CAS! Creativity, Action Service (Summer 2013)

By Jim Barrasso, CAS Coordinator – East

CAS pinEastCAS is one of the three parts of the Core of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum (along with Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay) and plays a very important role in an IB education. CAS is designed to make sure that students not only learn from books and academic classes but also learn from their experiences.

The designers of the IB Program felt it was important that students not be one dimensional, and that they get out and interact with the world they live in. Creativity, Action and Service activities are designed to facilitate that.

One of the most enjoyable parts for me, as the CAS Coordinator, is sitting down with the students and interviewing them about their two-year CAS experience. I hear everything from stories about hiking to Ancient Cities high atop Peruvian Mountains to playing underwater hockey at the bottom of the Sandwich High School Pool. I get to see students like Aidan Milsted act in independent films, and listen to guitar solos and review student art portfolios. As CAS Coordinator, I’m blessed to have a unique “inside” view into what our school is all about – and it’s a real fun, fulfilling part of my job.

Jenn Kirk, CAS Coordinator, Sturgis West (r) Welcomes Families to CAS Showcase

Jenn Kirk (r) CAS Coordinator – West Welcomes Families to CAS Showcase

It’s also a pleasure when I can help facilitate student service projects, and see students like Jackson Fryer perform at a candlelight vigil for the homeless, or Lindsey Allen volunteer at the Go Green Fashion show and create unique gift baskets. I’m very, very proud of all the good we do in the community for others – but also for ourselves and our own growth.

So, what’s it take to succeed in CAS? Over the course of two years, we like to see four main things accomplished:

“Big 4” things Sturgis students must do to meet CAS requirements:

  • Participate in at least one ongoing collaborative project that includes at least two out of the three: creativity, action and service
  • Be engaged in CAS activities an average of 2-3 hours a week
  • Document evidence of all 8 learning outcomes, with a good balance of creativity, action and service at the end of two years
  • Reflect in a meaningful way on a regular basis that shows the student’s growth.
We invited students to write a reflection about their CAS experiences for this article and answer at least one one of the following questions:
  • What is the greatest challenge you met during the CAS program?
  • What is one of the new skills you have developed through CAS?
  • How has CAS increased awareness of your own strengths?
  • What is the most important thing you have learned through CAS?
  • How did you find the balance between Action, Creativity and Service?
  • What advice do you have for someone who is starting the CAS program?

Megan Agostonelli, Class of 2013 – East

Megan Agnosticelli -

(l-r) Catherine Etienne, Krupa Patel, Megan Agostonelli and Meredith Sullivan Attend Model United Nations, New York

IB students can easily view CAS requirements as just another thing to do. Although I certainly have felt this way at times, I have to admit that part of the beauty of CAS is how it compels IB students to take risks and perhaps even discover a new passion. My sophomore year, I traveled to New York City with Sturgis’ Model United Nations club to report on the conference for the StormWatch. The conference seemed like fun. Knowing that it counted for CAS as an issue of global importance, I told myself, “Why not try it next year? What can you lose?” So, I joined the club junior year and headed back to New York City that March. I represented Israel in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, and I loved the experience. I discussed state-sponsored terrorism with people from around the country and around the world. I knew after the first night of committee that I wanted to return. Senior year, I was selected among Sturgis’ MUN participants to be on a specialized committee called the International Court  of Justice (ICJ). The fifteen of us debated the legality of the term ‘enemy combatant’ and whether the U.S. had violated international humanitarian law at Guantanamo Bay. By the last day, we had become a close-knit group. Rachel and I, the only two girls in the committee, became especially close and hope to meet up next year if we both earn spots as staffers for NHSMUN. When the case of the Boston Marathon bomber began, my friends from ICJ and I joked that we should send the government our resolution since our debate centered around the same issues which surround the case. Had I never chosen to get involved in MUN as a CAS activity, I would have never realized how much I enjoy international relations and would not have taken the risk of applying to staff at NHSMUN 2014. It’s easy to find activities which can count as “issues of global importance” or “develop new skills”, but the most important aspect of CAS is how it helps you to develop your passions and helps you to grow as a person.

Molly Brennan, Class of 2014 – East

Molly Brennan with Display at CAS Night

CAS was something I approached fearfully at the start of my junior year.  I had heard about the horrors of reflecting and the dreaded learning outcomes.  My prejudice against CAS turned out to be just plain silly because now I really enjoy CAS.  No one will deny that CAS requires effort, but, as do all things that require commitment, it is rewarding. CAS has transformed how I look at both new and old activities.

