Casie Zwahlen

How am I growing in my own awareness of my strengths and weaknesses?

Church Cafe

When my neighbor asked if I could lend her a hand at her church’s café, I was quick to offer her any assistance. Every Sunday, my neighbor works a café at her church, New Song in San Dimas. The café offers a variety of delicious goods, including coffee, hot chocolate for the children, pancakes, and breakfast burritos. Every other Sunday, I arrive at New Song around 8:30 AM to assist the team in cooking the food and taking orders from customers. I have mentioned before that I am often a shy person, and therefore leaving my comfort zone can often be challenging. As a two time cancer survivor, chemotherapy has left me with moderate to server hearing loss, which makes it difficult to heard other in a noisy environment. Therefore, it is often hard for me to take orders from people. However, after leaving my comfort zone, I have learned ways to deal with my hearing loss. The first step is not being afraid to ask. Asking customers to repeat their order allows me to ensure that I have their order correct so that the team and I can ensure the customers satisfaction. The second way I have learned to deal with my hearing loss is to use humor. The used of humor helps to relax the atmosphere between the customer and the cashier, thereby allowing a conversations to be made to promote a friendly service.

Walking my neighbor’s dog

Over the course of the summer (and still throughout the school year) , I took up a small summer job walking my neighbor’s dog, Gracie, every evening from Monday-Saturday for 30 minutes. Since i have a prosthetic knee in my left leg, walking often becomes tiring for me and my leg. However, I believe that walking every day is a great way for my left leg to build up strength and endurance. It also allows my to speak with my neighbor and learn more about each other. Sandy is such a sweet lady that still carries a fiery soul.


Shyness has always been an obstacle for me to overcome. However, I feel that volunteering for the Charter Oak’s WASC committee and working together with many teachers to help the school earn its accreditation helped me to learn how to interact with adults in new environments. Being able to work with so many of my teachers to make future goals for the school was exciting and hope that the future students of Charter Oak take advantage of the new upcoming opportunities.

Key Club

The DMC for Key Club on Saturday the 14th of September involved all the different divisions at a monthly union where we all get together to discuss school activities and progress. At the DMC, we all gathered round and did fun activities to rally everyone’s spirits. These activities worked to introduce everyone and to break the everyone’s shyness. I felt very comfortable with everyone and hardly felt shy. Being able to play games with everyone and being able to do chants together was very fun. I feel these activities helped not only me, but others to open up and meet new people.

Helping Mrs. Archer

On Saturday, September 29th Shannon and I volunteered to help our history teacher, Mrs. Archer serve breakfast for the homeless at Union Station. This event was another wonderful opportunity to be able to serve those in need. Working with everyone in the kitchen was very fun and we all enjoyed being able to work with each other outside of class. I have found that with each event, I have become more outgoing and am willing to try new things. Helping out at Union Station reminded me of last year when I helped out with Pomona First Baptist Church Thanksgiving Dinner event. Seeing the smile on everyone’s face when the received his or her food made me happy to have made a difference.

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Flags of Valor

For two years in a row, I have attended the Covina’ Rotary Club Flags of Valor. The Flags of Valor was a wonderful event to honor those who have fought for our country and to honor those who have died for our country. Setting up 2,000 flags at Sierra Vista Middle Schools’ field took a lot of effort, but thanks to all the volunteers that showed up at the event made it all worthwhile and we were able to finish setting up in about 3 hours.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Working alongside other members of Key Club, I volunteered at Pomona First Baptist Church Thanksgiving Dinner. This event included creating a clothing shop where clothe were sorted and distributed to those in need. After the clothing shop, guest gathered in the gymnasium and Thanksgiving dinner was served to the guest. Volunteering at the Pomona First Baptist Church Thanksgiving Dinner involved a lot of interacting with other volunteers, however I feel as if I had grown more confident in how I interact with others.

What challenges have I been through?

