Despite low turnout, students look forward to this fall’s Operation Snowball


Photo by Keith Kedyski

Snowball attendees participate in a workshop during last year’s retreat. Students are excited to return this fall.

Abby Rohe, Staff Writer

To some, high school may seem like a big place. One way Naperville Central students make it feel more like a community is by attending Operation Snowball. Snowball is a fall and spring weekend retreat for District 203 and 204 high school students. The program’s mission is to facilitate a sense of community and positivity.

“There’s something in [Snowball] for everybody because it’s really about being our best selves and how [can] we overcome challenges to do that,” said Traci Fertel, Naperville Central’s Snowball sponsor.“It mixes ninth through 12th graders together so you have that range of experience.”

It is easy to only make friends with other students of the same grade, but setting up groups this way helps students reach out and become friends with a variety of people.

“You can always learn something new,” said senior Madelyn McNab, Teen Director of Snowball. “There are so many people to meet and fun, new things to do.”

This sense of fun and community may be why Snowball is so popular among students.

Around 250 people go to Snowball each weekend, although, “for some reason this fall, our sign up has been down,” Fertel said. “Fall tends to be a little more difficult just because of  DVC and [it lands before] Halloween weekend. The cost has gone up, so we’re working on lowering the cost.”

Snowball depends heavily on word-of-mouth among students, which can spread either a good or bad impression.

“There are all these beliefs about what it might be or who it’s for when it’s really an all-inclusive program that would have a positive impact on anybody,” Fertel said.

These pre-conceived notions that students, especially incoming freshmen, gathered about Snowball may be a factor for the low signups.

It appears that most activities cater to lower classmen because if those students hear about and join activities early, then they are more likely to stay through the rest of their schooling.

“There is always a big push for freshmen [because] then they become sophomores and they will tell their friends, so it’s kind of this big snowball effect of getting the word out,” McNab said.

Many students appreciate Snowball and the life long friendships they make there.

“I think what draws other people to Snowball is their friends go on the weekend and [they]… have a really positive [view] of snowball which transfers over to students’ [views],” McNab said.

This fall’s signup is not reflective of the overall growing trend of Snowball attendees.

“Our numbers at Naperville Central have really grown every year,” Fertel said. “We even added a second weekend in the spring.”   

The signup for this fall’s weekend has ended, but students still interested in going now have two opportunities to go in the spring.