sound like a great opening line for a Christmas song? Ah yes, but drat the luck, I do believe that somebody already took it (namely Edward Pola and George Wyle when they wrote the song in 1963)! While they were certainly thinking about Christmas, they probably never dreamed it would apply to this time in the life of a freshman at Archmere Academy. You see, from my perspective as the Guidance Counselor of Archmere’s Class of 2018, it really is the most wonderful time of this particular year.

The flip-flops of summer are a memory, and so, it seems, are the flip-flops of a new Auk’s tummy as the thrills and chills of transition befell him or her like an emotional avalanche (or like confetti at a Lady Gaga concert). It stands to reason…new school, new teachers, new classmates, new schedule, even new school colors, for Heaven’s sake!   And a big, beautiful campus to figure out…with just four minutes in between classes to get un-lost! Then we need to figure out of it’s an A Day, an H Day or a D Day. Am I free this period or am I supposed to be in Honors Bio? Oops! I forgot my appointment with Father Zagarella!! OK, so that last one is still happening. But I am a counselor and I DO understand (and I DO run all over campus looking for them when they miss an appointment).

Yes, the first three months of life as an Auk are surely challenging ones. It IS a major transition for our students. But what a great place for our freshmen and transfer students to experience this new beginning. You see, Archmere is a happy place. The faculty, staff and students are happy (Mamma Mia, even the Principal is happy!)…and also are happy to help. Our new students know that from the minute that their parents turn onto Manor Ave that first day of school. You remember the scene…our seniors and faculty cheering the new Auks on with a warm and welcoming joyful noise. YES!

This time of year happens every year at Archmere, but only once in the life of a student. It is the most wonderful time of this year when our freshmen “get it”! They CAN excel academically and, at the same time, they CAN achieve athletically and/or artistically and at the same time they CAN figure out which class drops on an E Day! To be sure, from Labor Day to Thanksgiving the change within a new Auk is palpable…from blank stares to toothy smiles! They know they fit in and they do; they know they are in a safe place and that they are loved…and indeed they are! Go AUKS. Pietate et Scientia.

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