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Students look to build community through fun activity

Norseman Staff
IB diploma students play games and hang out into the wee hours of the morning to build community.

Students pursuing higher levels of education and rigorous high school programs sometimes get lost among the books, essays, and projects and miss out on building relationships and a community. 

International Baccalaureate Diploma students complete a CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project during their junior or senior year where they are encouraged to think outside the box and take initiative to make a larger impact. This year, four seniors wanted their project to focus on helping their senior class connect and decided to host a 5-hour lock-in at the school.

“When we first heard of the CAS requirement for IB, we knew we wanted to do something different,” senior Fiona Walsh said. “We talked to some of the IB teachers, and they pointed out how our class lacked the closeness other classes had in the past. So we decided to try and change that by bringing people closer together through the lock-in.”

The lock-in is just one example of the many things students can do for their CAS project.

“The requirements for CAS are fairly open about the type of event you can participate in so it allows students to pick something they are passionate about,” IB history teacher Kristen Runyen said. “Most projects include students interacting with peers or community members or sharing their passions, allowing those connections to grow.”

Those who attended the lock-in left feeling like they knew their classmates better than before, improving their relationships.

“The lock-in was super fun, and I really feel closer to some of my classmates because of it,” senior Ava Speier said. “My favorite parts were the winter-themed relay and the charades game because everyone got super into it and I got to really see people’s personalities.”

CAS not only helps students build bonds, but it also helps them briefly escape the stress of school.

“I think it is important for IB students to do fun things outside the realm of academics to give them a chance to decompress,” Runyen said. “Advanced academics can be demanding, so taking the time to do fun things is important in maintaining their mental health and making personal connections with their peers. In the end, being in a better mindset may even help their academics as they may be more efficient with their time to make time for fun activities.”

As students work toward completing CAS they get to incorporate things that they are interested in while increasing their creativity, staying healthy, and serving others.

“I have seen students grow through CAS projects like this lock-in because they had to learn and follow the planning procedures of putting on a safe and successful event,” Runyen said. “I’ve also seen a student’s artistic side showcased through painting staff members’ parking spots. These projects provide life-long memories or, in the case of the parking spots, physical mementos.”

CAS doesn’t just help build bonds; it also pushes students to reflect and care about the impact of their actions.

“Every weekend we have to do a CAS reflection,” senior Hannah Price said. “These reflections have to touch on certain categories such as global engagement or initiative. Having to meet all the criteria really pushes us to go out of our comfort zones.”

The lock-in also pushed students to try new things as they were forced to get to know each other.

“The IB lock-in helped students bond by giving them a space where all members of the IB diploma program could see each other in one space,” Runyen said. “I think most are divided into at least two to three class periods for their shared courses, so there isn’t a time during the school day where they can all see each other together.”

IB students getting to know each other not only helped start friendships but also improved students’ view of the world. 

“Building bonds with those around me helps me feel more comfortable in my classes, and that’s especially important to me in advanced classes,” senior Louis Gamboa said. “Having more people in my life has allowed me to see an even greater variety of perspectives on life and has helped me understand people better.”

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Lillian Smith
Lillian Smith, Assistant Editor
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