Freshmen spend night at school participating in grade bonding

Vivi Ducker, Reporter

Freshman Jakob Lipsky dribbles the ball up the court of the CESJDS gym, which would be ordinary if it was not 10:30 p.m. The rest of the freshman class watches the intense five-on-five basketball tournament while munching on hand-decorated cookies during their school lock-in on March 19.

In an effort to strengthen grade connections, the freshman class held a lock-in from 6 p.m. until 12 p.m. The class engaged in community-building activities such as sport competitions and class-wide singing.

This was the first grade government-organized social event for the freshman class and the first lock-in that the school has ever held.

“This was the first lock-in in all of JDS history, and I just was really happy to be part of it and spend time with my classmates,” freshman Liem Elgrably said.

After the grade-wide shabbaton in the fall, the ninth-grade government was excited to plan more bonding activities for their class. Freshman Dean and biology teacher Melissa Andrew originally proposed the idea of a lock-in and loved seeing students connect on the shabbaton and wanted to maintain that energy with fun and new activities.

“The idea is always community building. We want a kehillah,” Andrew said. “So I think that the way to do that is to have students spend lots of time together doing fun activities.”

Of 85 freshmen, 76 attended, accompanied by nine faculty chaperones. An appealing part of the event was the fact that the freshmen had the building to themselves

“Being in the ninth grade, freshmen don’t rule the high school because it’s the bottom of the totem pole in a way, but honestly, this is a time for freshmen to experience being in the building alone,” Andrew said. “There’s not anyone else, so it’s about getting to enjoy the space, hang out and have fun.”

There were lots of competitive and fun activities such as dodge ball, basketball and ping-pong tournaments in the gym, as well as cookie decorating in the cafeteria and karaoke in the atrium. The variety of activities ensured that there was something fun for everyone to take part in.

At the end of the night, the whole class came together and sat on the floor of the gym to sing meaningful songs along with their grade nigun, a song without words that they learned on their shabbaton.

“The highlight for me was probably the singing together in a circle,” Lipsky said. “We’re slowly building more connections and a better bond as a grade.”

The student government aimed for this lock-in to be an event for the class to be together without the pressure of academic classes. Freshman co-president Hadriel Dayanim encouraged students to reach out to people they might not regularly interact with to unite the class as a whole.

“It’s a place where everyone can be with friends and everyone can have a really fun time,” Dayanim said.

According to Andrew, lock-ins will hopefully be implemented for other grades in the high school. The hope for future lock-ins is to have an overnight with the whole grade in the building. Due to logistical complications with chaperones and timing, this event was not overnight, but the success of this lock-in may lead to opportunities for full overnight lock-ins in the future.

“Every grade is going to want to have a lock-in in the end,” Andrew said.