Friday, June 3, 2011

Casady's Challenge 20/20 History

Casady's NAIS Challenge 20/20  was a roller coaster ride, worth the price of admission, of youth voice, choice, and process from its inception. Casady Upper Division students have concentrated in helping two millennium goals of the United Nations: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and insure environmental sustainability. As senior leaders graduate, emerging freshman leadership takes over the projects and direct the mission through innovative paths.


Our Challenge 20/20 exploration started when Andrew Griffin’07 was a freshman. His idea was to import children’s art from remote villages, sell it and use the proceeds to meet educational needs of underserved children around the world. NAIS paired Andrew with Bishop McAllister College in Uganda and a museum youth board in Ollantaytambo, Peru because we had teachers at Casady with direct connections to those countries. The relationship with the Ugandan school was short, but the high school’s Headmaster has visited Oklahoma City and the Casady campus several times. Our community has supported his school’s needs for several years. In July, 2011, Casady students visited Bishop McAllister College in June-July 2011 with a video-reflection service-learning project

Andrew’s search for an Oklahoma City partner culminated with World Neighbors (WN) .htm. Andrew discovered that a relative of his was the founder of WN. Researching WN. Andrew found, WorldFest, WN's yearly fundraiser. WorldFest sells imported goods from villages with proceeds supporting projects in those villages. This made WN a perfect Challenge 20/20 project partner for Andrew. Andrew became a founding member of the WN Youth Board. In the two years that Andrew led the Board, the Youth Board raised $20,000. Casady students still participate in World Neighbors WorldFest activities.

Andrew found fertile ground for his vision of erradicating poverty and hunger with creative solutions in two caring students, Leann Farha’08 and Ankita Prasad’08. Lean took the leadership of the global hunger fighting component. Ankita led the local ending childhood hunger initiative.

Leann took the lead to end childhood hunger when she organized the first grassroots Walk the World OKC’05 benefiting the United Nations World Food Programme, School Feeding. She was a United Nations World Food Programme guest at the Walk the World 2005 debriefing in Rome, Italy. Upon her return from Italy, Leann led Walk the World OKC’2006-2008 raising $27,000. Leann’s efforts led to an increased number of walkers every year. She was also an active WN Youth Council member. Leann stated that four years with the project enabled her to overcome insecurities and transformed a shy girl, terrified of public speaking into a confident leader, an effective communicator, and organizer. In a brief reflection of her four years with WtW, Leann stated, “I received more than I gave fighting to eradicate childhood hunger.”

Our NAIS Challenge 20/20 relationship with the museum youth board in Peru started very simply with their bilingual exposure to the book High Noon, 20 global challenges and 20 years to solve them. The museum’s youth board sought collaboration with a local elementary school of Ollantaytambo, Peru. The Youth Board and Manco Inca Elementary School hosted a Walk the World,Ollantaytambo’06. The connection with the Youth Board ended when the sponsor left since he was the facilitator of the emerging Internet in Ollantaytambo, Peru.

Manco Inca Elementary School became our Global Service-Learning Education partner after the walk. In June 2008, the first group of Casady Service-learning students arrived in Ollantaytambo. World Leadership School was our travel service learning facilitator  and our Challenge 20/20 Global Warming Group wrote a grant to Facing the Future,, that empowered the group to take a digital camera and a printer for the elementary school to document their efforts on climate change and recycling. In June 2009, the second group from Casady School arrived in Ollantaytambo to continue making the dream of the Children of Ollantaytambo a reality. In total, fifteen Casady students and three faculty members traveled to Peru to participate in a combined service, language immersion, and homestay experience managed by World Leadership School and implementing a service project provided by the Peruvian non-profit, Ania, Land of Children,  In collaboration with other independent schools such as Lakeside of Seattle (in its 8th year in Ollantaytambo) and Groton School of Boston, Casady students transformed a pile of rubble into an ecological playground –“LAND OF CHILDREN”- designed and maintained by the children of Manco Inca Elementary School. . The children with guidance from US teens have also developed a recycling program for their school and are now expanding the program to their homes and town.  The teens from the United States have gained knowledge of the Quechua language, enhanced understanding of fair trade practices, and an appreciation of a slow pace of life that reverances nature.

