Final CAS Reflection

Nearing the end of my time as a DP2 IB student, its time to recap my CAS experiences and prove that I have gone beyond the requirements.

At the beginning of each year (DP1 and DP2), I wrote down my objectives for Creativity Actions and Service, and its interesting to see how I’ve met these goals, and sometimes veered off in a different direction, and fulfilled goals I couldn’t even think of at the start of the year.

Creativity

Looking back on my goals for creativity, it’s encouraging to see that I have achieved my goals, and exceeded my initial expectations. Having reflected on the blog regarding my progress as a piano player, I am satisfied with my success at live performances, and my improvement in pianistic techniques. However, while I am glad that I undertook the challenge of becoming a better pianist and playing for live audiences, it has also led me to identify areas for growth in my learning. Now that I have experience playing live, and have a better understanding of how to cope with mistakes during the heat of the moment, I aim to take a more central and frequent role in these performances next year, as a DP2 musician.

-DP 1 Final Reflection

After trying many new things musically last year, I’m happy to see that I have maintained my commitment to these skills, and kept them up, as I believe a major part of CAS is follow through on the new activities you may try.

While maintaining my commitment to playing the piano, I am also really grateful
that I got the opportunity to expand my knowledge of music, by developing new skills as a violinist. As this was a CAS goal made at the beginning of the year, however, I am a little disappointed at how long it took me to organize a teacher and start my lessons, as it left me no time for reflection on the blog.

-DP 1 Final Reflection

Despite a rocky start to my goal of learning to play the violin, I made much more progress during DP2. It took some planning and initiative to organize the lessons, and play the kind of music I wanted, but I’m glad I continued and tried to fulfill my objectives,as it helped me develop new skills as a musician.

A large part of my creativity hours, however, came about due to activities and events that I did not plan to be a part of, but felt a personal desire to try. MUN and Bugsy Malone (backstage crew) are two main events that became a spontaneous addition to my CAS blog. With MUN, I demonstrated my perseverance and commitment to an activity that had overwhelmed me the year before.

-DP 1 Final Reflection

Continuing this tradition of trying new and completely different activities, this year, I became a part of a DP2 dance group. Despite IAs and rapidly approaching exams, a group of us seniors banded together and set out to win our school talent show. This resulted in many lunch time and after school practices, learning and developing a skill I only really exercised at our school dance. My favorite memory of this experience is collaborating and coming up with ideas for new moves, and all the team spirit we had that led us to our third place victory.

Another new and different skill I developed this year is working on InDesign and Photoshop for Yearbook. I joined Yearbook so that I could help design and create all the memories we will later remember about high school, and ended up creating some new memories as well. Aside from this, I really enjoyed collaborating with the other members when we cape up with a theme and overall design – it really gave me the sense that the Yearbook would belong to us.

Action

At the beginning of the year, I was eager to try a different form of action – dance. While I was very enthusiastic to learn, however, I did not find a class to my liking.

-DP 1 Final Reflection

At the beginning of DP1, I was determined to start dance, but never got the opportunity to pursue this objective. This year, however, as I talked about above, I joined a dance group that our senior class formed and discovered that it was even more fulfilling than taking dance classes by myself, because of our group spirit and collaboration and communication.

Yoga taught me the importance of having a calm mindset and exercising your muscles to remain healthy. It was a very different area of action compared to badminton, the sport that I have been committed to for the past few years.

-DP 1 Final Reflection

HFK: Rations Drive

The Sri Lankan New Year, which falls on the 14th of April, is all about getting together with your family, receiving presents, and eating good food. In the spirit of this holiday, Hope For Kids held its annual rations drive at school, so that we could celebrate the new year at the hospital with deserving families. This was a great way to end my time as a leader of the service, as it let me really see the impact of my work over the past two years.

In order to get the rations drive under way, we started planning for it at the beginning of March, assigning a particular good to each grade. We decided on these items depending on necessity and the average diet of a Sri Lankan family. In order to motivate our classmates, we promised a pizza party to the grade that brought in the most rations, although we also stressed the importance and joy of helping others in our community.

After collecting these rations for a month, it was time to go from classroom to classroom, gathering and counting the food that was brought in. There was some heavy lifting involved, with some members of the service carrying 25 Kg of rice down two flights of stairs, but this just meant that our school had come through – we had enough and more rations to give out.

Our last service day before our half term break, we loaded all the rations into an extra van, along with a shopping cart that some people speculated was borrowed rom a local grocery store. At the hospital, we each took turns knocking on the rooms doors, and giving each family a bag of rations, and wishing them a happy Sri Lankan New Year. The best part for me was having rations left over, and being able to give these to the guards and cleaning staff we see around the hospital each time we visit.

This was a great way to directly experience the impact we make in our community and realize we are doing something worthwhile, so it was a great note to end service on for me.

Back to Yoga

Now that the badminton season is over, I decided to continue with yoga, so that I could keep on working on my goals for this activity, which I set earlier on this year.