For me, CAS did not mean that I had to go start a bunch of new activities, but more that I just needed to propose some pastimes.  I have played the violin since I was eight, but never really though that much about it.  I did think about playing the violin, the sounds of the violin, and the enjoyment I found in playing it, but I never really analyzed my progress.  Over the past few months, it has been really helpful for me to look back and see how I am improving.  Some of my reflections about auditions have even become things I can look back on before my next audition as a sort of note to self.  So CAS has actually helped me and not just been a burden.

In Key Club, I had a similar experience.  It was my second year as a member, and through my reflections, I realized that Key Club was a wonderful club with so many opportunities and I was not as involved as I wanted to be.  That led to me running for treasurer and really enjoying my position.  I doubt that I would have noticed that if CAS did not make me actually think about my role in activities and doing my best to ensure that my activities benefit others.

However, those are just service and creativity activities.  I had quite a few activities like those, but I had fewer activities for that middle section of CAS.  In order to ensure that I had action in my portfolio, I started taking ballet for the first time since I was 7.  I had stopped because I could not tell my right from my left, but I was pretty sure that, at the start of junior year, I had overcome that hurtle.  I started off the year in a teen/adult beginner class and quickly fell in love with it.  After the Nutcracker, I started taking another class with younger girls.  At first I was apprehensive because I would be the oldest and it might be weird.  Then I remembered something that many of my teachers in school had told me and I found myself saying quite often:

“It is not the grade that matters, but what you learn.”

I found myself understanding that with ballet.  Even if I felt “stupid”, I was learning more about ballet, enjoying myself, and leaving class significantly less stressed than when I had entered.  I suppose I have two things to thank CAS for with ballet.  Without the threat of failing CAS, I might not have started ballet again. I have been dancing for 8 months now and might start point this summer.  It actually is upsetting to think that I might not have tried ballet.  Thank you, CAS.  Also, I had the opportunity to feel “stupid”, to follow girls much younger than I was in order to learn, and to maybe be “the worst”.  I am glad that I felt that way because it drove me to work harder and to be more mindful of other people who might be feeling that way in classes or activities.  Without CAS I definitely would still feel that way in other activities, but, because of CAS, I reflect on these feelings and put them to use to benefit others.

After almost a full school year of CAS, I may still not be qualified to make a judgment on it.  All I know now is that CAS has made old activities more meaningful to me, made me take risks in others, and made me start completely new ones.  I feel that I am benefitting from CAS and hopefully learning lessons and participating in project that will benefit others.

Maggie Victoria Canty, Class of 2014- West

Maggie Victoria Canty Reading to Children at Hyannis East

As a Sturgis student we are known to be entitled to many amazing opportunities that other high schools do not offer. One of which includes our individual participation in CAS. When being introduced to the IB program, right away it was one of the many components that I had gotten excited about. As a student, CAS is all what you make it. What I have recently come to realize in my experience so far is that CAS does not have to be a chore! Why many of us treat it in that sense, it can be as easy has spending fifteen minutes a week on a project. In my most up to date CAS project I raised over $400- along with two other Sturgis students- to buy books for children of low income families at a local elementary school. For fifteen minutes every week for five weeks, we spent one lunch selling pizza to raise this money. It was an incredible success that we were able to make happen on our own. With the money, we bought just under a hundred books and were able to spend an afternoon reading to kindergarteners at the school. We will continue to help at the school as much as we can, and are scheduled to visit with the children again soon!

Our project was featured in the following article: “High school students lauded for literacy support” Cape Cod Times, May 5, 2013: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130508/OPINION/305080323/-1/WAP

High school students lauded for literacy support

(l-r) Bailey Soderberg, Maggie Canty and Dan Davies
Haleigh Linehan (not pictured)

Four Sturgis West juniors organized and carried out a project to raise money for books for at risk children Kindergartners at Hyannis West Elementary.  On April 11, they delivered over 100 books to the class and read to the children in small groups. They hope to continue to support the literacy program at Hyannis West.

Dear Maggie, Bailey, Dan and Haleigh,

There are not adequate words to express my appreciation for your wonderful literacy project.  Thank you so very much for the fundraising, the book buying and most of all for your appearance at Hyannis West which the kids loved.   You are really amazing students.  I hope we will be able to have you come back again soon.