Remembrance Walk

Walking the Remembrances walk is always a great opportunity to walk with friends and remember all the wonderful people who have touched our lives. When I was fighting cancer, I wasn’t always fighting the battle alone. Two others my age were in the same boat I was in as the three of us battled out cancer. Hannah and Nathan were two of my best friends from the hospital who lost their battles with cancer and pasted away. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about their strength and courage. I through the Remembrance Walk, I feel that I am able to honor their bravery and their smiles. It is very easy to forget the frailness of life as we often forget to step back from the big picture to examine the small details on life. While talking with my friends at the event, we all agree that being able to appreciate the little things in life holds secret values that can make life much more enjoyable.

Knee Replacement

After fighting cancer I was left with a knee replacement. I now have a prosthetic knee in my left leg that limits me from doing any heavy physical activity. Walking Gracie every day allows my to exercise everyday and strengthen my knee.


I have never like large crowds, however the DMC had such a nice relaxing atmosphere that it was easy to open up and talk to some of my clubs members that I never really get a chance to talk to. Meeting new people can often seem intimidating, especially for shy people. However, through the cheerful atmosphere established by everyone, it was easy to interact with everyone.

Flags of Valor

Having knee replacement has often made walking for long distances difficult. However, thanks to all the walking I do for my neighbor’s dog, walking in the Flags of Valor event proved to be manageable. There was a lot of walking around the field and a lot of walking back a forth to the truck to pick up the next flag. However, seeing all the help for locals and all the boy and girl scouts, made the experience enjoyable.

In what ways have I started new challenges?

Walking my neighbor’s dog

Walking Gracie also became a challenge to improve my health by getting my daily exercise. I am not a very active person, however walking Gracie allowed my to set a daily routine of going out and walking around the neighborhood and seeing my community rather than staying inside and watching TV all day. Walking Gracie has also allowed has made me close friends with Sandy as we learn a little more about each other with each visit. I’m always amazed by the stories she tells. It’s amazing what you can learn from your elders!


One challenge I hope to continue is learning to be outgoing and ready for new challenges when meeting new people. Being shy can be hard to interact, however learning to ask the first questions when meeting someone new are the stepping stones to being less shy and more outgoing. Communication is important, therefore, building interactive skill is a process that I hope to see continue to grow. Learning to interact with others is also another skill that can be worked on as one learns to be independent.

Helping those in need

A new goal that I hope to continue is to continue volunteering in events that aid those in need of food or shelter. Seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces felt like I was making a difference in peoples’ lives and I was glad to have been a help. Being able to go out and meet new people is an excellent way to become involved in one’s community.

In what ways have I developed new skills?


On March 27, 2014, I volunteered to help Mrs. Archer sign in athletes at her track and field game. My job during the track meet was to sign people in for their next race. I wrote down the first initial, the last name, the school and their division on a name tag which would allow them to compete in their race. While the job was simple enough, trying to listen to names being spelled while having the crowds cheer and runners running in the background made listening slightly difficult. However, I continued to use humor as a way of communicating with the athletes and doing my task of signing in names.

Church Cafe

Having the confidence to ask and the knowing how to use humor are the two skills that I have developed while working for the New Song Café. However, I have found that these skills are great skills to use outside of the café. Asking is often the first step to opening new doors. I feel more comfortable in my Spanish class to ask for help of to have a question repeated. I feel more confident when I go out to shop or eat by myself, asking for daily specials or special bargains. Here, I have seen a development of my independence and in myself as a person. This skill is great to have especially since I will be going off to college very soon. Humor is the next skill that I think is very valuable to have. The use of humor can be used in many different situations. I have found the use of humor to be great in presentations as it allows me to find a meeting ground with my audiences, allowing my presentation to seem more entertaining and less dull. Humor allows me to communicate with my audience in an understandable way. Humor is also an excellent way to exercise one’s social skills. Learning to communicate is essential to be successful, however, learning good social skills and understanding how to interact with people can aid one in just about any job. Besides, I believe learning to interact with others is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.