Starting yoga again reminded me again how different this activity was from ones such as badminton, which is what I’m used to. While strategy and coordination are a big part of badminton, yoga focuses more on endurance. I never really knew how long 30 seconds were, before I had to hold the ‘downward dog’ pose for that amount of time!

However, since I’m familiar with the basic positions now, I can focus more on holding them and pushing myself to try more complex poses. Something that really helps me push through is seeing my friends try the poses themselves, and competing with them to see who can achieve it the fastest – of course, Miss Morse, our instructor, always lets us know that we should focus more on our body, and whether we feel it can handle the kind of exertion of a particular exercise.

As painful as it sometimes is as I try to keep up with all the different exercises, I always end up feeling relaxed and refreshed after each session. With exams and deadlines approaching, this is a great way to relieve stress and stay positive, which makes this activity a great way to end my action this semester.

Gecko Factor 2017

Every year, Gecko Factor brings to life the entertaining and unique talents of our student body, allowing us to see our friends in a whole new way.

This year, our class’s love of Bollywood music and dancing resulted in a group of us planning and initiating a dance for the talent show. During lunch, after school and during the weekends, 10 of the senior students could be found dancing, and in my case, occasionally losing balance.

Ariana and Amit were our main choreographers, but we were all equally invested in the group, singling out the competition during the auditions, and urging all our other classmates to watch us (and be amazed!) To add to the element of surprise, we started of dancing to ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia, and transitioning into Badtameez Dil by Benny Dayal.

Despite having never taken part in a talent show before, I was not too nervous before the performance, mostly because I would be dancing with my friends, and all our awesome ‘Dance Crew’ pictures we took backstage distracted me.

We had challenges to overcome, even while on stage in the spotlight – due to a initial version of our dance track being played instead of the final, we had a few seconds of improvisation in the middle, which I think we handled well. Our competitive spirits were also rewarded when we won third place. We ended the day with more awesome group pictures and splitting the third place brownie price.

Service: Creative Fundraising

For the second semester of Hope For Kids, we had some creative ideas for fund raising that really met our target of challenging ourselves while helping our community. With our school talent show, Gecko Factor, soon approaching, we set to work making tie-dye bandanas to sell to the willing members of the audience.

Having tried tie-dye last year, we knew that using acrylic paint and hanging them up to dry sometimes resulted in faded colors, and the dye dripping down the cloth. This time, we came prepared, and used batik paint instead. Figuring out new ways to fold the cloth to get designs was my favorite part, and the reveal, in my opinion, deserved a drum roll. Of course, all of us soon forgot about the gloves we were supposed to wear and walked out with our hand stained purple and orange, but we also had 20 bandanas ready to be sold in a few weeks!

Despite a large part of the funds we use coming from our saving from the previous years, I also think it’s really important to challenge ourselves to raise money in innovative ways that add to our school community while also raising awareness to our cause. Hopefully, we are well on our way to achieving this!

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The Final Product

Yearbook 101

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As the year goes on and I have more and more Yearbook pages to work on, I’m realizing the sheer amount of effort and skills that go into making a page. If I were to advise someone now on how to make a great yearbook page, this is what I would say:

1. Borders and Spacing

When you’re making a great Yearbook page, this may be the last thing you want to think about, but I have realized how important it is. You should always use the alignment tools to get the spacing right, which is something I’m working on with all my pages

2. Print out a sample page

It’s really important to make sure you are working with CMYK colors and not RGB colors, and this is something you can make sure of by printing a draft page. It’s better to realize the red you used actually shows up as brown on paper while you’re still working things out, as opposed to when you’re getting your page signed.

Picture size is also something you might change your mind about when you see how big or small it actually is on paper, so its a good idea to get a feel for how big pictures are on the paper versus the screen.

3. Layout the pages as it would be on the Yearbook

After designing great pages, the last thing you want to discover is that the pages that go next to each other don’t mesh at all. So when designing single pages, its always better to design the left and right pages together in one document.

4. Show it to more experienced Yearbook members

For me, this really helped because they usually spotted a lot of technical aspects (like the spacing) that I hadn’t thought of. Also, whenever you can’t get a picture exactly the right size, or in exactly the right position, they are always there to tell you you’ll get the hang of it!

Gala Concert 2016

The Gala Concert 2016 was undoubtedly the best way to end the first semester of school.

Having participated in the Gala Concert last year, I was excited to try something new this year. As I mentioned in my previous post about the gala, this year I was practicing to play the glockenspiel in our concert band. Looking back at the concert, I know all those practises were worth it.

Thinking back on concert band rehearsals, all I remember are the good times we had, joking, learning from each other and getting excited when we finally perfected a piece, but I know there were some frustrating moments as well. The band dynamic was still fairly new to me, and it was a little different from playing in an ensemble last year – I really had to stay focused so that I didn’t miss my cue or stray off tempo. Also, while the glockenspiel was an easy instrument to get adjusted to, I was still the most comfortable at a piano. These were both reasons that made me love the pieces we were performing – once they were stuck in my head, my timing and tempo were much easier to get right. In the end, these challenges helped me feel more confident in my role as a musician.

The Gala Concert was one of those events that truly made me feel like an IB music student.

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