Grade 12 Students Reflect on CAS

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Grade 12 Students Reflect on CAS
Shantelle Kotowich

Reflecting on CAS

It was such a pleasure sitting with all of our Grade 12 students and their advisors over the course of the last two weeks to discuss and reflect on their CAS journeys. Students were by and large happy to be finished (some told me that checking everything off the final exit form was the best) and yet many of our conversations seemed tinged with a little nostalgia and quite a bit of fondness as they looked back on all they had done.

Many students told me that throughout the course of the CAS program, they often felt that being forced to do CAS made their schedules quite hectic, and that writing monthly reflections sometimes felt like a burden. Yet equally as many students told me in hindsight that they were grateful for being made to do CAS since it pushed them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have done, and some even said that the reflective process wound up being incredibly useful to them. One student in particular told me that she had been playing the trumpet since 6th grade but that she didn’t start really improving on her trumpet playing until she did it for CAS Creativity. The documentation part forced her to listen to her own playing and reflect on areas of improvement. Many students said that the skill of critical review is something they will benefit from in the future.

In fact, most students identified life lessons from CAS experiences that they felt would help them in university or life in general, things they wouldn’t necessarily have learned in their classes. Some examples of these included time management, self discipline, leadership skills, working collaboratively with others, initiating and planning things, etc. Several students mentioned developing passions about social issues through AREA and Social Justice and how it taught them the importance of educating themselves and advocating for others.

Many plan to continue the activities they did for CAS beyond high school; creative hobbies such as knitting, baking, cooking, and drawing were obvious ones, but many also plan to join sports clubs in university to continue basketball, volleyball, running, etc. Several students also plan to volunteer in the future either with the same organizations they built ties with through CAS (such as ESA) or similar organizations (such as volunteering at other Tedx events worldwide). One student discussed how she plans to use what she learned about women’s rights through her CAS project (and EE) to empower women and other economically disadvantaged people through her chosen major of Economics at university.

Many students commented on other ways that they benefited from CAS. They spoke about how it brought balance to their lives and gave them a break from schoolwork. How it pushed them to try new things and meet new people. How it helped them to identify their own weaknesses and turn those into strengths. How it helped them to de-stress and with their mental health. How it made them see the world differently. How it helped them bond with friends, family members, their homeroom teachers, even strangers. One student told me that she and her grandmother became extremely close because they helped clean the neighborhood together and her grandmother taught her how to cook traditional Japanese food. Several students commented on how meaningful their CAS Project was, and how volunteering in-person was especially rewarding.

Overall students talked about how CAS gave them the resources, opportunity, and excuse to pursue things they already liked or wanted to try, and how CAS became a sort of bridge between their personal lives and academia. The students also gave us good feedback on how to improve the CAS program for future students. 

Our seniors presented to their homeroom classes on April 7th to celebrate their achievements, share their learnings with the group, and to offer some words of wisdom. Now that they are done with CAS, Grade 12 students are officially done with the Core of the Diploma Program and have only their exams left to worry about. We are proud of them and wish them all the best!


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