The transition to high school can be daunting, but the Class of 2025 faced the extra challenge of doing it during the COVID pandemic. Having spent the final months of Middle School in remote learning, their preparations for 9th Grade were experienced through the constraints of social distancing, online classes, and virtual meetings done from home. Stepping onto campus and into their first classes in Cameron Hall in the Fall of 2021, these students faced steep social, emotional, and educational learning curves.
So, while CFA’s class trips always play an important role in building community spirit and individual character, the Niners Bald Head Island Trip that October could not have come too soon!
Computer Science teacher Carr Fullagar was one of the trip chaperones, and remembers the heightened feeling of anticipation as they gathered for the early morning departure to BHI. “These students hadn’t been together in person as a large group in a long time. That, and being out in the community again, created a sense of excitement that you could feel when they got onto the ferry. They were just excited to be on a boat and to be together for the day.”
The schedule included both structured activities and free time, allowing students to develop their sense of independence and autonomy. Part of the day was dedicated to letting the students roam the island by bike, deciding where they will go and with whom. They explored the beaches, relaxed under trees, or rode along the waterways, experiencing the beauty of the area at their own pace.
Students also spend time learning from local experts with the Bald Head Island Conservancy, gaining knowledge that both deepens their understanding of the region in which they live and that integrates with biology classes they take at CFA. “I think it’s a powerful moment as the kids find more appreciation for where they live than they had before,” says Fullagar.
For the teachers chaperoning the trip, it was also a chance to get to know the students more deeply in a fun, informal setting where they experience new opportunities and challenges. Fullagar notes that the group activities were a time when some students started to evolve and be recognized as leaders, characteristics that carried back into their activities at CFA.
While it was just a one day experience, the Niners BHI Trip encapsulated the ethos of CFA’s Upper School curriculum and student life goals, and students returned to campus better prepared and encouraged to take on new challenges as the Class of 2025.