In June 2009, Casady students presented their experience in Ollantaytambo at the Second International Service-Learning Conference in Teacher Education in Galway, Ireland. Casady students hope to return to Ollantaytambo in June, 2012 when they will promote the creation of a trilingual picture book of the Ollantaytambo, Land of Children experience in collaboration with the non-profit, What Kids Can Do,, and In Our Village: The faculty leader of the second Ollantaytambo trip, Kari Bornhoft, stated, “When asked to take a group of students to Peru, I had mixed emotions. I would have the chance to see one of the great wonders of the world (Machu Picchu), to experience another Latin culture, to spend time with a group of students in a way no other educator can in normal conditions… The two weeks I spent in Peru were exhausting. It was an incredible learning experience for both the students and faculty. We grew as a team and did equally as individuals. All of us had our highs and lows and as we were stretched found our capabilities mentally, physically, and emotionally.” The Casady Summer Service-Learning program remained dormant in 2010 and 2011. We hope to resume our work in the summer of 2012

Leann's Walk the World OKC continued in June 2009 when a group of freshmen boys led by Graham Bennett’12 and Richard Clements'12 took the leadership of the project and had 25 walkers around the Casady Lake and raised $2,000. In June 2010, 8th grader, Shiva Bhupathiraju'14 helped by YAC members Josh Ou'11 and Sarah Cox'10 facilitated the Walk the World 2010 around the State Capitol. The Walk had 20 walkers and raised $ 600 for the United Nations World Food Programme and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Food-4-Kids Program. The walk also promoted ZUMBA as an alternative way to be active and have fun. On May 29, 2011, a freshmen member of YAC, Jashmine Shoureh'14 and 8th grader, Catherine Claire Christie'15 facilitated Walk the World OKC2011 in collaboration with the Food Bank,the United Nations Association of Greater Oklahoma, the Respect Diversity Foundation and the Middle Division International Club. Before the walk, Jasmine facilitated YAC's first Global Youth Service Day at the Food Bank where she promoted the walk. Jasmine motivated people to learn about the UN World Food Programme and child feeding programs at the Food Bank through video games. Catherine Claire and Jessica Greene, 8th grade International Club Presidents promoted the walk in the middle School and raised $100 for WfP and the Food Bank through baked good sales. 50 people participated in the Walk which took place on Memorial Weekend around the Casady Lake. $ 900 were raised as of June 19, 2001 with proceeds from restaurants and Casady's International Club pending to be tabulated.

The Challenge 20/20 local initiative to erradicate poverty and hunger was headed by Ankita Prasad’08, who during her freshman year wore a “can costume” to motivate lower division students to donate for our canned food drive. The costume was a legacy from a service-learning project headed by Dana Rowland'04. As Ankita learned about related global issues of poverty and the problems with inconsistent communication with our partners international schools, she realized that perhaps the best focus was the creation of global issues youth councils following the guidelines for Global Issues Networks described in the book High Noon, 20 global problems and 20 years to solve them. She promoted the idea with our partners in Uganda and Peru without success.

Ankita attended the NAIS Challenge 20/20 leaders’ conference in Boston and became a member of the Students against Hunger Youth Board at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and of the World Neighbors Youth Board. She was also a “priceless” summer intern at World Neighbors and she became the preferred youth advisor when organizations explored youth board possibilities for their institutions. As the leader of Challenge 20/20 for local solutions, the canned food drive became the Casady Cans Do Project. Casady Cans Do quadrupled our whole school contribution to the Food Bank during Ankita’s tenure. She added learning components such as categorization games and canned sculpture competitions. She promoted “Food Bank Lunches” to raise awareness of what meals the Food Bank provide from donations. She also inspired ceramics classes to make bowls for silent auction during the Food Bank lunch as a reminder of the kids whose bowls would be empty in the evening. Proceeds of the Empty Bowls Silent Auction went to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Food-4-Kids Program. She was also part of Walk the World, but her goal was to seek funding and awareness of the hunger problem in Oklahoma City.

