Bittersweet retreat

While sweethearts were executing carefully planned dates, the PGC Class of 2013-14 was busy at work on Valentine’s Day loading a bus to go on its final retreat. Our very own Fernão Mesquita was kind enough to provide a beautiful location for the weekend, his family home about an hour away from the city of São Paulo. During the three days music was played, relationships were strengthened and goals were met, filling us all with individual, unique memories.

“I’m not just pleasantly surprised but extremely proud of how this PGC class continues to want to learn, grow and improve even second semester of their senior year,” said Thomas Stephenson, PGC advisor for numerous years.

And though the retreat was an incredible experience, perhaps many still wonder, “What the heck is PGC anyways? Some kind of cult?” Objectively, PGC (Peer Group Connection) is a Princeton-designed program with the main purpose of helping students better transition into high school. Subjectively, though, PGC means something completely different to each person, be it for the freshmen, leaders, advisers, parents, administration or those not directly involved in the program. The secrecy often associated with the group arises from the priority of confidentiality. While speaking on behalf of others is a break of confidentiality, expressing one’s own ideas and experiences is of course allowed and highly encouraged.

Besides going on its last retreat, the PGC class also had its hands full with what has been the most “PCG-y” month of the year so far. Two weeks ago, on February 4, the group put together its annual Family Night. This event encourages family members to come learn more about the program and participate in some of the same activities as their freshmen and/or senior children experience in weekly meetings. Parents first enjoyed some of D. Emilia’s Graded-famous brownies before accompanying their kids throughout the two-hour event. Just like most of the other major PGC events that happen throughout the year, Family Night was organized mainly by the PGC seniors but would not have been possible without the help of Graded faculty, especially our high school secretaries and cafeteria staff.

The following Thursday, only two days after Family Night, the PGC seniors were at it again with the Junior Test Drive. An important part of the application process, the Test Drive was also another opportunity for others to learn about what goes on in PGC, this time by the class that is the future of the program. If the final retreat was not already a bittersweet reminder that this and other classes are coming to an end for seniors, the Test Drive also put into perspective how important it is to trust the incoming junior class in continuing to make Graded a great place to be. Besides our seniors, Sandra Stoneman, advisor to the class, is also leaving this year but says, “PGC embodies what is greatest about Graded and its core values, and I am grateful to have been part of the program.”