Learning to be independent is a process that one learns through new experiences and I feel that being able to make decisions for the future of Charter Oak was a great way to explore that process by making decisions with a group of wonderful teachers. These decisions would affect the incoming students over the next six years, therefore, there was a large amount of responsibility, and each decision needed careful consideration. However, after two WASC meetings, I feel confident that many students will benefit from the choices made.

Public Speaking

Getting up in front of a class takes courage. The same can be said when meeting new people. Courage is a valuable trait to have as it is used in various situations. The skill I work on every day is less about finding courage, rather learning to maintain courage to try new things. Maintaining courage may not sound like a lot, however, when one is in the moment, knowing how to have the courage is what I think matters most.


Confidence is a skill that I have been developing whenever I interact with new people. Over the course of different volunteer events and throughout school, I believe that this skill has grown stronger and can be seen in the way I present myself to others. Confidence is another important skill to have as an independent citizen and I am glad to be able to build upon this skill.

Dia De Los Muertos

On Saturday, October 26, my family and I decided to attend the Covina’s Día de Los Muertos festival in Covina Park. Going to the festival was a great way to learn more about the Hispanic culture and to learn how the Hispanics embrace the dead. While my family and I observed the different alters, I was able to work up the courage and confidence to talk to the owners of the alters and to learn more about the culture. I was proud of myself for being able to converse with others about a unique tradition.


In what ways have I shown perseverance and commitment to my activities?

Remembrance Walk

For the past three years, I have been volunteering my time at the Remembrance walk, celebrating the time to honor our loved ones and appreciating the friends and family who are still in our everyday lives. The past years I have helped as part of Key Club to clean up after the ceremony and clean up the track field. This year as the Dinner Chair of Sharing Our Humanity, I aided several other clubs in the clean-up process for this year’s Remembrance walk. Several of my friends and I helped to clean up the complementary snacks, including the donuts, the coffee, and the hot chocolate. We also helped to take down the foldable tables and the chairs, in which several of the boys whom were volunteering, helped to carry the tables and chairs back to their original storage areas.

Time Management

Time management and learning to live a balanced life are two very important concepts that I have learned from IB. Therefore, I have arranged to volunteer at the New Song Café every other Sunday. This allows me to have a balanced life style with school, yet still have the opportunity to help café and see the team. By going every other weekend allows me to maintain my commitment to the café and enjoy an active social life. To attempt to do every Sunday and still be diligent in school would prove inefficient as there are simply not enough hours in a day to finish all school work and volunteer. This is where the concept of time management plays an important role. I understand that it is impossible to do everything, therefore, by knowing my limits and learning to measure time has proved to be a valuable asset on my journey through IB.

Walking my neighbor’s dog

Commitment is a key skill that is involved with walking Gracie. It taught me how to manage my time around my vacations and school work to still find time to walk Gracie. Both Sandy and Gracie are such sweet people, therefore, I’m always ready to continue my job and keep my promise of daily exercise.


Two WASC meetings were held after a minimum day from 1PM to 3 PM. However, I was willing to dedicate my personal time to help improve our school and to offer my opinion on current and future events regarding Charter Oak High Schools. Many teachers and parents were attentive to our opinions and valued our thoughts. WASC allowed me to be a part of a bigger project and I was more than happy to give a helping hand when I asked.

Flags of Valor

The first year I volunteered for the Flags of Valor, I was amazed by all the local families that came to support the event. I was especially touched by all the soldiers that showed up to contribute their time to show respect to their comrades and their country. When I heard they were going to have the Flags of Valor again, I was excited to be able to rejoin such an amazing festival. This year, there were many more volunteers then there were last year. I made me happy to think that this event was growing. I look forward to seeing the event becoming more popular.

Pomona First Baptist Church

This has been my second year of helping the Pomona First Baptist Church and I was glad to have had to opportunity to help again. Working together with member of my school and with others was a great way to interact with others. This year, it was nice to already have any idea on how the shop worked as I felt I was able to help set up the room more efficiently. While setting up the tables, I was able to aid other by giving out advice and laying out the clothing in the proper department.

