Operation Snowball tossed to GBN

Varsha John, Executive Copy Editor

With her peers at Hinsdale’s Operation Snowball event, Senior Samantha Rothman (second from the right) sings “I’m a Little Teapot.” Rothman and four other Glenbrook North students joined Hinsdale’s program last winter in hopes to gain inspiration to bring a similar program to GBN. Photo by Kim Hill.

From a teetering box high above a group of strangers, senior Samantha Rothman fell. Luckily, her trust exercise group members at the Operation Snowball retreat were right there to catch her.

At the Hinsdale Township High School District’s Operation Snowball event, Rothman participated in a team-building course in order to bring her snowball group, a discussion circle of students, closer together.

“The funny thing was that I ended up falling off of the block before I was ready and before they were ready and they still caught me,” Rothman said.

According to Rothman, the whole experience made her confident that she could trust and build a strong relationship with her group mates. Rothman enjoyed the experience so much, she was determined to bring the program to Glenbrook North High School.

Rothman is one of the five student directors of Operation Snowball, a school-sponsored three-day retreat, who created a similar event at GBN.

According to Mike Waxman, one of Operation Snowball’s directors, Operation Snowball is about providing teenagers a community that encourages healthy decision making.

The retreats are new ways for kids to learn about “leadership and make the right choices,” Waxman said.

“It’s not like that same old ‘Just Say No’ speech yelled at the kids, its actually relatable and applicable to students,” Waxman said.

For Rothman, the experience was like nothing she ever experienced before.

“There’s always a relevant drug and alcohol free sort of approach, but it’s more about getting to know yourself, getting to know other people through different activities,” Rothman said.

At Operation Snowball events, students listen to presentations and group speakers and engage in team-building exercises between small groups.

“Snowballs are all about connecting through others by exercises and discussions,” said Waxman. “Students listen to presentations that address issues they face like stress, home life, relationships and then talk about the presentations with other students.”

According to Peter Allen, one of the GBN student directors, students at GBN have already responded well to the idea of Operation Snowball.

“… A lot of juniors and seniors applied to be snowball leaders at the end of last year for the upcoming event, so we know there’s a good amount of kids who want to do it,” Allen said.

According to Allen, snowball leaders guide discussions between students.

In addition to the snowball leaders, the event is scheduled to take place Feb. 20-22 and will take all interested students. Applications for the event will be available for pickup in the Student Services office at a later date.

“All grades can come as a participant,” said Rothman. “…You’ve probably been to all the quintessential GBN events, but this is completely different.”

According to Rothman, what makes it so different is the connection students make with each other.

“You realize you have a lot in common with other people …you build relationships with people through that,” Rothman said. “We’ve done Homecoming and Turnabout and stuff like that, but this was something like no other. I think it’s something that all kids should get to do.”