Ankita presented Casady's NAIS Challenge 20/20 at the First International Service-Learning Conference in Teacher Education in Brussels in collaboration with Phillips Andover Academy and developed an informal NAIS Challenge 20/20 Global Warming partnership with one of the conference participants, a history teacher, from the American School in Brussels. She also presented the NAIS Challenge 20/20 opportunity at the Department of Environmental Quality-Earth Day 2008 Celebration at the Oklahoma City Zoo, which started a collaboration between Casady School and the Oklahoma Green Schools. Ankita stated, “Service Learning is a great way for Casady students to give back to their community. I believe that participating in service learning not only benefits our community but also broadens student’s outlook on life. Service Learning has given me so many opportunities to change my school, my community and finally my world. Projects like Challenge 20/20 help Casady students become connected to schools across the world and discuss local problems in a global setting. The Casady Cans Do project has raised awareness and collected funds to help eradicate hunger in Oklahoma. No matter what your passion is, you can find a service learning project that is right for you.”

Eradicating poverty locally became the focus of the Casady Student Council and YAC in 2009-2011. STUCO in collaboration with YAC led the Casady Cans Do 2010 competitions. In 2011, we did not beat the record year established by Ankita, but we raised over 8,0000 pounds in cans and provided a $1,300 check to the Food Bank. STUCO also led the fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity. YAC member, Cecil Ray, facilitated the construction of the first house Casady students partially build. STUCO in collaboration with YAC and winter sports athletes and coaches framed "our habitat house" on MLK day. STUCO presented a check to the CEO of Habitat for close to $3,000 raised in various fundraising activities.


During Ankita’s senior year, members of the Class of 2011 shifted the focus of the Casady Challenge 20/20 project to awareness of the human print in global warming and climate change. Rebecca Roach’11 and Josh Ou’11 became the Challenge 20/20 leaders at Casady School. They read High Noon, watched The Inconvenient Truth, contacted Sierra Club representatives and Casady faculty to raise awareness and help promote recycling in our school. Josh and Rebecca wrote and were awarded a Facing the Future grant to provide cameras to document climate change in OKC and Peru. Our international discussion collaborators in the area of Global Warming/Climate Change challenge were the school in Brussels which Ankita brought on board after her NAIS Challenge 20/20 at Casady Presentation; Mount Saint Mary School of Pennsylvania, and the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica. These efforts were not very successful, yet Josh created a website and we learned how to have SKYPE teleconferences with Costa Rican students.

Rebecca and Josh focused on recyling and awareness and reduction of carbon footprint and changing usage of plastic water bottles to aluminum. One of the adult sponsors of this project was also interested in awareness of ecological footprint and energy conservation. Thanks to an "informal partnership" with the Oklahoma Green Schools Pilot Program, Josh obtained recycling bins to promote recycling of cans and plastic and he developed a stronger collaboration with the Casady Environmental Club and the Casady administrative efforts in turning our school greener. Josh stated, "When I first joined the Challenge 20/20 group my freshmen year, I was completely oblivious that I would become the president of this group my junior year. During the early stages, we would have only dreamt of having a cans and plastic recycling on a regular bases; we are also in the process of constructing two new LEED buildings on our campus.”

Our Challenge 20/20 partners in 2009-2010 were a school in China and a school in New York. The Casady group, lead by Josh Ou'11 tried to communicate with the school in China with no response. We managed to communicate with the school in New York a couple of times. They were active in promoting awareness of carbon footprint in younger students and we were told that they created a manual for that purpose. We asked them to send the information to be shared with our MD and LD, but the exchanged did not happen. Internally, the NAIS Challenge 20/20 work continued its focus on Global Warming, mostly through recycling weekly and selling alluminun water bottles. Following the leadership of the school in New York, Casady's Challenge 20/20 became more proactive at mentoring the Middle Division Environmental Club. On Earth Day, we planted 10 trees in collaboration with the Middle Division. The Green Schools Committee helped us get the trees. They also linked us to an architectural firm that enhanced our understanding of LEED constructions, since our school was building the first LEED certified building on campus. The Challenge 20/20 team promoted the usage of alluminum water bottles to replace the plastic that is polluting our oceans due to our love for convenience. The Challenge 20/20 group enhanced its awareness of the problem, but its effort to make it public were limited by their busy academic, artistic, and sports schedule.

