Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year--Goal Setting-Congressional Service Award

Congressional Service Award for Youth
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress' award for young Americans. It is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. The program is open to all 14- to 23-year-olds.

Participants earn Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Medals.

Each level involves setting goals in four program areas;
Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Earning the Award is a fun and interesting way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you'd like to try for the first time. You move at your own pace - on your own or with your friends. This is not an award for past accomplishments. Instead, you are honored for achieving your own challenging goals.

Regardless of your situation, you can earn the Congressional Award. The Congressional Award has no minimum grade point average requirements. It accommodates young people with special needs or disabilities who are willing to take the challenge.


Goals, The 10 Rules for Achieving Success: http://store.simpletruths.com/shared/StoreFront/default.asp?CS=simplet&StoreType=BtoC&Count1=845012843&Count2=762153267&ProductID=1696&Target=products.asp&cm_mmc=Responsys-_-Internal-_-Newsletter-_-GOLS

Friday, December 11, 2009

Project Ignition Update

yay we have flight times!!!! she has chosen on march 4th: 9:35pm departure. and march 6: 6:00am departure. in that case i will go to the airport for pick up drop off so mrs. clay can be bright eyed and bushytailed in the morning. i will be able to drive by then. i will talk to mr. cassell tomorrow with the full flight details. does break work? the cost should be around $350 i think. i am so excited about this!!! thanks!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

YAC November and December memories

A YAC SENIOR CHAIR REFLECTION“Any eighth grade girls interested in learning a Japanese dance go to Madame Taylor’s room after lunch.”
I was the first one in Madame Taylor’s classroom after lunch.
As far as I was concerned my obsession with Japan was just another phase, admittedly inspired by the cartoons the country produced and the cheesy Japanese songs I heard when I played Dance Dance Revolution. Surely it would end in a month or two and I would move on to something else like cooking or computer programming or some other foreign language or culture. I had already been through French, Chinese, Italian, and Hebrew phases.
Today, I still plan on studying Japanese after high school.

That was the first time I met Carmen Clay and Mari Leslie.
The second time I met Carmen was the following summer in a fabric store. My mother had to pick up my brother Michael and didn't want to leave me alone in the house. But I was engaged in such a good book and didn’t want to get off the couch—clearly getting me to come with her was going to be a difficult task. But she managed to do it, and I can hardly imagine where I’d be now if she hadn’t.
Within a few days I found myself in my favorite Chinese restaurant with Carmen and two somewhat familiar faces. At this summer lunch meeting of the Youth and Adult Action and Advisory Council, or YAC as I soon learned it was called, were Luke Cornelson, a Junior that year who had befriended my brother through the cross country team, and Justin Ou, a Senior I only recognized because the incredible resemblance to his slightly annoying brother, who was a year younger than me, and because of his incredible dedication to getting my brother to host a cross country team breakfast during the pre-season. The conversation began with discussions about how to improve YAC for the coming year and how to engage the freshman class to get involved in service.
“Sarah, you’re a freshman, what do you think?”
What was he even talking about? What did I think about what?
“Do you think you can organize your grade into groups that will be willing to come up with a cool project and not fight amongst themselves?”
Why were they asking me to do this? I still had no idea what they were talking about.
But I went along with it.

Around that time I received a letter from the school’s orchestra director. The orchestra was going to China that year to perform in three cities during spring break.

By the time school started that year I had recruited one of my best friends Robert Clements, a much more vocal and to-the-point person than I was, into YAC. Together we organized what we thought were good clusters of freshmen into groups facilitated by older students in an attempt to engage as many of them as we could in service. The result: four groups of freshmen all going to the Boys and Girls Club to play with kids, many for the sole purpose of having an “easy project” with little planning or effort on their part. I was and still am all for supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, but where there is no passion there is no purpose to even the most seemingly selfless actions.

