The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Freshmen class laces up skates

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Ellie Menke
The freshmen had a great time at the Midway Plaisance Ice Rink on February 16, 2024.

Freshmen on ice skates might sound like a reckless idea, but it is an important opportunity to create brotherhood at Mount Carmel. On Friday, February 16th, MC hosted its annual Freshmen Ice Skating trip at the Midway Plaisance Park Skating Rink on the campus of the University of Chicago, The trip was organized and led by Mr. John O’Connor, moderator of Freshman First and the head freshman football coach. 

It’s one of the only events in the winter months for the freshmen to have some time away from class and enjoy their MC experience with their classmates.

The first trimester offers the freshman class more events together outside of school time with the football season, Homecoming, and Expedition MC, a trip where they go down to the Lakefront at 63rd Street Beach. These are all opportunities where they can bond with each other, but then a bit of a lull hits. 

Folks at MC realized some years ago that the school needed to address an issue with freshman retention. 

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“We don’t start stuff to just do it,” said freshman counselor Mr. Dan LaCount. “It came from a need we saw years ago. We want to reduce the amount of kids who are thinking of not returning from MC.”

This led to the Freshman First office, which helps freshmen adjust to MC. The skating trip was first organized six years ago. It’s not just about keeping students interested, but also teaching them about the neighborhood around MC.

“We want the freshmen to take away that MC’s campus isn’t just 64th and Dante,” said Coach O’Connor. “We want the freshmen to see everything that is around them in the neighborhood and really appreciate the MC campus as it really is.”

MC is uniquely placed amid the Lakefront, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Jackson Park Golf Course, one of America’s top colleges in the University of Chicago, and even a presidential library under construction. 

“It was pretty good to get off of the school work as finals are coming up,” said Aaron Hyler.

Freshmen either trying not to fall or creating a dance line. (Ellie Menke)

With Trimester 2 Finals in two weeks, this is some time for the freshmen to have some fun before they begin studying. The second trimester can be the hardest due to its length and cold atmosphere, especially for freshmen. 

“I loved the trip, even though I couldn’t ice skate,” said Gavin Williams. “ I’d like to have more events out of school like that to be more free.”

MC likes the opportunity to keep things fresh for students and occasionally get them out of a routine.  A trip like this for the freshmen is an opportunity to have more interaction with fellow students.

“It’s about giving them a moment to bond as a class,” said Mr. LaCount.

The school wants to make a point to the freshmen that MC is more than a school, but a second home to them. Plus with students that come from over 50 grade schools around the Chicago area, it gives them time to get to know each other outside of a school setting.

“During the trip over, I got to walk with some classmates who I don’t see much as well,” said Hyler.

It is without a doubt that education is MC’s focus, but so is creating a close-knit brotherhood that lasts for a lifetime. 

“We’re all about building that brotherhood,” said Mr. LaCount, “and we believe that starts in the freshman year.”

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About the Contributor
Jack Breakey '24, Staff Writer
John “Jack” Breakey is a Senior at Mount Carmel High School. Jack resides on the South Side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood. He also attended grammar school in the neighborhood at St. Cajetan School.  Jack is a member of Caravan Broadcasting Network as their Senior Producer and also a member of the MC Model UN club and a Peer Leader. Outside of school, he’s a member of the Chicago Fire Department Gold Badge Society. For hobbies, Jack enjoys bike riding, watching movies, playing video games, and researching government. One of Jack’s favorite pastimes is listening to music. He is a large fan of rock and roll, especially Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, and the genre of bluegrass. This influence came from his father, Thomas Breakey, Mount Carmel class of 1982, and an active Chicago firefighter. His father has been a large inspiration for Jack, who has become a better man because of his father. Jack's dream job is working in international relations or national security. He researches current world events and conflicts while also being a student of history. Who knows? Jack might become the real Jack Ryan one day.