Teen Teachers prepare for Pedernales

Each year, the Teen Teaching program takes eighth graders from both Hill Country and West Ridge middle schools to Pedernales Falls State Park. The trip’s purpose is to promote new connections among the middle schoolers as well as prepare the students for their transition to high school.

In order to prepare for the expedition, chosen sophomore, junior and senior leaders participated in a retreat April 30 to May 2 called Harambe. During the retreat, the students ran through the same activities the eighth graders will do at Pedernales. They also attended sessions that readied them to work with the eighth graders regarding esteem, psychology and individual roles.

“Harambe prepares us for what we experience with the eighth graders and gets us excited to teach them the activities,” senior Sabrina Osborne said.

This year, Pedernales has gone through some major changes. In the past, the excursion has included both team-building and academics such as science, social studies and math. But now, all school-related activities have been cut from the program.

“That was all a big part of doing the trip in the first place — to make sure there’s educational value,” Teen Teaching teacher Tres Ellis said. “The primary purpose [of Pedernales] is to introduce them to a bigger group, [as well as] to interact with one another in different campuses. The most important thing is building relationships.”

Pedernales has been notorious among students as being unenjoyable, so removing the academic activities was a contributing factor in trying to rebuild the reputation of the trip.

“I’m hoping that [the changes] generate a little more excitement from the eighth graders,” Ellis said. “But I think the greater impact will happen in following years, because hopefully this group will have fewer negative thoughts going in.”

Despite the lack of enthusiasm among some eighth graders, the student leaders look forward to it.

“I’m so excited for Pedernales,” junior Mary Beth Burns said. “It’s going to be so much fun. I can’t wait to see all of our hard work pay off.”