Fall came and passed, and it was time to begin planning the annual Martin Luther King Day of service. This time every year is when opportunities for service, learning, and service learning become more abundant than usual. It was during this time that I happened to be in Mrs. Clay’s office for some random reason when I was asked to look at an e-mail.
“I think you would be very interested in this…”
She was right, the description of the competition had caught my attention, given my love of many cultures and my still-present obsession with Japan. The instructions were something along the lines of “create an art piece that promotes cultural diversity in your area.” The organization in charge of all of this was the Respect Diversity Foundation. Through this foundation I met Joan Korenblit. Joan was and still is one heck of an inspiration.
Shortly after I decided to enter the competition Joan took me to see past art pieces created for the same purpose. “Your goal is to create something like these,” she told me, pointing at the different works of art created by students and adults alike. Eventually she made it to her favorite piece. I don’t remember much about the piece except that it had mandalas, round pieces of wood painted to portray certain messages in certain foreign cultures, hanging off the bottom of it.
“Doves are a symbol of peace,” I muttered to myself. I began envisioning a stained-glass dove carrying an olive branch flying through glass shards of color. But only the eyes can interact with mere images, and since ending discrimination was a major goal of this project, why discriminate against the other senses? Shouldn’t we be able to touch the feathers, to hear the soft and proud wings of peace? And those mendalas are absolutely breathtaking…
Not that I actually thought anything I ever created would mean anything, would ever inspire anyone to stop and think about their lives any differently.
I had a vision of what my peace dove would look like, and I had an artist friend who showed me how I could actually put it together. He cut a block of Styrofoam into the shape of a bird and, with enormous amounts of help from some friends, began layering the base with paper mache and gluing on the feathers. It looked like a real dove, but I still wanted those mandalas on there somewhere!
While at Hobby Lobby the day after the final feather was added I noticed some unpainted mandalas and ribbon of a thousand colors.
There was no way I was going to be able to incorporate sound into this dove anyway. But if people couldn’t hear the wings soaring, why not let them hear people’s thoughts about peace? They wouldn’t actually hear anything except their own chatter of course. But that would be fine. The written word echoes even through death.
I brought the ribbons, mandalas, colorful paint and Sharpies the next time my freshman cluster went to the Boys and Girls Club.

The process was messy but my objective was met: the kids at the Boys and Girls Club said they wanted to do something artistic, so I let them paint the wooden star-shaped mandalas however they wanted, with whatever colors they chose. Many of them wanted to use every color they could get their hands on, because they insisted that their star would never be beautiful if each color wasn’t represented. How wise children can be. Some of the kids didn’t want to paint but they wanted to practice writing words and sentences. I told them to write on the ribbons what they thought about peace. The ribbons were glued to the mandalas and attached to the wings and belly of the dove. A rainbow was forming under the dove. I repeated the process with young kids from my own school, my peers in high school, my friends from other schools, and some people in the general public. Eventually the dove was soaring over a true rainbow of color and ideas.
The Beauty of Diversity, as I later called it, was never entered in that contest, but it was displayed at the Respect Diversity Foundation’s exhibit in the Science Museum Oklahoma, formerly called the Omniplex. I still call it the Omniplex because the name seems more engaging. I’m told that large crowds surrounded Beauty the duration of the opening night, but I was too busy admiring the works of other students to notice.

Spring break finally arrived. The orchestra went to China, but stopped briefly in Tokyo on the way there to change planes. In the thirty minutes I sat in that airport painfully hauling my giant viola case, my obsession with Japan became full-fledged love.

Over the following weeks I received e-mail notices from Joan that Beauty would become a part of the Foundation’s traveling exhibit, with my permission of course. I granted permission, wondering why that piece would be chosen for any exhibit beyond the initial display of all of the art pieces submitted that year. I’m told

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Retreat's Reflection

I arrived at the Marconi Center not having the slightest clue what to expect.

I also didn’t know that just over forty-eight hours, particularly a one-hour block of time spent merely staring and a timeless and seemingly endless experience that others have assured me was no longer than forty-five minutes, could completely change my outlook on life.

Within five minutes of being at the Marconi Center, five minutes of breathing the pine-filled air, five minutes of examining the bell-like poppies, five minutes of gazing at the ocean, all of the stress that not only constantly surrounds me but follows—no, chases, pursues me wherever I go, simply melted away, surrounding my feet but not being able to touch me. I had always known that school was not, contrary to popular belief, the purpose of our lives (and that one’s education is actually hindered by trying too hard to excel at it), but I had never been able to truly feel it until that first breath of pine-air.

The first thing we all did after marveling at our heavenly living quarters for longer than expected was explore the place, since we were several hours early to the retreat and honestly had nothing better to do (actually, I can’t think of anything I would rather have been doing at the time) only to discover the reason our bedrooms were so heavenly: we were, in fact, in some lower level, some earthly level, of Heaven. I would be glad to go further into the beauty of this place if you happen to have the floor-plan for Heaven with you right now. Otherwise it would take too long, and since my name isn’t John Steinbeck I won’t pester you with the details.

Along our journey two things stuck out as particularly incredible to me. The first was a miniature multi-tiered waterfall reminiscent of a Japanese garden in all its divinity. The other was a redwood tree. I never could find that tree again, although it did change the life of at least one other person at the retreat.

