By Heather Fabritze
Student Life Editor
The Washington College Student Government Association hosted its first-ever retreat to promote leadership skills among student senators.
In the past, the SGA hosted leadership workshops, but never sessions intended specifically for expanding the knowledge of senators.
The retreat was originally planned over the course of two days.
A bonfire and cookout was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 30 at the Quad Fire Pit, with the actual workshop retreat on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the waterfront campus. However, Friday’s schedule was canceled due to weather.
The second part of the retreat, which ran as planned, was arranged as a series of workshops intended to “build…leadership skills,” learn more about the SGA, plan for the future, and to “meet all the senators,” according to an email sent out to the student body by the SGA on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Transportation was provided in the form of a shuttle service with t-shirts and free pastries from Evergrain Bread Company in Chestertown being available for the first 50 students who arrived.
Check-in for the day started at 11:30 a.m. in the Hodson Boathouse, before the opening welcome from the SGA executive board at noon. Senators were then invited to share their names and roles in the SGA, prompting discussion.
Freshman Mikayla Silcox said that she appreciated the opportunity to get to know her fellow senators outside of the senate’s weekly meetings.
“I think it’s a great way to get more involved in senate and learn more about the different committees, and to talk to more people in senate than just in senate meetings,” Silcox said.
SGA Speaker of the Senate senior Nick Splendoria said that he and his co-planner for the retreat, Parliamentarian senior Maegan White, wanted to make use of the retreat’s more informal nature.
“Senate is pretty structured and there is not as much opportunity for leadership development or bonding, and the retreat gives them, and us, the space to do that,” Splendoria said.
The group then broke into class years at 12:30 p.m. for class officer sessions. These meetings were led by each year’s class officers who were in attendance and focused on planning for the remainder of the semester.
These sessions also allowed for more in-depth discussions in smaller groups.
Class of 2026 Secretary Brooke Thomas, along with her class’ other officers, have already begun planning for ideas they may implement as the year progresses.
“We’re gonna have a discussion box where if people have complaints, they can leave them and we can look at them and try to address them,” Thomas said. “And also a sticky note wall of different event ideas or community service ideas.”
At 1 p.m., the retreat’s breakout sessions commenced with the first workshop options– a class on public speaking led by SGA Secretary of Service and Community Relations sophomore Stephen Hook and a workshop on Robert’s Rules, the language for motioning in senate meetings, led by Splendoria and White.
Thomas said she looked forward to attending the public speaking workshop to better prepare for her role as secretary.
“I’m hoping to be comfortable speaking to groups of people instead of in conversation, because I feel like now that we have the officer meetings that’s kind of gonna have to be what that’s like,” Thomas said.
The next round of workshops, starting at 1:20 p.m., were another Robert’s Rules session and a class on making connections with administration led by SGA President senior Alex May and Secretary of Student Life junior Kamden Richardson.
The final round was a second session on making connections and a workshop on representing your class led by Hook.
The schedule for the retreat finished with a strategic planning session involving both the senators and the executive board. This session involved brainstorming goals that the SGA has regarding the student body and the school community in the coming academic year.
Senate meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Norman James Theater. For those interested in becoming a student senator, contact Splendoria at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of Maegan White.
Photo Caption: The Class of 2026 officer session involved planning goals and initiatives for this academic year.