Alternative Spring Break unites students and alumni

By Megan Palumbo – Sports Editor 

Three groups of Lasell students and alumni teamed up for annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB). One group traveled to Baltimore and Washington D.C., while the other groups visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, TN, and Apple Ridge Farm in Roanoke, VA. Each trip is organized by the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL) and led by two upperclassmen.  

ASB is designed to bring Lasell students together to form new friendships while doing service work that helps communities around the country. Each group has a certain goal or task going in, while every participant gains a better understanding about social issues such as poverty, affordable housing, hunger, and homlessness. 

The first group was on the road to Washington D.C. the first day of spring break. Led by junior Shannon Motz and senior Dustin DaPonte, the group tackled two different cities on one trip, also visiting Baltimore, which has never been done before.

Senior Briana Wrubleski and junior Anja  Matukic were the group leaders for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park trip. “[I have] a strong passion for the National Park Service and community service and wanted to share my passions with other like-minded people on campus,” said Wrubleski on why she chose the National Park destination.

As leaders, Wrubleski and Matukic were given complete control to plan the trip with whatever activities they wanted. The group had different work each day such as clearing hiking trails, ripping up roots and rocks, leveling out trails, and digging drains to prevent flooding.              On their days off from service work, the group took a scenic drive through Cades Cove and enjoyed a challenging hike at Rainbow Falls.

“My favorite moment was seeing how hard everyone was working. It was really physical work and not easy, but not one person complained or stopped working. The positive attitude and work ethic of every member on our trip was outstanding,” said Matukic.

This group of 12 became closely knit by the end of the week. “[They opened] up as if they were family. Community service always teaches me to delegate tasks because a group of individuals who work together can accomplish a lot more than one individual can alone,” said Wrubleski.

ASB offered a trip for alumni and students, which is also a first in ASB history. This student-alumni group visited Apple Ridge Farm, a youth summer camp in Virginia.

“It was interesting to see how the students and alumni interacted by getting to know each other and bonding, growing in different ways in the time we were doing service work. Essentially by the end of the trip it was like there was no age gap,” said Corinne Palmer, a sophomore and co-leader of the student-alumni group.

During the week they restored the camp’s garden, distributed mulch along the property & “adventure ropes course,” helped clean up the hiking trails, and generated ideas for revamping the farm’s website.

This trip was more than just personal growth and completing service work. It was also about previous Lasell students interacting and connecting with current students in a way that hasn’t been done before. 

“The group chemistry was amazing and I believe having alumni on the trip heightened the atmosphere and enriched the experience for students and gave an opportunity to alumni that did not have a chance to participate in ASB when they were students at Lasell,” said Palmer. 

Every group gained mutual awareness and had a successful ASB in each location.

“It’s about building those connections, opening up, and challenging yourself physically and emotionally,” said Matukic.

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