Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cyclones Showcase Projects @ NYLC @ DC

National Volunteer Week and Global Youth Service Day @

Six Casady freshmen and two faculty members attended Monumental, the 2014 National Service-Learning Conference sponsored by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and Youth Service America (YSA).  Cyclones also participated in A Day at the Hill and the YSA Global Youth Day of Service in our nation's capital. 

      Mr. Jeff Bush represented the third grade team showcasing their award-winning service-learning project Chocolate, Charities, Choice, and Charts. 

      This project expands the students' awareness of social justice and environmental stewardship.  It fits the needs of our community locally and globally by focusing on an array of basic human needs.

As a first time participant to an NYLC Conference, Mr. Bush stated, "What impressed me the most, was the many diverse people--mostly young, but adults too of differing backgrounds--that shared a sense of responsibility for the betterment of our world."

Casady freshmen Ananya B., Claire D., Cathy Z., Johnny L., Miranda T., Turner W., and Mrs. Carmen Clay, Service-Learning Director, showcased the after school care kindness and service advocacy through the arts project, Peace Stone Soup: Peace Week 2013: 11 Days of Global Unity - 9/11-9/21 (IDP: International Day of Peace).  The purpose of Peace Week 2013 was to raise awareness of the themes of each day and promote random (intentional) acts of kindness and  service. . The week also marked the beginning of service initiatives (Students On Service OKC) of the two high school service councils, YAC and Youth LEADOKC.  Turner, Claire, Miranda and Cathy represented the Casady service council YAC (Youth in Action in the Community). Ananya and Johnny, in addition to YAC, these Cyclones also shared service initiatives implemented as members of a city wide cultural competency youth board founded by YAC Junior Chair Sidney J., YLEADOKC (Youth Leaders Engaging Across Differences).

The Casady teen peace team shared with showcase audience what Casady did, what their personal involvement on Peace Week 2013 was, and their plans to implement during Peace Week 2014 and the school year 2014-2015.  

Below, find blog entries and photos by Casady Peace Team members who participated in Monumental.



Sunday, April 13: Final Reflection Breakfast, Return Flight

Miranda facilitated the breakfast reflection. Miranda stated "Well, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning and we are off to head home back to our beloved OKC! This has been an absolute amazing experience, as I , along with the rest of the Peace Team, have gotten the opportunity to meet not only very influential people, but also new friends from all around the world, including Qatar and Taiwan! our day starts with waking up fairly early, checking out, and having one last nice meal before we head to the airport, even if breakfast was a little rushed, I led the breakfast with a reflection on what were some things we could take away from this trip; some answers including presenting with confidence, making new friends, and taking leadership. This is definitely an experience I personally will never forget. And a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Clay! you are the best"

Saturday, April 12: Global Youth Service Day, DC  

Claire facilitated the day's reflection.   She stated, "Our group had a busy but fun-filled Saturday.  In the morning, we took the subway and made our way down to the National Mall to participate in the Global Youth Service Day. There were many activities and showcases to see and do, including a showcase from our friends in Pennsylvania who talked about their project H20 hope.





There was also an opportunity to go and partake in the Cherry Blossom Festival around the Tidal Basin.

The girls (and boys) volunteered with the National Parks Service to clean up the park and pick up trash around the festival. After this experience, the girls took away a whole new appreciation for anyone who deals with sanitation!

After a quick parting message from Secretaries of the Interior and Education, our group made a trek up to Foggy Bottom around George Washington University to grab a bite to eat.

After lunch, we went to the Holocaust Museum and made the most of our short, but thoughtful and reverent time there.

By this time in the day, we were getting a little bit tired, but we took another long walk through DC and the Japanese Cultural Festival on our long journey to dinner at the South African chain "Nandos."

Of course, to celebrate the end of our trip, our hard work, and service-learning, we went to Georgetown and got some tasty cupcakes at Sprinkles.

On Saturday, our group learned the importance of problem solving whether it be trying to change trash bags, trying to hail a taxi, or getting lost in a big city. We also took away a new understanding and appreciation for different professions like garbage men, and different cultures in the Japanese Cultural Festival, and the Holocaust Museum.

