One of the things that used to happen at our school is on the night of the most senior class, after the class, about half of us would site outside ummmm, drinking pop, yea pop.
However, we did have some amazing philisophical discussions about the art. (Also people would try sneaking up on each other from behind when joining the group and other similar pranks.)
This kind of bonding meeting played out over years, did translate back into the dojo.
I would suggest, pick one night a month or a week that you know a lot of folks are going to class, and then have a time about 1/2 hour after that class and a room where everyone gets together and just chats about their art with each other.
You'll need food or pop to get them to show up and relax.
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