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School Blog and News

Archives - June 2016

Taking the Initiative Doesn't Mean Inventing

June 22, 2016
By Barrie Hillman

Barrie's pressure washer at work on the front steps to Baker HallIt is Week Two of summer vacation and I bet that some students are already getting a little bored. Summer is a great time to get a jump start on Creative, Active & Service Learning (CAS) for the 2016-17 school year. However, just doing these types of activities is not enough to "count for CAS". Students must also reflect on their activities and account for meeting any of the seven CAS Learning Outcomes.

One of the trickier Learning Outcomes is to initiate an activity. Students will often equate initiating with inventing making their CAS projects more complex and challenging than they need to be. Initiating is not inventing. Initiating is being someone who reaches out to start an activity rather than waiting to be asked. For example, summer is a time of clean-up and maintenance at WSA. Railing on the back of Ryan Hall - BEFORE pressure washingWe always have projects underway in summer that more often than not are done by WSA staff.

In fact just today Lisa remarked, "Boy, you sure like power tools," just as I was firing up my gas-powered pressure washer to work on the front entrance.

Railing on the back of Ryan Hall - AFTER pressure washing

See the cool "before and after" picture that shows just how much gunk gets built up on our stairs. That gunk is no match for my awesome pressure washer. A student can meet the initiating learning outcome by simply emailing me and saying, "I want to spend some time helping to make WSA a beautiful place this summer and how can I help?"  And just like that, you have initiated yourself into a fun and rewarding project such as helping me to restore the railings on the back stairs.

Railing on the back of Ryan Hall - BEFORE pressure washingLook at the amazing difference between what the Ryan railings looked like before the treatment and after. All this benefit from a safe non-toxic process that just requires some scrubbing muscles. If scrubbing isn't your thing, perhaps flooring can provide some reward.

The floor in Gretchen's classroom has been floating for two years now and it isn't meant to be a floating floor! We need to pull up the old tiles and make way for the flooring installer to put down a new floor product.

Railing on the back of Ryan Hall - AFTER pressure washing

Yes, we have a plethora of activities waiting to be initiated by you! For more information, just initiate an email conversation with me at


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