Throughout the duration of our trip, our group advocated for a more aware and accepting society. By participating in Saturday's activities and going to the different venues, our group really practiced what we preached, a thing that is so often said, but rarely done." -Claire D.

Friday, April 11: Showcase Day II, End of the Conference

Ananya facilitated the conference reflection.  She stated, "his conference was an eye-opening experience. “Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight, but rather while their companions slept they were toiling upwards in the night” -Longfellow. The people I met and spoke to were these people. 

I was amazed and inspired by their stories, those little memories we cling to have more value than any amount of numbers and statistics can attempt to deduce when describing a person.


With representative from Ministry of Education of Singapore



I left more aware of the problems that plague not only our nation but us as a global community, but what I learnt was not to be discouraged, one person can make a difference, one life matters, the power of one. “From my rotting body flowers will grow, and I in them am immortal” -Edvard Munch. Selfish needs spew from greed, but to be selfless inspires true creativity in giving voicing something that will out live you, and that is your chance at immortality. - Ananya B.  


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Workshop of Service-Learning 101 by Mrs. Kaye, Service-Learning Consultant


 Closing Plenary: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Thursday, April 10, Breakfast Networking

Cathy facilitated the reflection of the day. Cathy stated, "In the morning the first thing we did was set up our showcase. One thing we were all amazed to see is how our ideas, that we have been planning for a few months, came to life. After setting up we ate breakfast.

First Showcase Inquiry @ Breakfast, Educators from School in NYC
Then came our first workshop, most of us were pretty confused, since this was our first conference, but most of the workshops were informative and interesting. What I liked was that there were so many choices of workshops so we can choose something that we are passionate about.


Opening Plenary: Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is a retired United States Supreme Court justice, and in 2013 was listed as a NAFTA adjudicator. She served as an Associate Justice from her appointment in 1981 by Ronald Reagan until her retirement from the Court in 2006. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Court.[1] From Wikipedia

Following our workshop we went to a plenary, where we heard many inspirational speakers including Sandra Day O'Connor, Arne Duncan, Cassandra Lin, and more. We all agreed that Cassandra was one of the most inspirational because she showed us that even though she is young, she can make a difference in the world.

After this we had lunch, then presented our showcase about Peace Week. It was amazing to talk to others, even people older than us and share our ideas with them so they can bring Peace week to their schools and communities.

 Fair Trade Chocolate Project Showcase, Thursday April 10


Mr. Bush with Vice-President of Shinnyo-en Foundation and Qatar Foundation teens and faculty from Argentina

  Casady Peace Week Showcase - 1:00- 2:00 PM Exhibit Hall



Impact of intentionally celebrating 9/21,2013 International Day of Peace and promoting a cease of violence: The Peace Day 2013 McKinsey & Company Report found that:

  • Across the world, 470 million people in 200 countries were aware of Peace Day 2013.
  • Peace Day 2013 has built on the tremendous success of 2012, increasing awareness by a further 68%, or 190 million.
  • Approximately 1-2% of those aware of Peace Day (4-8 million) behaved more peacefully in their own lives as a result, improving the world for thousands of others.
  • That is equivalent to the entire populations of Libya or Nicaragua.
  • With the support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Peace One Day has committed to a 3-year project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes Region of Africa, with the aim of creating a broadly observed regional day of ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September.

More information about the impact of observing the 21st of September is found at

Cyclones with Ben
Tsutomu Ben Takagi became the Vice President of the Shinnyo-en Foundation Board of Directors and of Shinnyo-en Foundation on February 25, 2011.
 The Foundation promotes a more harmonious and peaceful world. Supports community-based organizations and educational institutions. Encourages youth leadership in interfaith dialogue and action, service, volunteerism, and peace building.

Then, we went to two more workshops, and dinner. Lastly we went to the Monuments by Moonlight tour with some students from a school in Pennsylvania.

 During this conference I have gotten closer to all my classmates and even got to meet new friends from around the United States and from around the world. I learned that if I'm passionate about a subject I can use this subject to help others, which also helps me grow as a person. I will never forget the conference because I learned youth are not only our future leaders but also our leaders now."



