By Allison Ashley

It is common for Sonoma Academy students to take a year off between high school and college; it is a chance for students to have learning experience outside the classroom.
These adventures can happen close to home or across the world. Here are what some seniors had to say about the gap year adventures they are embarking on after graduation.
Starting on August 25th, Emily Gaynor is leaving on a 3 month backpacking, rafting, climbing, and mountaineering trip in the Rockies, starting in Wyoming, with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). After that, she plans to go on a service trip in either Argentina or Peru. She will end the year living in Paris and taking language classes at the University of Paris.
Emily says, “[I’m] very excited, and I am most looking forward to travelling and taking a year off from school and being able to concentrate on myself and my love for the outdoors.”
Jenna Powell plans on working towards her Irish dance license while travelling the world with her dance teacher to teach in Europe and Australia. She plans on taking a few writing workshops and hopes to send her work off to publishers. In addition to this, she will be training for the Worlds Irish Dance Competition all year long.
Jenna says she is, “Excited and pretty ready to go travel. I am looking forward to teaching Irish dance to people who don’t speak English because I think it will be a great learning opportunity for me.”
Brenna Mahoney is hoping to travel and volunteer. She is currently looking into a few programs, such as NOLS and Outward Bounds, for semester programs in Patagonia and other locations in South America.
Brenna is, “Super excited to have a break from school and to go on my own type of journey, self-growth, maybe get some scuba diving in (I am scuba diving certified)! After my gap year I hope to be more ready for college!”
Julia Todhunter is leaving June 13th to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She is starting on the border of Washington State and will be backpacking down to the Mexican border. The hike will take about 4.5 months. After that, she wants to travel to either Greece or Kenya and backpack in nearby countries.
Julia says she is, “Super excited, I always knew that I have wanted to take a gap year. I think it is an important transition into our adult lives! I am looking forward to being free to do whatever I want and let go and be spontaneous!”
Sasha Racherbaumer plans on hanging out and taking a break from school and looks forward to travelling to China towards the end of the year.
Sasha said, “[I’m] looking forward to sleeping in every morning and hanging out with other classmates who are also staying close to home. Also I feel pretty relaxed–I felt slight pressure to go to school next year because everyone else is but I’ve come to be happy with my decision.”
So, how do these students feel about starting college a year later?
Emily said, “I am already kind of young, so I will be back in my age range. I think it is a good time to take a year off.”
Jenna said, “It doesn’t really bother me that my classmates will be starting college next year, you feel fine starting next year…It is an opportunity that I don’t want to pass up!”
Brenna said, “I feel sad that I don’t get to be in the same graduating class/time, but in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I also have part of me wishes to feel that excitement to be starting college in 3 months, but I know next year at this time I will be just as excited if not more!”
Julia said, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!”