Casady NAIS Challenge 20/20 leaders, as a result of being part of the pilot green school program unoficially, received recycling containers to increase our Environmental Club recycling program from paper only to plastic and cans. During Earth Day 2010, Challenge 20/20 brought alternative energy cars on campus. Upper, Middle, and Lower Division students were introduced to electric cars. Josh, the leader of Challenge 20/20 received an award in the form of funding to attend the Six Billion Paths to Peace Retreat in San Francisco based on his work from freshmen to junior year as a Challenge 20/20 YAC member and leader.  Josh continued to be part of the Environmental Club in 2010-2011. He designed a very attractive t-shirt for the environmental club 2010-2011.  He also provided guidance to the NAIS Challenge 20/20 in 2010-2011 leader, Salman Hamid'14

In the school year 2010-2011 NAIS Challenge 20/20 became a path to peace for a freshman student. Salman, a student who came from the only Oklahoma Green School in 2010, Deer Creek, had the goal of motivating other schools in our city and globally to LIVE GREEN. He developed a partnerhip and applied to be a member of the Oklahoma Green Schools Pilot Program. /
NAIS Challenge 20/20 provided a school in Turkey as a partner during the school year 2010-2011. The School in Turkey changed from reforestation to global warming and became Casady's NAIS Challenge 20/20 partner school. The teams communicated twice in 2010 and twice in 2011 via SKYPE. The sponsor in Turkey changed due to maternity leave of absence. Salman offered Mr. Les Pace, energy expert from Oklahoma Green Schools and the Green School website, as resources for the Turkey program.

Salman read parts of the book, High Noon, and then concentrated in learning about the Green Schools Oklahoma program and helping them find a kids' friendly carbon footprint online calculator. He realized he had been led at Deer Creek, but he did not know enough to lead others with the tools provided by the Green Schools Pilot program. During MLK Day, he organized a "train the trainer" workshop, where interested Casady students had the opportunity to help the Oklahoma Green Schoool decide what kids and teacher friendly carbon footprint survey they were going to promote in their website. Experts from the Oklahoma Green Schools use this time with possible members of the Casady Green Team YES to demonstrate how to use energy audit tools also.

Salman helped recruit Mercy School as a pilot Green School and did a follow-up with Keystone Adventure School, an elementary school, which due to flooding, did not finish its certification as a green school last year.

Salman in collaboration with Mr. Les Pace also helped a Casady 7th grader do an energy audit of the 7th grade rooms as her project for the Casady MD science fair. Katie's energy audit project won first place in the science competition regionals.

April, 5-9, 2011, Salman attended the National Service-Learning Conference in Atlanta, where he had a short presentation of his path to peace, Greening Oklahoma, one school and one person at a time to the Shinnyo-en fellows and participants interested in the stories of how 3 schools around the USA (Casady-OKC, Blake School-Minneapolis, and White Plains-New York) were Actualizing the Six Billion Paths to Peace Initiative of the Shinnyo-en Foundation .

Upon Salman's return to Oklahoma City, Shiva joined the Casady Green Team and helped Salman work at the Planet Nichols Hills Earth Day Birthday Celebration. Salman and Shiva had a booth where they demonstrated the Green Schools Tool Kit and motivated people to take an online carbon footprint survey. They conducted an energy audit of our LEED certified math building and started a turn off lights and computers campaign in the Upper Division at the end of each school day.

Shiva and Mrs. Clay participated in the Environmental Club, Adopt a Street Clean-up to celebrate Earth Day. The clean-up was part of a city initiative sponsored by OKC Beautiful  called Litter Blitz. As the article  states, Casady students also found out that the majority of the litter comes from cigarrette buds. Salman had intentions of asking Environmental Club students to take the carbon footprint survey before or after the clean-up, but due to illness, he was unable to attend.

Mrs. Clay requested interested Environmental Club members take the ecological footprint survey available at the the Green School website. The few people who took the ecological footprint realized that it took at least 5 earths to allow us to live the way we live now.

In the middle of June,Salman started an internship for the Oklahoma Green Schools Program at the Department of Environmental Quality to learn more about recycling and provide the youth perspective to the Oklahoma Green Schools website.

The School in Turkey welcomes Salman and possible NAIS Green Team YES members as partners in the school year 2011-2012.  This is the first year we are requesting to be re-assigned to a school.  We look forward to the possibilities under the leadership of passionate environmentalist, Salman Hamid'14.

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