Later on that night when the other sixty-some-odd people arrived, we were split into nine “Home Groups”, each consisting of retreat-goers between the ages of fifteen and eighty-five. None of us will ever know how, but the “random” assignment of people to their respective Home Groups somehow managed to give each person at the retreat the perfect group of people to help them evolve spiritually.

I awoke unnaturally early the next morning and decided to walk around the Marconi Center on my own. Noticing only the plants, rocks, chipmunks and jackrabbit, but most certainly not where I was actually going, I found myself back at the waterfall. I decided to sit down on a rock on its bank and, as I so often do when I really don’t know what else to do, I just stared. I stared at the water. I am not confident in my ability to describe things without drawing them so bear with me: the top of the waterfall is of course just a clear pool. After the first fall the water is allowed to flow freely for a short ways, but is soon interrupted by small boulders that block part of its path. It is then free to flow a short distance until it falls down another waterfall. This continues for several tiers, the layers of rock becoming increasingly denser, making it more difficult for the water to pass through, but somehow it always does. But right before the last fall, there are no rocks. Instead there is a sheet of tall grass, like small stalks of bamboo. Certainly no insect or hummingbird that was on the water was able to see over the grass without flying above it. And over that last fall is a large, open, clear pool, where the water may flow as it pleases. And as I stared at the water I noticed bubbles forming at the top of the first fall, and I noticed that some of the bubbles flowed down the first waterfall, while some went the other way, and simply disappeared with a small pop. And I noticed that most, but not all, of the bubbles that made it down the first waterfall made it past the first set of rocks to the next waterfall, and most of the ones that fell down it continued to the next, until only a few of the original bubbles made it past the reeds to that final pool; and as I noticed these things I realized that this was all a metaphor for life: we are but bubbles in a fountain, and in order to make it to that final pool at the end, we must all find a way around the rocks and falls that block us, until we finally reach, at the end of each lifetime, the curtain of reeds, and the uncertainty of what lies beyond, and we must not be afraid of it, but instead we must—

I had just missed an incredible (or so I’m told) banana pancake breakfast.

As wonderful as the rest of that day was, I wish only to bring up an unknown quantity of time (though I know it was more than twenty minutes and less than three hours) spent sitting on a rock in between two forest paths where I had followed a chipmunk and two jackrabbits. My original intent for sitting on the rock was to observe the behavior of the two wild jackrabbits, for I often think of myself as a scientist and naturally am curious about many things, especially since the behavior of jackrabbits is not something easily observable in the heart of Oklahoma City. Eventually the jackrabbits left, and I was left grass and twigs on the ground, the rock I was contentedly sitting on, and two young trees to the left of the rock. I was bored, so I picked up a twig and tossed it between the trees. A recently-finished spider-web caught the twig in midair, and I watched as my inner child gaped in absolute wonder at the twig that could make itself fly. I tossed more twigs next to it, and there they were, standing in midair parallel to the trunks of the trees as the child marveled at what magic could possibly be at work here. And suddenly my heart became a metronome, and everything began to harmonize with it, though I could hear no sound but the occasional conversation between far-away sparrows. This is what I will define forever as “inner peace”.

The eighty or so people at the Retreat were to go through the Labyrinth in two waves, and I was in the second wave. I decided I’d go into the room with the Labyrinth while the first wave was going through just to see what exactly was going on. I’d had a crazy obsession with hot tea the whole weekend, so it came as no surprise to me that when I walked into the circular room containing the Labyrinth, the first thing I thought was that the room looked oddly like the cup or orange spice tea I was drinking at the time. Then I noticed the people. The people in the room were either sitting calmly, not saying anything and maybe drinking a cup of hot tea, or they were on the Labyrinth, walking or dancing along, completely unaware of their surroundings, each engaged in their own form of meditative movement. Outside of this room, any of these people would have been labeled a freak or an outcast by any other “normal” person, but not inside of it. Inside everyone’s inner mind seemed to surface and take over, and the body of each person was no longer under their conscious control.
And all I could do was watch and wonder what exactly this thing on the floor in front of me was that was causing these people to act like this.
The last person in the first wave left the room, and the spaces on the walls had filled with an entirely new group of people, the second wave of meditators.
“Welcome to the Labyrinth. Going through the Labyrinth is a form of meditation known to provide answers to those who seek answers, questions to those who seek answers, and answers to those who seek questions.” All three applied to me. “When I tap you on the shoulder, you may proceed into the Labyrinth. All I ask is that you stay within the path and not run into others. Now….we begin.”
After finishing the remains of my tea I entered the Labyrinth. The music playing sounded like the orange spice tea tasted, if that makes any sense. As I walked, I wondered what I was even doing there. After some unknown amount of time (it could have been a few seconds or an hour as far as I was concerned), my mind began to wander into a complex stream of something deeper than thought, or perhaps it just felt that way. I was suddenly aware of nothing but the inner workings of my mind, yet at the same time completely aware of everything in the room, the floor, the music, the people, and I was completely aware of the fact that we were all dancing like the steam on top of a hot cup of tea, not in unison but still somehow together, connected somehow by the environment the room created for us, connected, even though we were all perfect strangers.

