A Day for Community Bonding

Bunny Henault-Bassett ’26 (Features Associate) in Features | May 26, 2024

          On Wednesday, May 8, Lawrenceville held its annual Community Day, an opportunity for current students and alumni to come together over the theme, “Life Stories: Our Points of Connection.” The morning started with an alumni panel featuring a few former Lawrentians who pursued careers creating or sharing stories through media. Katie Baker ’01, Bob Fishman ’65, Christopher Murphy ’11, Bunmi Onitiri ’10, and Wendy Prior Fentress ’90 spoke about their time at Lawrenceville, how the School impacted their lives, and how they now share stories through their careers. After the panel, students had the opportunity to break off into faculty or student-led workshops where participants engaged in different activities and conversations centered around the theme of storytelling.

          Alexa Lewis ’25 ran the event “Slime With a Story.” In this workshop, Lewis and her co-leaders “set up bowls of glue on each table, gave shaving cream, glitter, [and] contact solution” and let their attendees make slime. At the end of their sessions, the leaders asked questions, and the participants told  “stories about [their] lives, possibly connected to the slime [they] made.” Lewis’ favorite part of running her session was “seeing the hilarious mishaps with slime getting on clothes and seeing how some people were truly inexperienced in making slime.”

          Making slime was a big part of many people’s childhoods, like Lewis’ and her co-leaders’, so sharing one of their favorite activities with Lawrenceville students proved a fun and nostalgic experience. Lewis learned that it is “easy to create a fun event to bond with your peers” and that one doesn’t “have to ask deep, personal questions to get a story out of someone,” since a story can originate “from something as simple as making slime.”After this workshop, Lewis felt more bonded with “some of [her] peers [whom she hadn’t] talked to often [by helping them make] their slimes, and she spoke with a few [peers] outside of [her] grade whom [she had] never interacted with before.”

          Grayson Salatto ’25 also participated in “Slime With a Story” and “enjoyed getting to meet new people and hearing stories from their lives.” She thinks that slime-making “brought [everyone] together and gave [them] something to bond over, yet the workshop also opened up windows between everyone.” This session taught Salatto how “fun it is to meet new people and make slime.” Doing random activities with random people is a surprisingly wonderful way to forge new bonds. 

          Sienna Soemitro ’26 led “Doodles and Discussions” alongside three other co-leaders—hoping to foster an environment where people could relax and create art while engaging in simple conversations with a new group of people. In the workshop, they worked on “paint-by-numbers and coloring sheets while discussing a few questions that [the leaders] had prepared beforehand.” The former was a fan favorite, mixing aesthetic images of nature and fun color palettes. Soemitro’s favorite part of running her sessions “was getting to interact with everyone and hearing about different perspectives” by asking questions, which varied between playful anecdotes and personal reflections relating to  participants’ experiences at Lawrenceville. She learned that “running a Community Day Workshop is a lot of work.” As a co-leader, she had to “set up and plan questions...and clean up.” More challenging, however, was “holding a discussion with everyone at once because there were over 15 people in a single session.” Despite the difficulties that came with her leadership, overseeing her workshop helped her engage with the Lawrenceville community because she was “working with a new group of people, some whom [she] knew but also some whom [she] had never talked to before.” Soemitro appreciated the opportunity to “host [her] own workshop with [her] friends after having attended many others through [her] past two years at Lawrenceville.

          Leila Campbell ’26, an attendee of “Doodles and Discussions,” loved the time to be able to “relax and unwind with [her] friends.” As a talented artist herself, Campbell believes art to be “a therapeutic medium intrinsically, and when painting with others, it can be both calming and fun!” The session taught her about paint-by-numbers kits, which she thinks are interesting because “they make you feel like you’re able to make a beautiful image even when you’re [not]talented at art.” Coming out of the workshop, Campbell “felt even closer to [her] friends and people [she] had just met by doing something [she] loves and sharing it with them.”

          There were many other workshops, varying from story exchanges and nature walks to scrapbook making, which all played a part in making Community Day a success and bringing the Lawrenceville community even closer together. Running a workshop was a central part of the day’s success, so the students who took the time and effort to create workshops based on their passions deserve much credit for making Community Day  the commendable event it was.