Thank you all so very much!

Pat Cassidy,  Early Literacy Initiative Coordinator for Hyannis Supporting Our Youth

Lauren Clingan, Class of 2013 – East

Clingan SLTP StarsOne of the CAS activities that has been most important to me during my time at Sturgis is volunteering as a Leadership Trainer for the Student Leadership Training Program (SLTP). SLTP is a non-profit organization with the mission of empowering student leaders. To become certified as a Leadership Trainer, I have been training since the summer within the group of us volunteers, through staff meetings each month, email conversations, the National Staff Conference, and the day conferences we have had throughout the year. This summer I will serve as an LT during one of our week-long camp sessions for our Advanced Leadership Conference. All of us staffers grow to understand why and how we teach leadership skills to students, so that we can most effectively empower student leaders.

SLTP has helped me to grow as a leader, immensely. As I have been a delegate at SLTP conferences for years, and now I am able to share what I have learned and am continuing to learn daily, my ownership of the program has increased and I can make more of a positive difference for others. I see how SLTP helps students to work more cooperatively and effectively with others, to create a comfortable, inclusive learning environment in their schools, to take responsibility for making a difference. We teach hundreds of leadership skills, from within the positive, accepting environment which we intentionally create. When students take those lessons back home to their school communities, the effects of SLTP reach past the weeks of summer camp. Our theme for this year is “choose to believe”; SLTP helps people choose to believe that they can change their schools, their communities, and the world for the better.

The website for SLTP is: www.sltp.info.

Ben Duncan, Class of 2013 – East

Duncan - baseball 1

Ben Duncan Catches Ball at First Base

As an IB student balancing six classes, Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay, it’s hard to recognize CAS as a particularly important aspect of my IB education. Yet CAS helps culminate all the activities that characterize me in a non-academic manner and exemplifies true balance in my lifestyle. Throughout my two years in the program, I look back at the wide array or clubs, teams, and activities I was a part of. My creative activities included Jazz Band and Student Council, my action activities were soccer, baseball, fitness club and ski club, and my service experiences included One Day One Goal, peer tutoring and speaking at school open houses.

One particular CAS activity that stands out as notably significant to me is participation on the Sturgis Baseball Team. I have been part of the varsity team since my freshman year, and each year the team has gotten progressively better. When I arrive on the diamond each day for practice, all my stress or personal worries from the day seem to wear off. The easy-going atmosphere and the physical activity all help get my mind off of my troubles, and focus on the game and my team. I have watched as the team transformed from struggling to win games and postseason hopes diminished in my freshman and sophomore years to helping lead a team that saw winning seasons and two consecutive state tournament visits, a first for Sturgis Baseball. This year as a senior and a captain of the team, I am proud to be part of a successful team that has posted a strong record (best in school history) and gained a reputation throughout the region as a fiercely competing team. Through this team, I have gained a strong sense of camaraderie with my teammates, and a huge level of respect for my coach, whose guidance is not only pertinent to baseball, but life itself. But most importantly, my CAS reflections have helped me realize the importance of these aspects to my own personal development and their applications beyond the baseball diamond. Furthermore, reflecting has fortified my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses as a player, which in effect, has helped me evaluate and improve my playing abilities.

This reflection process has been quite beneficial in all of my CAS activities. As a whole, my participation in the CAS program has introduced me to new ways of finding appreciation, meaning, and benefits to my ongoing extracurricular activities, as well as enhanced understanding of myself as an individual. CAS is just one more of those little things that makes the Sturgis experience so unique, but it has been incredibly impactful in shaping who I am today, and for that, I am indebted and grateful. To future CAS-ers, remember, a little bit of reflection goes a long way.