The rest has been omitted for personal reasons.

December Casady YAC Executive board and Home Group Facilitators

Talked to Gabby, Sasha, Josh, Sarah before chapel. After chapel, Braeden,and Johnesha were reached.

1. Home group facilitators were asked if they were part of the Debate Club. If so, they needed to find an alternative time to meet with their home groups. They were also asked to check if their home group kids were part of the Debate Club. If so, a time convenient for all had to be found for meetings.

2. The next site visit is the Week of February 16-18. We are on break the 14 and the 19, Service-Learning will be volunteering at the book fair.
a. Tuesday, February 16: Sasha's group will go to Special Care
b. Wednesday, February 17: Johnesha's group wil go to Boys and Girls Club
c. Thursday, February 18: Gabby's group will go to the Oklahoma Humane Society.
d. Friday, Febraury 19: YAC volunteers at the Book Fair from 3:45-5:30 p.m.
e. Saturday, Febraury 20: Braeden's group might go to Elderly faciliites

3. YAC home group facilitators need to talk to freshmen about the Congressional Award for Service. Sarah believes this is an important conversation that needs to be handle well. Mrs. Clay suggested having the freshman complete the form with short, medium and long term goals as part of the first Home Group Meeting of the year. We might have an open house for that purpose with apple cider in exchange for goals.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Project Ignition Breakfast Meeting

The project ignition meeting on Tuesday dealt with who is going to do what for Julia's arrival.

Molly is going to deliver a speech a few weeks before Julia's chapel talk to have people order the project ignition t-shirts.

The week before Julia's speech Garner and Molly are going to deliver a speech about the driver safety week.

And then I will make the introductory speech when Julia is there. William and Rachel are going to meet her at the airport and Parker will make some welcome signs.


Schedule for Julia Sewell stay in OKC Heritage and Casady
Friday: February 26th
- Announcement made by Garner Gentry in Chapel at casady about the week following
-Announcement made by (person) during Break at Heritage about the week following

(Flyers will be finished and put up by this date)

Monday: March 1st
- Announcement made by (person) welcoming everyone to teen driver safety week! at both schools
- T-shirts will be passed out(order forms will be passed out two weeks before this date and returned one week before this date).
-Info booth at both schools

Tuesday: March 2nd
-Bean bag toss game fundraiser at Casady
-Bake sale fundraiser at Heritage
- Info booth at both schools

Wednesday: March 3rd
-Possible short educational video about safe driving(Must be purchased)
- Info booth at both schools

Thursday: March 4th
-Bake sale fundraiser at Casady
-Info booth at both schools

-Julia arrives after 8pm(Mrs. Clay will be providing transportation)

Friday: March 5th
-Out of dress code w/ purchase of a shirt
-Breakfast/welcome party with all who are interested(this can be a time for all sturdent to meet Julia)
- Julia speaks at Casady (8am-8:25am)
-Julia speaks at Heritage (10:10am-10:40am)
- Bean bag toss fundraiser at Heritage(10:40am-11:10am)
- Info booth at Both Schools
- Lunch at place Mrs. Clay mentioned who's name escapes me right now (Casady kids: Block-b through lunch, Heritage kids: 12:00pm-12:40pm)
- Mrs. Clay tours Julia Around OKC
-Dinner at Museum cafe(If someone would like to suggest something else feel free to do so)
-All Members of PI are invited(Hoping to have more money by then, every body pays for them selves)

Fr. Blizzard we need to confirm that Julia can Speak during Chapel on March 5, 2010. Please Confirm. Thanks!

saturday: March 6th
- Breakfast with all who are interested(Location TBA)
- William Clements Tours julia around more of OKC(With all who are interested)
- Lunch at Pizza INN(Family Tradition)(With all who are interested)(please bring money)
-William Clements Tours julia around more of OKC(With all who are interested)
**-Possible final dinner(Any suggestions?)
**- Overnight at Casady School

Sunday: March 7th
-Flight home Time TBA


About Me

cbc: clayc@casady.org; 405-749-3103