Día de Los Muertos

My family and I had an amazing time at the Día de Los Muertos festival last year and therefore, we decided to go to the festival again this year. Walking around all the different shops and seeing all the different alters was enlightening. I enjoyed teaching my parents about the tradition and explaining to them how death isn’t feared, rather it is embraced as families gather to remember those they have lost.

In what ways have I worked collaboratively?

Sharing Our Humanity

Sharing Our Humanity is a club dedicated and run by IB students, where each year has a new theme and a chosen charity that goes along with the chosen theme. The members of Sharing Our Humanity worked together every year to host a dinner at Charter Oak High School to raise awareness and to raise donations for the chosen charity. This year’s theme was the importance of fresh water resources, therefore the charity the club decided to sponsor was called The Water Project. Getting together in early February, the club members and I worked together to decide dinner ideas and to create a list of different jobs that would need to be carried out for the dinner. Foods were cooked and brought to the dinners. Many of the members arrived early enough to allow enough time to decorate the room and decorate the tables with centerpieces and glass beads. Thanks to Megan Buckley for the donation of the jars, Vanessa Vazquez and I were able work together to use the jars and make roughly twenty centerpieces for the tables at our dinner. Together with the help of the members and staff of the club, we were able to host a wonderful dinner and allow for an interesting presentation hosted by our guest speaker. After the dinner, we were all able to clean up the tables and the kitchen and thanked everyone for their dedication and hard work.

Church Cafe

Working at the New Song Café has proved different then working on group projects. Within group projects, normally, but not always, there is a main leader of the group while the others follow the leader. However, at the café, everyone is in charge of their own station and must work together to properly cook and assemble all the main dishes. One may be cooking the scrambled eggs, while another may be cooking the meat, but when an order comes through, everyone must work together to fulfill the order. If you have ever been to a restaurant or a diner, the atmosphere is very similar as we often have to keep several orders in our heads at once. Learning to work together and multitask has helped the café to be a great success.


The WASC meetings required collaboration between students and teachers in order to provide accurate evaluations of Charter Oak. Thus, students and teachers worked together to answer a series of questions. The first meeting answered questions about Charter Oak’s current state and the second meeting answered questions about future decisions for Charter Oak’s future. I offered my opinion when the teachers seemed to hit a wall and together I feel that our efforts will be valuable.

Pediatric Trauma Program (PTP) Pie Fundraiser

Another fun aspect of Key Club’s DMC was the Pediatric Trauma Program (PTP) Pie Fundraiser. For the fundraiser, all the presidents from each club formed a line and allowed all members to throw whip cream pies in their faces. Each pie cost $1 and all the money collected was donated to the PTP. It was fun to work with the presidents and watch the many presidents receive whip cream pies. It was very noble of all the presidents to sacrifice their faces, but after the fundraiser, I believe everyone thought it was worth the effort.

Pediatric Trauma Program (PTP) Pie Fundraiser

In the kitchen, Shannon and I worked to create a variety of different breakfast dishes. We worked together to open cans of fruit cocktails and created a fruity side dish. Then we worked together at the beagle cart, cutting open beagles and adding cream cheese to each roll. For a short time, I aided Mrs. Archer in cracking eggs so that she may cook up a wonderful batch of scrambled eggs. When we were ready to open, Shannon and I worked to serve the guests, combining all the various dishes to create a delightful breakfast to serve.

Helping Mrs. Archer

Two days in a row, myself and several other students aided Mrs. Archer in setting up her room so that her honors world history classes could have a stimulation on the French Revolution. Being able to set up the class brought back memories of from when we did the stimulation in our freshman year. Helping to set up the stimulation made me excited for the freshmen as I remembered how fun the stimulation was. Working with the other students, we were able to set up the room in less than 15 minutes. I was happy to be able to aid Mrs. Archer so that her freshman could share the same experience that we did when we were freshmen.