Wednesday, April 9th @ the Hill and Opening Plenary

Today was Capitol Hill day in DC, where we went to different government buildings, such as the Library of Congress and the office buildings of the Senators and Representatives. Sadly we were not able to meet any of the actual senators or representatives in person but we did have the privilege of speaking to the spokespeople of each representatives and senators, that represent Oklahoma. We all did agree though that there was one spokesperson that we all enjoyed talking to and sharing our ideas and thoughts on our own passions. Even though we got kind of lost looking for certain rooms, we still  had time for our group picture! - Johnny

Before Ananya's speeches to Oklahoma Senators and Representatives
with guides from New Foundations School in Pennsylvania and Jake, a teacher from Taiwan

With our guides from New Foundations School in Pennsylvania
Ananya represented the Casady Peace Team @ Capitol Hill.  She was the spokeswoman of the group and wrote the team's project showcase that was left for senators and representative to read.  She also sent thank you letters to our Oklahoma senators and representative

For information on Monumental, the National Service-Learning Conference, please contact the National Youth Leadership Council: 1667 Snelling Ave N #D300 l Saint Paul, MN 55108 l (651) 631-3672 l

Thank you for meeting with us! We are participating in the National Service-Learning Conference, an intergenerational event that brings together a rich diversity of youth and adults who share a commitment to improving our nation’s schools and offering young people opportunities for service and leadership. Convened by the National Youth Leadership Council for the past 25 years, over 1,500 attendees will gather in Washington, DC, this week, culminating in a Day of Service on the National Mall near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, April 12. Please join us!

My name is Ananya Bhaktaram, from Casady School located at 9500 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73120. You can contact me via email at XXX my cell phone XXX or a letter sent to address to me (Ananya Bhaktaram) and sent to Casady School.

I am currently working on a project we call 11 days of Unity. What comes to mind when you think of peace? For us at Casady, it all started with a pinwheel. That small, seemingly insignificant gesture has turned into 11 days of activism to bring awareness of our need for kindness, resourcefulness, and peaceful interactions in out community.


I remember first becoming a part of Peace Week in the 5th grade making pinwheels to plant around our campus lake on International Day of Peace (September 21st).  Had you told me that I would be here today, four years later, I probably would have scoffed at the idea, as it went in one ear and out the other. But like that little girl who grew up with a pinwheel in her hand, this project has grown. I cannot take all the credit for this. Our service director Mrs. Clay started the peace initiative with the passion to have children realize their potential. I know for a fact I
would not be the person I am today with out her, and without this project.

This past September 11th-September 21st, we hosted 11 Days of Global Unity at Casady School.  Each day represented a core topic.  The topics represented this year were Unity (9/11), Interdependence (9/12), Environment (9/13), Economic Justice (9/14), Health (9/15), Children and Teens (9/16), Women (9/17), Human Rights (9/18), Freedom (9/19), Disarmament (9/20), International Day of Peace- Day of Service (9/21). Each day allowed students to become more aware of challenges that we face here at home and that our brothers and sisters face around the globe.  Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for; we are the change that we seek. Peace One Day Impact of awareness of IDP

You can help us by joining us at home, spreading it to your friends and family, and backing our
initiative here in Washington through these pieces of legislation, which will provide the opportunity for Americans of all ages to serve and to become active participants engaged in improving their community.

Additionally, we ask for your support on the following:

Co-sponsor and support H.R.1802 - Sandra Day O'Connor Civic Learning Act of 2013 To authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to promote civic learning and engagement, including service-learning, and for other purposes.
Co-sponsor and support H.R. 2268 - Engaging Students Through Service-Learning To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to authorize a national elementary and secondary service-learning program that promotes student achievement, and for other purposes.
Co-sponsor (or become an original co-sponsor) to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to increase academic achievement by making it easier for current funding to be used to support professional development for educators to implement service-learning aligned with instructional outcomes; build capacity for state and local education agencies; and to support evaluation to ensure best practices, knowledge of what works and areas for improvement. (H.R. XXXX or contact Rebecca Taylor in Rep. Betty McCollum’s office at 225- 6631).
Support continued funding for peer-to-peer learning strategies to increase teen driving safety and awareness through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act Century Act (MAP-21) (Public Law 112-141)

Again, thank you for your time today and your work supporting your constituents of all ages!

