Freshman FX: Lessons in Unbreakable Bonds


On September 15, 2017, DMAE’s freshman class went to Alpine, NJ, for the second annual Freshman Experience trip.

Coordinated by history teacher Judy Aronson and facilitated by a group of student and teacher volunteers, the event gave all DMAE freshmen a day to get to know each other. Led by two to three Peer Leaders and a teacher, students participated in activities including archery, square dancing, and hiking.

DMAE Teachers!


Senior Alexis Oliver explained how this one-day excursion is “a good alternative to Frost Valley.”  The former trip cost $300, and many students were unable to go, but Freshman Experience was completely free and involved both AE and DM students.

“What made it amazing this year was that our new principal, Billy Bowie, worked with the Board of Education so that students did not have to pay a penny for this trip. And, as we expected, participation in the event increased dramatically,”  Ms. Aronson said.  

One of the most important parts of planning this trip was ensuring that freshmen would be able to find an activity they liked. This was reflected in the variety of activities offered: hiking, rock climbing, square dancing, laser tag, archery, team building, and lanyard-making. Upperclassmen involved in this planning made sure that every student was involved and having a good time that day, and, according to a lot of students, it worked.

“I had a lot of fun and I was able to talk to a lot of new people!” said freshman Delia David enthusiastically.

Freshman Experience was also an opportunity to develop relationships between freshmen and upperclassmen. Most of the Peer Leaders were juniors or seniors, and would probably not have had a chance to interact with many of the freshmen outside of this trip.

“By the end of the day I felt really connected to my freshmen, and I really enjoyed hanging out with them,” senior Nailah Shabataka said.  

Although there was a lot to like about Freshman Experience, some students felt that it was too long, 9 am-8 pm, and others cited minor complaints.

“I didn’t like the square dancing at all, and a lot of kids were mad that they couldn’t have their phones, but the trip really helped me to get to know people,” freshman Damian Lubecki said.  

Though it is young, Freshman Experience is quickly becoming a DMAE tradition that brings the entire freshman class together for a day of fun and new connections. Plans for improvements are under way for next year, but it nevertheless served its purpose. The relationships forged on this trip will, hopefully, carry the freshmen through their next four years at DMAE.