Flags of Valor

Together with such a large crowd of people, it made the event enjoyable and was wonderful to watch as all 2,000 flags assembled on the field. When we were finished it was amazing to stand back and watch all 2,000 flags flying in the wind. Over the course of the week, whenever we would drive by the school, seeing all the flags made me proud to know that I was a part of such an event. Being able to honor the one who have fought for our country made me proud to be an American.

Key Club

Working together with other members of Key club and volunteers from other schools, we were able to create our own shop that would be used to hand out clothes to those in need. Every side of the room represented a different department ranging from men’s clothing to kids clothing. Once the room was properly set up each volunteer monitored a station and helped pass out clothes. I monitored the kids department along with several other volunteers. I enjoyed being able to talk to the little kids that showed up at the table. I was glad I could bring a smile to their face. Once the clothing shop was over, we quickly cleaned up, then headed to the gymnasium to help pass out Thanksgiving dinners to all the guest.

In what ways have I been engaged in issues with global importance?

The Water Project

Within the United States, few people realize the importance of fresh water and just how small the supply of water is. Where in other places of the world, some people simply do not have the luxury to access fresh water. With these thoughts in mind, the members of Sharing Our Humanity decided to make a difference by choosing water to be this year’s theme. The Water Project was this year’s chosen charity that helps small villages in Africa gain access to fresh water by using the money donated to drill wells that are connected to a fresh water source. We learned through the charity, that once fresh water had been established, health can improve and even the irrigations systems were improved as farmers now had the ability to water their crops. Therefore, food also became more available. Our guest speaker at the dinner mainly focused her presentation of California water politics and helped us to understand that a majority of Southern California’s water comes from the north and from lakes. This understanding made me realize that my community is very similar to an oasis in a desert. It is an odd way to think that my home is an oasis, yet it makes sense. Every year, as I leave Covina and travel north towards Washington to visit my grandparents in the summer, my family and I pass miles and miles for dried farmland and yellow grass. Thinking about the metaphor of the oasis gave me a different perspective on how I view my home and how I use my water. When I arrive in Washington, I’m always amazed by the amount of green trees in the north that is constantly experiencing water in compared to Southern California, where heavy rains are often rare. By looking at my own community, has allowed me to understand the importance of water. With this understanding, I am satisfied with our decision to sponsor The Water Project and to be able to help spread the availability of water in Africa.

Breakfast at Union Station

The breakfast serving at union station reminded me the importance of being grateful for the food that we have. In many parts of the world, many people my own age struggle to get daily food supplies. Therefore, I believe that it is importance that we remind ourselves to be thankful for what we have and take the time to aid those in need.

Breakfast at Union Station

The breakfast serving at union station reminded me the importance of being grateful for the food that we have. In many parts of the world, many people my own age struggle to get daily food supplies. Therefore, I believe that it is importance that we remind ourselves to be thankful for what we have and take the time to aid those in need.

Día de Los Muertos

Día de Los Muertos is a Hispanic culture that originated form the ancient Aztecs. Therefore, by attending the festival allowed me to learn more about a culture outside of the United States. By having such festivals allows communities to learn about different customs and thereby, we are able to understand and respect other cultures.

What are the ethical or moral implications of what I’m doing and learning?

Pie Fundraiser

The money that was raised in the Pie Fundraiser goes towards the Pediatric Trauma Program which helps to educate people of the importance of children’s safety and to prevent children’s injuries and deaths. I believed that the pie fundraiser was a great way to raise money for the PTP as in was a fun and easy way for everyone. Knowing the money will be used to protect children is a great cause and all the reason why the fundraiser should continue in the following years.

Helping Those in Need

Taking the time to aid individuals is a cause that is not often follow through. Therefore, when one takes the time out of their lives to aid another person, it can be very fulfilling. I felt very happy that I was able to aid those in need I hope that the others felt the same.

Flags of Valor

The Flags of Valor was an amazing opportunity to remember those who have fought for our country. When volunteering at the festival I made sure to be thankful to all the soldier who were fighting and to those that have died for our country. Many of us live peaceful lives and often forget to that there are soldiers who are risking their lives to protect our country. I believe the Flags of Valor ceremony is a great way to show our support to the soldiers in the forces.