Ann-drea Morris, Class of 2014 – West

(l-r) Ann-drea Morris, Olivia Carr, Bailey Soderberg, Charley Grossman, Michaela Ryder, Cameron Bass and Tulsi Patel. Key Club Conference – Springfield, MA
(Eva Fahey and Lena Herbst  attended but are not pictured)

It is without the shadow of a doubt that CAS has absolutely changed my life. I honestly had a lot of difficulties at the beginning of my junior year, trying to keep up with my CAS reflections, and just even having a CAS activity. I was always really reserved and I never wanted to be involved in out-of-school activities because I just wanted to go home. I never really thought of how much doing the full International Baccalaureate which consisted of CAS would change the person I am forever for good. I am less reserved, I have been able to test my leadership skills. CAS has increased my awareness of strengths in that, I have seen how much of a positive person I am and how that impacted people. My greatest challenge was of course balancing my academics and the activities. It was extremely hard for me and I cannot even count the times I was going to quit. But I was really determined to take risks and do everything out of my comfort zone. I have also developed great leadership skills and how to become a positive role model for my peers and just the people around me. The most important thing I’ve learned through CAS is definitely working collaboratively with others, creative and be a good leader. I hate to think that I have one more year left in CAS, and I am making the best out of every opportunity because I have a lot of life lessons to take away as well as all the new skills I’ve learned. My advice to people starting the CAS program is be determined, be positive, stay committed and take good risk that will greatly impact you and others in the future. I was blessed with an opportunity to attend a Keyclub District conference that completely changed me.

Excerpt from CAS blog: Reflection on Key Club Conference, April 8, 2013

This is the best weekend I have ever had since I moved to the US.  I feel so different and I got really emotional thinking back on this weekend because I feel completely the same way I always felt when I was back home, overjoyed, lighthearted and free. I learnt a lot in just three days. I learnt how to become a great leader and how to initiate plans for projects. First of all this event really helped me realize me strengths and weaknesses. One of my main strength that I really realize now is my passion for helping others. I have been doing humanitarian work since I was 10 years old. That was my first time going out into the fields and I remember taking my snacks from the hotel and bringing them to the kids I met in a week and calling them my best friends.  My greatest weakness doing these projects as a leader is not being able to let go of the issue even if it is solved. We left with so many ideas to help out club raise money. (HINT: A boys pageant). I have learnt the wonders of working with others and I how fun it was to pan these events with them. I was extremely focused, dedicated and committed during the workshops even thought we were always excited about the dances. The main goal of Keyclub is to address global issues and so that we mainly focused on during these three days. I am really looking forward to next year. My friends have never seen me like this before, funny, lighthearted, happy and just very caring and this is why I feel like I am myself now and I am overwhelmed with joy. This event has assured me of who I really am.

Krupa Patel, Class of 2013 – East

Patel-Key Club

Krupa Patel
(standing far right)

Although CAS may seem minimal for many people, it has been a great influence in my life. It has given me the opportunity to participate in activities that have broadened my life as a student and as a person. Although I was heavily involved in several CAS activities, the one that has influenced me the most is Key Club.

I first discovered this small, still-developing club towards the end of my freshman year. The experience I had with this one organization has taught me to overcome challenges through the many leadership positions the club entails. During my senior year of high school when I was elected as president, I was surprised by all the challenges that the position entailed. I became engaged in challenges dealing with ethics, organizing events, a couple of problems with miscommunication between the club members and officers as well finding the time to fulfill my duties in an orderly fashion. However, over time I was able to learn time management skills that will help me in all my future endeavors. Key Club, in my eyes, was the perfect activity for me as it incorporated all aspects of CAS including creativity, action and service through the numerous fundraising and service projects the club takes part in.  This club not only connects people on a local level, it also has an international focus. Since Key Club is an international organization, one of its aims is providing service all around the world. One way in which this is achieved is through projects such as the Eliminate Project that serves to end neo-natal and maternal tetanus on a global scale. Key Club is also a great way to be introduced to many other service opportunities. If it weren’t for Key Club, I would never have discovered the wonderful Camp Sunshine organization. Camp Sunshine is a retreat camp for children with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, and their families. Camp Sunshine is a New England district project of Key Club and has opened my horizons to the ways I can commit myself to service.  I have met with families and children who are making such a difference in other’s lives by volunteering and giving back their time.

Reminiscing back to the time I began my first CAS reflection, I had so much to write simply because I truly loved what I was doing. The biggest struggle for me with CAS was finding the time to reflect. I would have so much going on that I’d always forget to organize time into my schedule to reflect on what I’d done. Looking back at my past two years, I can fully say I have no regrets when it comes to CAS because I chose the activities I loved and put all my heart into it. The learning outcomes that resulted from CAS activities are just a bonus in my eyes. As I complete these last few weeks of high school, the one thing I know I’ll always remember about my high school experience will be Key Club.

