McNicholas Students and Teachers reflect on the recent Appalachian Retreat

Every year students get the opportunity to go to Tennessee for the Appalachian Retreat. This retreat took place with 12 seniors led by Anne Jones and Jeff Hutchinson from September 13 to 18th in Grainger County, Tennessee. This is an opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone and help those in need.

Tereasa Davis, Theology teacher, who has previously been on the retreat, shares her takeaways. Davis said “We forget where our food comes from.” In Cincinnati, places like Kroger and Walmart you can just walk in and buy food.

Davis continues, “These are the people who pick our food.” The people encountered on the retreat are those working behind the scenes to make our grocery experience so easy.

Senior Jason Kaldmo said “Life there, you only have a number of places to get food and it’s a lot more work to get your food than in Cincinnati.”
Senior Andy Edwards talked about his first reaction when he got there: “It was nothing like I expected, there was a lot of poor people there and I instantly wanted to help.” Edwards continues, “Each morning when I woke up to the amazing sunrise and [I] was excited to help more people.” 

Students pulled weeds, weed whacked, cut down trees, built porches, and moved branches from one place to another. Part of the experience is also getting to know the people of Grainger County.

McNicholas students with leader Anne Jones relaxing with Grainger County community members (Photo attributed to Anne Jones).

Mary Beth Sandmann, Theology teacher, shares “There was a real sense of community down there and our students loved working together.” It can be very easy to take everything for granted and often forget about others. 

The Appalachian retreat was full of memories and students were asked their favorite memories of the trip.

Edwards’s favorite memory was “Going to the Kingswood Orphanage” where they “met the children, learned about them and their stories.”

Kaldmo favorite memory was “doing the work using sledgehammers a drill and helping those people out.” At the end of the experience, Edward feels “It was a blessing to see them and talk with them.”

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