To start off the decade, the class of 2020 woke up well before sunrise this past Monday, our suitcases and tired eyes following us to the airport, where we boarded the plane which marked the start of our long-awaited senior trip. Being the first time we had seen each other after Winter Break, elated hugs and bright smiles quickly substituted whatever trace of exhaustion might have lingered on our faces. And so, we set off to Atlanta where we boarded the buses that would take us to our destination: Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
After a day full of travel, stunning scenery and wholehearted laughs, we finally saw what would become our temporary homes from the distance: two monstrous wooden cabins standing against the breathtaking view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Boys and girls separated into our respective houses, the crisp winter air and delicious hot chocolate drawing smiles from all. Dinner in the boys’ cabin followed, all 71 students sharing their first meal of the trip together. The following day featured a breathtaking hike in the Smokys and fun trip to Walmart until it was time to eat an amazing dinner lovingly prepared by Opher and Rabbi Greene. The evening ended with a fun night on the town in Gatlinburg, where the students were able to explore Southern culture through its unique music and fun activities. Wednesday was supposed to be a ski day, but this year’s seniors didn’t let the lack of snow keep us from having fun. After arriving at Ober Gatlinburg we rode Mountain Coaster, went alpine sliding, snow tubing, and went ice skating.
Through all of this, those who had boarded that plane a few days before as friends became a family, these indescribable bonds being solidified by the closing night activity. As we all gathered in the girls’ cabin, moving speeches and emotional words from the heart were shared by many, evoking tears, smiles, and hugs. Thinking the evening could not possibly get any better, we were unknowingly ushered by our chaperones to the boys’ place, where a surprise awaited us: a party! Lights, speakers and a DJ topped off a perfect trip in a perfect way.
As we got on the bus to return home, we all posed for a group picture, a knowing smile spread across the crowd: we are a family, and regardless of where each of our individual paths take us, we will always have each other.