Around the Hill on Capitol Hill Day



Opening NYLC Plenary


Conference Exhibit Hall Welcome Party



Tuesday, April 8th, Departure and Arrival in DC



Wednesday, February 9th, 2014, Written at 1:44 AM

Yesterday was our departure day from OKC to DC. This being my first time flying in about nine years, I experienced the TSA for the first time.

Our flight was delayed by about 20 minutes or so, but it was just fine. I entertained myself on the ride by reading the comic "V for Vendetta" that my friend had given me, and it is an excellent read, on par with 1984 in depicting and discussing totalitarian/fascist governments in my opinion.

After our brief stop in Atlanta, we flew to DC, and made it in a reasonable time of about 10 o'clock or so. We checked into our hotel, which is just a Mariott and yet is multi-faceted (as in multiple buildings,) architecturally striking, and looks as though we are staying in a luxury hotel. This general air was corroborated when we walked about trying to find food, and we're greeted by colonial-looking, almost Bostonian apartment buildings.

We ate at The Diner (not even joking, we ate at a diner named "The Diner",) and the roof had an incredibly intricate design that really fascinated me. It seems to me that every single nook and cranny of DC has culture and art packed into it.

Tomorrow we shall be meeting with Representatives/Senators, talking about Service-Learning and other issues important to us. We're all very excited for the conference and what we will be taking away from it. We reflected (admittedly via text, but regardless) about it, and the general consensus was that we were all looking forward to learning new ideas, especially how to better advocate the ideals of peace. Today was a relaxing prelude, and tomorrow is going to be a fun opening to representing our school. I am excited beyond measure. But for now, it's 2 AM and I am extremely tired. DC, prepare yourself.


Emerging Project after the conference

            I am trying to start a project that helps primarily Elementary students from low socio-economic background as well as those who may additional face a language barrier. I am in the process of applying for a grant to fund this, for some reason if the grant is not authorized I have contacted the Metropolitan Library, Come and Read With Me Program in hopes of them donating some Children’s books, in order to launch the project till funds can be provided.

         Through some research I have found out that the Public School system stops teaching students reading Skills in the 3rd grade, so those who are behind by the 3rd grade are simple left behind. Without simple reading comprehension this inevitable leads to the student to always be behind creating a divide the achievement gap.

Connect-Building Collaborations with Curricular areas and community partners
         My project calls for a collaboration with our language department, in particular the Spanish department. I personally love books, and I would like to share that love of books. In some ways this proposal can be viewed as a supplementary curriculum. I would like to start with phonetics, then move on to simple bilingual children’s books, whether they are actually bilingual or translated by hand to English -by language class students-and as students slowly get better by passing through levels based on reading comprehension, move on to harder books the amount of Spanish (the crutch) decreases.

      I know through myself and my peers, students are more motivated when they get something out of it. So I propose a fake money system, for each level a student passes they get a “fictional dollar” (i haven’t come up with a catchy name yet). Once they accumulate a certain amount of dollars they can purchase small gifts from a store the better the prize the more dollars it costs. This teaches kids the value of saving and spending their own money as well as giving them incentive to pass reading levels.

         Once a certain reading level is reached students will have an opportunity to write their own stories, whether they are fictional or based on their own lives, and I’d like theses students to send their stories in English to our lower division to share with our students, so they know from an early age that there is more out there than just Casady, and maybe in response some of our students will send stories of their own back to these students.

       I have contacted the Principles from Bodine, Britton, Cesar Chavez, and Johnson Elementary schools. I thought It would be better to start with schools near us (Casady) and then branch out.

Funding for the Project
        Let me know your thoughts and Ideas. Please keep in mind I am working with a deadline which is 11:59 PM ET on May 2. So if this project is to be started it needs to be sent, and have enough backing to be competitive with other grants in the region.  Grant refereed to is State Farm YAB Grant Ananya. B.