Audrey Peterson, Class of 2014 – East

Peterson costumes

(l-r) Audrey Peterson, Gioia Sabatinelli and Rebecca Lieberwirth

Rather than taking a traditional route with my CAS activities, I went out on a limb with a creativity project proposal, and now it’s ended up becoming the most prominent activity to my CAS portfolio. As I started CAS, I found myself having trouble getting interested in many of my activities, I felt as if I was just going through the motions rather than truly getting something out of them. However, in January, I found myself getting very interested in cosplay, a term coined for the phrase ‘costume play’, which, put simply, is the creation of costumes based off of fictional characters or ideas. I proposed the activity of costume making with baited breath, as I really wasn’t confident that my CAS advisors would approve it, but to my surprise I was met with a very enthusiastic response; and so it began!

At first, I was designing three costumes inspired by characters out of the American webcomic, “Homestuck” specifically for the event Anime Boston, but now have begun the planning for a second convention in August. My goal for my costumes is to try and create as much of these costumes as I could by hand, and I believe I’ve been successful in that. Although many aspects of the costumes have been remodeled off of old clothing from thrift stores and such, as I gain more sewing experience I’ve been creating more and more of my costumes from scratch! For me, this activity is a means of expressing my creativity but also learning new skills, taking on new challenges, gaining time-management experience, and stepping way, way out of my comfort zone.

On April 13th, I attended a “meet-up” at the Boston Commons for the fifth anniversary of the webcomic “Homestuck” along with at least two hundred fans of the comic. While I expected to be met with backlash from people in Boston for our rather outlandish costumes, I found myself getting approached by a handful of people in Boston who were completely unconnected to the event but were interested enough to ask about what exactly was going on and why we were dressed up. The most memorable of these encounters was when a Latin American family with a niece visiting from Guatemala asked if I would be willing to take a photo with her so that she could bring it home. She may have brought the photo home only to giggle over how strange some of these Boston people are, but just the fact that I became a memorable aspect of her trip to America made me just so happy and a bit proud too. Although I have received a fair amount of negative criticism for my costumes as well, moments like those with that family makes it all worth it. With that in mind, my advice to incoming IB students is to skip the traditional route, if that’s what interests you. CAS is about learning more about yourself, your peers, and your community; CAS is about stepping out of your comfort zone and realizing it’s not half as bad as you though, if at all.

Sara Pyrgocki, Class of 2014 – East

STAGE Crew

Sturgis East’s theatre program, entitled STAGE (Sturgis Theatre Arts Guild of Entertainers), has been a major part of my life for the past three years. It gives people of varying degrees of acting or backstage experience a chance to try it out. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had in STAGE have both opened new chances for me in other theatres, but also expanded my social and theatrical abilities. Over the course of the past few years I’ve done a lot of CAS activities, but only now that I am able to reflect on them I understand the significance and value of each of these activities, and the one that has affected me the most is STAGE.

Climbing up in theatrical hierarchy with every show, I notice and perceive different things every time to make the next show better than the last. Doing this activity has helped teach me that the only way to learn is to make mistakes. With every show there will always be technical problems, sideline drama, and minor line slip- ups, but the only way to make it better is practice and persevere. I’ve seen a lot of talented performers and technical workers come and go, some losing interest while others graduate, but one thing that remains with every show is a camaraderie that I’ve never experienced before, similar to that of a wild family.

This year especially has been taxing my personal boundaries, and it will only be all the more exciting next year when Sturgis embarks on its first ever musical experience with our sister school, West, with me as one of the Assistant Directors. To become an AD was one of my goals from my very first day at Sturgis, and I’ve been given a great honor. This will be a new experience, but through great effort the production will turn out just as good, if not better, than any other before. Being completely in an activity that you strongly enjoy hones in skills, and the theatre especially teaches a lot on the tendencies of people, helping in everyday life.

Whatever it is that you love, commit to it completely, because the results are worth the hard work. My leadership abilities, my social skills, and almost every aspect of my life has been changed through STAGE, and CASing about it only makes me realize it more every day.