Thanksgiving dinner

Similar to the Union Station Breakfast, this event reminded me to be thankful for what I have and to be mindful of others situations. Being able to help at the Pomona church allowed me another opportunity to aid those in need. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I was glad I could bring a Thanksgiving dinner to someone who deserved one.

Attending Cultural Events

Attending cultural events are a great way to spread cultural awareness about different cultural traditions. When we learn and understand a custom, we have the ability to acknowledge a culture and can thereby develop a respect for that culture. Taking the time to understand can help to contribute to cultural unity as well as international unity. Respecting different traditions is an ethical cause because it allows for better communication between all races and cultural societies.

Creative 7/8/2013

Monday-Wednesday, July 1-3, and Monday, July 8, 2013, I volunteered to help Mrs. Grund do grading for her summer school Health Class. I’d go in everyday around 10:30 and she would have me grade her class activities. It was fun to go in and see Mrs. Grund. Going into the class brought back a lot of memories from when I took the class the summer of my sophomore year. Grading papers gave me insight on what it is like to be a teacher. I thought it was a lot of fun.

Service 6/1/2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013, I volunteered to help Linda McClure run the Covina Green Fair down at Heritage Park. From 8:45 to 11:00, I helped the team set up tables and games for the kids to enjoy. First I was sectioned in the outdoor area where I inflated six inner tubes and finished setting up the outdoor games. Then I traveled over to the arts and craft area, where I stayed for the rest on the event. I set up the tables and laid out all the crafts. My partner and I had fun making examples of the different crafts. We made pasta necklaces, door signs, bookmarkers, and sock puppets. From 11:00 to 2:00, I was in charge of helping the children make the door signs and bookmarkers. It was so much fun to be able to help the kids and watch their creations and designs come to life. It was a great turn out, since lots of families and members of the community showed up. I look forward to doing another event like this in the near future.

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During Spring Break this year, I took my first trip outside of the U.S. and traveled to Italy, Monaco, France and Spain. Being immersed in different cultures taught me many different life lessons. The number one thing it taught me was how to be more independent. By being away from family it allowed me to test my independence and was a great way to prep for college. It was amazing to be able to communicate with the other people from the different areas and cultures. Seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces when I spoke their native tongue really made me happy and let me know that my practice was put to good use. I definitely feel more confident in my Spanish speaking skills. Body language was another great was to communicate with the locals. The trip also helped me to boost me confidence in interacting in large crowds. Also rooming with my friends made it seem like our own little family. I had a great time in Europe and hope others get the chance to visit like I was able to.

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Action 5/30/2013

On March 1-3, I was selected by RYLA, Rotary Youth Leadership awards, to attend a weekend leadership camp. The camp was help up at Astrocamp in Idyllwild, CA. Megan B., Olivia C., Shadi A., Christian S., and I were all selected to spend three days learning about leadership and what makes a good leader. There were many other students that were attending from other schools and districts. Some students even came from Nevada. The way camp was set up was that each student was divided into a specific continent. Within the six continents, there were six different cities that were located in that continent. My group was London, England. Upon our arrival we wasted no time in getting started. We had several preliminary sessions throughout the camp to introduce activities and how the camp worked. One of the leadership activities that we did at the camp was called the Trust Wall. This was a trust building activity were one person would stand on the bleachers of the gym and fall into a net that was being held by your group members. By trusting out teammates to catch us, we were able to build trust and reliability within the team. I feel that through this camp, I’ve learned to have more self-confidence in my leadership skills and be more willing to take risks. I even made new friends while I was there. One of the students that I met happened to be an exchange student from France. It was really interesting to learn more about the similarities and differences between France and America. To my surprise many students at the RYLA camp were in the IB programs as well. It was nice to know that other students outside of Charter Oak are on the same journey as I am. I learned that it is important to be open-minded and ready for any adventure that is coming your way.


