Students bond at Harambe, prepare for Pedernales

On May 2, the area in front of the Ninth Grade Center was filled with organized chaos as 126 students loudly cheered in preparation for their trip to Harambe, a retreat that helps prepare them to lead The Pedernales Expedition. Pedernales is a bonding experience where eighth graders from Hill Country and West Ridge middle schools participate in activities under the leadership of high school students who applied for the positions of Squad and Group Leaders. The Harambe trip lasted from May 2 to May 4.

“[Helping organize Harambe and Pedernales] is so rewarding,” Honcho senior Mary Travis said. “It is so exciting to see all of the hard work that everyone puts into it come together.”

At Harambe, which takes place annually in Wimberley at the 7A Resort, students are divided into squads of six and participate in team building activities and competitions with other squads in order to learn how to do the activities the eighth graders will participate in and to bond as a squad. Students also perform roll calls, which are short, 30-second skits to introduce their squad.

“I loved being a Squad Leader at Harambe this year,” junior Katie Stotts said. “I was super pleased with my amazing Group Leaders who cheered the whole time and made everything come together.”

Both Harambe and Pedernales are organized by six juniors and seniors who apply for the position of Honcho. The Honchos work for nine months to create the activities and organize both trips.

“I applied to be one of the Honcho leaders because Pedernales was a huge confidence booster for me,” junior Carter Smith said. “I just want to help eighth graders to become comfortable and confident during their freshman year.”

At Pedernales, which will take place on May 20 and 21, eighth graders will be assigned to groups within the different squads. Within these groups they will get to know one another while participating in team-building activities.

“Pedernales is a great time for eighth graders from the two different middle schools to meet each other in preparation for starting high school in the fall,” Mary said. “I am so excited for Pedernales and can’t wait to see the middle schoolers, as well as the high schoolers, have an amazing time and grow as leaders.”