CIBA students work hard to do things for others

By Mariana Garcia - CIBA Student Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
The ‘Mitten Tree’ was a successful project. Photo by Mariana Garcia. - Contributed Photo

An 8-foot Christmas tree was placed in the middle of the rotunda at the Connecticut IB Academy (CIBA). It belonged to a senior, Austin Kern, who joined the school’s service club, Interact, this year. It emphasized the motto “Service Above Self.” Helping to install it in its place were one of CIBA’s math teachers, Rachel Buck and Interact president Changhun Lee (class of 2015).

When the idea of “The Mitten Tree” was brought up during one of Interact’s sessions, Kern volunteered for the job. When asked what sparked his interest in community service, he responded, “I just wanted to participate in a big way.” The Mitten Tree began its campaign on Nov. 7 and ended on Nov. 27. The project was aimed at gathering as many new or gently used scarves, mittens, gloves, and hats as possible. They were then donated to East Hartford’s Women’s Club, who distributed them to East Hartford Elementary School nurses who will offer them to children in need.

To encourage students to donate, the Mitten Tree became a way for grades to achieve spirit points. Whichever grade donated the most would receive a Mitten Tree app for their class’s “iPad” (which shows how many points each class has). New items were worth two points, while older items were worth one point. This year, the class of 2015 won.

Not only did Kern’s contribution through the Mitten Tree help serve the needs of the community, but it is also helped him achieve the goal of acquiring his IB Diploma. All IB candidates must have a CAS (Creativity Action Service) project in order to be a full IB Diploma candidate. It highlights the importance of being a global citizen while helping the community around you. It challenges students to participate in new roles in which they may not have envisioned themselves. It also requires students to involve themselves in different kinds of clubs and activities that focus on a variation of areas. The true emphasis of CAS is to be able to participate in an activity that has significant meaning and being able to reflect upon these experiences.

Another one of CIBA’s service projects is the Animal Drive that began on Dec. 2 and will run through Dec. 13. It is being run by the school’s Animal Rights Club, of which Ceili Peng (class of 2014) is president. It is also the CAS Project of Olayinka Osho-Williams (class of 2014). Like the Mitten Tree, it encourages students to donate by offering the opportunity to obtain spirit points. The Animal Drive is geared toward obtaining pet supplies, such as food and toys, in order to donate to the Simon Foundation, a Connecticut Pet Adoption Organization in Bloomfield, Conn.

Last year, the Animal Drive received more than 100 cans of cat and dog food that was donated to the Humane Society’s Pet Food Pantry. When asked about the goals for this year’s drive, Ceili Peng said, “We are hoping to expand on the number of donations. Our main goal is to help the animals, especially during these hard times.”

The Animal Rights Club meets every month on Tuesdays and is supervised by Robert Spiller, CIBA’s guidance counselor. Interact also meets every other Monday in Mrs. Buck’s room.

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