Twelfth Grade Travel
Before-School Leadership Retreat
At Tara, we view “transitions” as being as important as the actual subjects we focus on, and we spend a lot of time and thought making them meaningful. In this light, both the before-school senior retreat and the one at the end of the year after graduation are of utmost importance to the senior year.
At the beginning of the year, seniors travel with the Tara directors to a cabin in the mountains for a retreat lasting five days. During the week, there are group meetings every morning and individual goal-setting senior interviews in the afternoons. The class also has a group project assignment: to create an Andy Goldsworthy-style art project somewhere on the land from materials found in nature.
The Russian Literature Intensive
The final week of the Russian literature block is taught as an intensive in a retreat setting. The predominant focus of the week is the work of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Daytimes are spent in discussions about the authors and the themes in their writing, while evenings are devoted to films about them. Students bring their laptops, and a part of each day is devoted to writing a short story in the style of one of the authors that they’ve studied.
Looking at the world from the different perspectives in history that we have been shown has stretched my imagination, increased my understanding of what it is to be human, and opened up vast new possibilities for my life ahead.
Twelfth grade student
World History Trip to Europe
A Tara education culminates in a month-long trip to Austria and England. In Vienna, London, Stratford and Cornwall, seniors get a chance to experience firsthand the history, art, music and architecture they’ve studied. As part of a culturally rich and varied itinerary, the group, led by Tara directors, stays in historic inns and homes, enjoys theatre, concerts and opera, and visits museums, abbeys, flea markets and even Merlin’s cave.
The Europe trip takes many aspects of the Tara curriculum and translates them into life, day by day, minute by minute. It connects the students with the ancient past and the not-so-ancient past and in so doing, works to prepare them for their future. Some alchemy occurs that makes this trip even more than the sum of its worthy parts. We are not a group of tourists; we are a group of teachers and students on an academic, cultural and spiritual journey. The result is learning and transformation, subtle yet powerful, and one of the final “destinations” of the four-year Tara experience.
The transition from experiences together into the next step in our graduates’ individual lives is of extreme importance to us, to our students, and to their parents. With this in mind, we go back to the mountains almost immediately after graduation and stay there together for one night and two full days.
The time we spend together in the mountains is traditionally divided into three parts: a review of the past four years, a celebratory meal together, and some fun, be it a good game, singing, dancing, etc. We conclude by talking with about the future and sending our graduates into the world with heartfelt wishes.
One of our graduates wrote us a letter about this retreat to share with future graduates. She said that the retreat serves as a “bookend” to the before-school retreat; the whole four-year Tara experience would not be complete without it.