Cereal service


Graduating senior takes her IB CAS project on childhood hunger to the community.

CAS, or creativity, activity and service, is one of the three essential elements that every student must complete as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (DP). The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows: creativity, which involves the arts and other experiences that involve creative thinking; activity, including physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle and complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP; and service, which usually involves an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. 

For Notre Dame senior and IB-Diploma Program candidate Rachel Michel, who graduates this Sunday with 194 of her classmates, she focused on the service part, which is not surprising for an NDP student since serving others is a central tenet of the school's mission.

"When I reported on my CAS activity, I wrote about the Village Kids Breakfast Club program," she said. "This program is completely donation-based and gives milk and cereal to kids in the summer who had been on the free and reduced lunch program during the school year in the Brandon School District in Ortonville."

For her report, Michel tediously compiled and computerized five years of previous hand-written data that included family names, number of children, weekly number of boxes of cereal and weekly gallons of milk. More importantly to her, she said, was that the report also communicated the continuing and significant need for donations in and outside of Ortonville. 

"I decided on this project because I consider myself very blessed to have the opportunities I do, such as attending Notre Dame Prep," said Michel, who has been commuting to the Pontiac campus from Ortonville. "Many others in my community are not as fortunate as I am. So therefore I wanted to give back to that community by engaging in what actually is a global issue: childhood hunger. Plus, keeping my work local was important to me because the best way to create change is by starting small."

She said that because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it helps give children a jump-start in proper nutrition for their growing brain development, she concentrated on providing breakfast food through the breakfast club.

Michel hopes to continue to work with the breakfast program after her high school graduation. In fact, serving the less fortunate appears to be a major part of her "far-in-the-future" hopes and plans.

"I am interested in studying both neuroscience and Spanish in college," she said. "And after college, I hope to become a surgeon, with a focus on rural community health. I also one day hope to participate in Doctors Without Borders."

Michel looks forward to the next stages of her life, but acknowledges that she'll miss her time at NDPMA — which for her began in 4th grade in the lower school — and what the school has meant to her.

"The discipline that Notre Dame has provided me over the years has given me personal structure, resilience and fortitude, all useful life skills for my immediate future at a university and one day for my career," she said. "Also, going to the Kairos retreat was definitely another favorite memory at NDP. Being able to grow closer with my teachers, classmates, and most importantly, with God, helped nurture my faith and provide me with lifelong friends."

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.