Sara Sweeten, Class of 2013 – East

Sara Sweeten
(First row -third from right)

For me, CAS was a great way to keep my activities and involvement in the community balanced and organized. While I’ve participated in a number of activities ranging from soccer and lacrosse to the Spanish book club, my most important activity over these past two years has undoubtedly been Key Club. I joined Key Club my freshman year and was elected club editor. From there I served as club president and then lieutenant governor for Cape Cod and most recently, New England and Bermuda District Governor. The idea of “Key Club” is typically seen much smaller than it actually is. Upon joining my first year, I thought it was just a small local club. With attendance at District Convention and then International Convention, I quickly learned that Key Club is an International organization with over 265,000 members worldwide.  Working in an international organization with such a valuable purpose is what has truly kept me dedicated and involved. Serving as New England and Bermuda Governor my senior year, I was faced with a plethora of challenges. With that said, CAS was the perfect outlet to reflect on my challenges and solidify my problem solving skills.

CAS has really taught me to be a balanced student. I think what sets the CAS program and Sturgis apart from other high school education programs is that while academics are still the main focus, there are lots of other expectations — like CAS — for the students with the goal of enhancing their personal growth as well as academic success. I’ve found that while I’m playing a soccer in the fall or lacrosse in the spring, that my GPA is actually higher than it is in the winter when I’m not playing a sport. Seeing as I’m losing 2 hours out of my day through sports, this doesn’t seem entirely logical, but playing sports keeps students active which I think really leads to healthier outcomes all around. Additionally, CAS has done wonders to improve my time management skills.

While the mandatory reflections for CAS always seemed like a burden at the time, my appreciation for having to do them has skyrocketed my senior year. It’s so important to reflect on anything that you do, so that your mind has time to digest what has happened and your approach the next time can be changed for the better. If I could offer any advice to CAS newcomers, it would be to just put yourself out there with no fear. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish. Being a risk-taker is one of the aspects of the IB learner profile, and I think this is the most important trait that will lead to growth. In order to run for Governor, I had to put myself out there and campaign and speak in front of thousands of people. It was intimidating, but had I never tried, I would have never gained all of the positive aspects that came out of the opportunity  “Leap and the net will appear” is one of the truest quotes I know and can certainly be applied to CAS. CAS has provided and will continue to provide students with phenomenal learning experiences.

Christina Wahle, Class of 2014 – West

Christine Wahle

Christine Wahle

I have been a springboard diver for a few years now, and so this year I decided to make diving a CAS activity. I immediately noticed a difference in my outlook on life once I started writing CAS reflections after each of my practices. I learned things about myself that I never would have without CAS. I was able to praise myself for what went well, and to think about what I could do differently to improve the next practice. I came up with goals for myself: a new dive I wanted to learn, the date I was going to learn it, and how I was going to achieve it. Looking back on my reflections, I can see a clear improvement in my attitude towards diving. I definitely became a better diver thanks to CAS, and I am so thankful for that.

Additionally, diving brought to my mind a very important life lesson, which is overcoming fear in order to live to my fullest potential. As I continue learning how to overcome fear in diving, I prepare myself to conquer future obstacles brought about by fear. I will face these obstacles within my relationships, academics, lacrosse, or piano.

My advice to future CAS goers is to think of CAS as a wonderful opppurtunity to write ‘diary entries’ for homework (if you so choose the written reflection). You can vent about any thoughts or frustrations regarding your activities, and become a better person from this process. This will gauranteed make CAS more of a friend and less of an annoying obligation.

Here is one of my early CAS reflections for diving:

AWARENESS ETHICS – TUESDAY, 09 OCTOBER 2012

Last Monday my diving practice was so-so. I was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t get my front 1 1/2 somersault good enough to win Tony’s approval. Therefore I forced myself to do that same dive, over and over again, to try and prove to him that I could do it well. Looking back I am aware that I was seeking to prove rather than improve, which is never a good idea. I also forgot one of my Golden Rules for a Successful Diving Practice: “If a dive is not going well, move on to a different one. You are not abandoning it forever.” In addition I often compare myself to my teammate Megan during practice because she is a really great diver. I have been taking diving lessons for three years and she only one, and already she knows almost all the dives that I have put much time and money into learning. She has an advantage because she is a former gymnast, but I am still bothered. I realize that no matter what there will always be someone better than me, and so I simply need to be the best that I can be… but an internal war inside my mind still persists. I suppose being aware of the problem is the first step to fixing it. Monday was also a hard practice because I attempted to do a front double somersault and it didn’t turn out so well (Megan’s was beautiful.) However, the most important thing here is that I took that risk, and I am proud of myself for this. Doubles are in fact my scariest dive; my heart starts pounding at practice whenever I even think about them.

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