By Olivia Maurer, Clarion Herald Guest Column
Archbishop Hannan High School
Seniors from the northshore gathered Feb. 26 at Our Lady of the Lake School in Mandeville for a day of retreat and formation. Students from the St. Paul’s School, St. Scholastica Academy, Pope John Paul II High School and Archbishop Hannan High were invited.
We all had no clue what the day would entail. I was really looking forward to talking to students from other schools and to see how their senior year was going as they prepared to take the next step in their lives.
Austin Ashcraft, a former teacher at St. Paul’s, was the keynote speaker, and he led us in a couple of ice breakers – a push-up contest and “Simon Says” between schools – that woke us up and encouraged us to interact with students from other schools.
Ashcraft gave us solid advice about college life and the transition we all are preparing to undertake. I appreciated his honesty and frankness about the loneliness and the struggles he encountered in having to make new friends.
He used the story of a college athlete who committed suicide after her first semester after struggling with depression. I remembered reading the story but had never really reflected on it until that day.
Ashcraft used her social media accounts to show us how easy it is to hide our struggles and to only present the highlights of our lives online, which can become very toxic to one’s self-esteem and self-image. Depression is a big issue that my generation is dealing with, and I’m glad it was brought to everyone’s attention so that no one feels alone in that feeling or experience. I enjoyed how open and honest he was about his own experiences.
We then had Mass with Archbishop Gregory Aymond in which students from the different schools served as eucharistic ministers and altar servers. There was even an inter-school choir that I was able to take part in, and I appreciated how we were all able to come together to celebrate Mass as one.
We also participated in eucharistic adoration and reflection, and we had the opportunity to meet representatives from campus ministries at various local universities. I truly enjoyed the day, and I am glad it will continue as a tradition on the northshore so that future senior classes will have the same opportunity to grow together as we did.
Olivia Maurer is a senior at Archbishop Hannan High School.