by Noel Quiñones, BFS CAS Coordinator
On April 24, 2017, the Pearl Street Meeting House erupted with applause as seven students took to the stage to share the intersections between their passions and their projects for this year’s C.A.S. Project Collection. These students included Ben Francis ‘17, Maalik Dunkley ‘17, Isaiah Richards ‘17, Emmitt Sklar ‘17 & Sophia Lipkin ‘16 , and Caila French ‘17 .
As Ben Francis ‘17 states “You should do your C.A.S. Project on something you are really, really interested in because I did my C.A.S. Project on Swimming and it was something I loved to do.”
Ben Francis ‘17 with the first ever BFS Swim Team.
For the past nine months Brooklyn Friends 12th and 11th Graders have been changing the face of the C.A.S. Program. Through both internal and external community building our students have identified their passions and aligned them with concrete needs they see around them.
The C.A.S. Program is one-third of the International Baccalaureate Core, alongside the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge course. Together these programs exist beyond the standard subject load in an effort to allow students to build upon their interests and apply their learning to the real world. Yet Brooklyn Friends believed so strongly in the C.A.S. Program it was integrated as a graduation requirement for all students, even those who do not choose to pursue a full IB Diploma. C.A.S. stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service, lasting 18 months as it bridges the 11th and 12th grades. Students engage in experiences that fall under one of these three threads as they both identify their areas for growth in life-long passions and challenge themselves to engage in new and exciting opportunities. The Program culminates in a C.A.S. Project, combining two or more of the three threads and requiring them to partner with a community they are passionate about.
While Ben decided to create Brooklyn Friends’ first ever Swim Team, Maalik Dunkley ‘17 looked beyond BFS stating C.A.S. “doesn’t only mean ‘working with’ the school community, it also means you can do bigger and better things in your ‘home’ community.” Maalik partnered with the Crown Heights Youth Collective, an organization providing comprehensive services for diverse African American, Caribbean American, and Hasidim youth in the Crown Heights neighborhood. Maalik wanted to build on their work by creating a space for youth to be free to explore and talk about their experiences, gaining leadership skills in the process.
Isaiah Richards ‘17 stumbled upon his C.A.S. Project as he was walking home one day, spotting a rundown and abandoned community garden in Brownsville. He spent the next few months revitalizing the space, planting new vegetables, and repairing equipment to continue the upkeep of the garden. He grew carrots, squash, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables, then divided them up and gave the food to members of the surrounding community. As he states “I had never done gardening before, I had no experience in the matter, but doing this gave me that hobby actually, I’m a pretty active gardener now.”
Isaiah Richards in his Suburban Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
The Collection was closed out by a Q&A session. students answered questions from the audience about time management, the support they received from the Brooklyn Friends community, and the importance of relating C.A.S. to their hobbies and passions.
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