Honors conducts retreat


Jordan Neel, [email protected]

Three-dozen Honors students and faculty had the opportunity to bond at the 13th Annual Honors Retreat last weekend at Camp Tuolumne Trails in Groveland.

LMC Activities included workshops, eating s’mores, hayrides, a bad poetry contest and a hike in Yosemite National Park.

LMC astronomy professor Scott Cabral, who has been to all but one of the 13 retreats, presented a stargazing activity Friday night. The event had students stand in one giant circle using blue and green lasers to point out the different constellations. Cabral even brought telescope so that students could view a sky full of stars and, for the first time, a planet.

“I was glad we got to see Saturn,” he said, “We never had a retreat where we got to see a planet and Saturn is the best planet to look at through a telescope. I’m glad it was  so clear in the sky since in the past, due to fires, there were corn-flake-sized ashes floating down like snowflakes and we couldn’t see any stars.”

Saturday morning music professor Luis Zuniga talked about how to conduct, philosophy professor Edward Haven delved into the philosophical view of beauty, and art professor Curtis Corlew shared tips on taking good photos.

There was even free time in the afternoon for students to participate in archery, play ping-pong and frisbee, and swim in the pool.

Honors student Julia Steele, who has been on the retreat twice, said it is a great opportunity for people to make new friends and bond with one another and with nature.

“I just love being in nature,” said Steele. “Being surrounded by intelligent people who become your friends is awesome. There’s different workshops every year so you learn something at each retreat.”

Student Joshua Estrada said it’s a trip every Honors student should go on at least once.

“Swimming is really the best part to me,” said Estrada, “Everything from the icebreakers to playing card games like UNO with friends helps us bond closer together.”

Some students in Honors attended on the recommendation of others. LMC student Arren De Manuel is in that category.

“The people I knew last year that went to the retreat came back and told me how fun it was,” he said. “I felt like I missed out so I didn’t want to miss it again.”

Interim Honors Program Director Marie Arcidiacono, who has taken over while Jennifer Saito is in Barcelona as part of the district study abroad program, had a multitude of emotions when she realized she was the leader of the retreat since it’s such a pinnacle event for the program. She wanted to make sure it was a retreat that would make Saito proud.

“There was a lot of excitement but also nervousness,” said Arcidiacono. “There were very big shoes to fill.”

The biggest highlight for her is the Yosemite visit since it gives faculty and students the option to either hike or just relax and enjoy Mother Nature.

Her advice for students in Honors who are apprehensive about going to the retreat is that they can make new friends they never met before and are able to get out of their comfort zones staying in a cabin rather than just in learning an Honors classroom.

“When you think of a camping retreat you may think ‘oh no there’s no running water, we have to cook hot dogs over the fire’,” she said “but the facility makes it more comfortable to be camping since we have bunk beds, running bathrooms, we can eat inside the lounge and so much more. We make the hikes accessible to your fitness level so that you’re not doing anything you’re uncomfortable with whether you want to go to Yosemite and hike up Half Dome Village or do any easy hike so that students have options.”

Those who are curious about joining Honors can contact Arcidiacono ([email protected]) or administrative assistant Maureen Willhoite ([email protected]).