Service 5/30/2013

On March 20, 2013, I volunteered the help Mrs. Archer set up hurtles for the Charter Oak Track and Field games. Being a former and future student of hers, I was more than happy to lend her my support. After school on Wednesday, I left my sixth period and headed down to the track to sign in. It was my first time so I had no clue what my job was. Luckily, I had several of my friends there to guild me through the process. It definitely wasn’t easy though. For one thing, the hurtles are heavy. And due to my height, I could only move 1-2 hurtles at a time. Once I learned the schedule, it became a simple routine. I enjoyed working and bonding with my classmates and cheering on the Charger athletes. I look forward to helping Mrs. Archer with future track meets next year.


On February 2, 1013, my family and I took part in the Charter Oak Remembrance Walk. Despite the difficulties in getting out of bed after a long week if IB work, it was quite enjoyable to be able to leave my house and spend some personal family time with my dad and my little sister. Besides, I got to do something besides stare at the walls of my room. I walked with my family in honor of my neighbor and my aunt who had recently passed away. Seeing everyone there walking to remember their loved one really put a smile on my face. I was happy to know that people could take the time out of their busy lives to take part in such a memorable event. I was able to get 4 whole laps in as part of my daily exercise. I was able to hang out and chat with many of my friends! I had a great time. After the walk ended, I volunteered as part of the Key Club to help clean up the track. Thanks to all of our efforts, cleaning time was easy and fast. I look forward to next year’s Remembrance Walk.

Service 12/23/2012

On Saturday, December 22, 2012, I volunteered in decorating rose parade floats in Pasadena. It was definitely an experience to remember. I arrived at the event at 9 ‘o’ clock where we were allowed into the warehouse after we received our instructions and safety precautions. Once inside we were picked to do certain jobs that range from cutting flower petals to painting the float with flowers.  I learned a lot about the strict routine that takes place in order to create the best looking floats. During my volunteer hours I found that I deeply respect the many volunteers that work daily on these beautiful floats. There are strict codes that must be enforced when decorating the floats and the warehouse if kept at very cold temperatures in order to keep the flowers fresh. So it wasn’t a surprise to find your hand turning into ice cubes. It was fun seeing the dedication in everyone’s eyes and made me feel a part of something big.

Creative 12/15/2012

On October 27, my family and I went to the Covina 2nd annual Día de Los Muertos Celebration. It was a real treat and tons of fun. There were venders all over the park, food vendors selling delicious foods, and families displaying their alters to honor their love ones. It was fun to explain to my parents the significance of the alters and why this holiday is celebrated by many Hispanic families. We took our time admiring the many alters that were displayed at the park. One lady was kind enough to explain to us about her father’s past and what kind of a person he was.  She had decorated her alter with many pictures and some of her father’s favorite foods. My family and I were moved by her story and I felt like I had known her father. After looking at all the alters we headed to the vendors to do some shopping. There were lots of beautiful art works that represented and illustrated the Día de Los Muertos. After an hour we stopped at several food venders to grab a bite to eat. My family and I even stumbled upon some of our friends where we had a great time talking to one another. Día de Los Muerto is a Hispanic tradition that brings families together as they celebrate the significance of family and life. I learned a lot about this holiday and felt like I had gotten closer with my own family. I felt honored to be a part of this celebration. My parent and I had a great time and can’t wait to go next year.

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Service 12/15/2012

On November 24, I volunteered with Megan and Olivia at Pomona First Baptist Church. We assisted the church in feeding and handing out clothes to the homeless and those less fortunate. The three of us unpacked boxes of donated clothes and laid them out for the clothes shop. After about an hour and a half we had clothing stations for men, women, and children. Soon we opened our doors and took our time serving our customers and making sure all of their needs where met. I had a great time being able to help families find clothes and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces helped to brighten my day. I made new friends while I was maintaining the women’s section and felt proud of myself for stepping out of my shy zone. After another hour we packed up the remaining cloth and headed to the gym to serve our guest a Thanksgiving dinner. Afterwards, we cleaned up the gym, folding tables and chairs, and did a closing ceremony. I felt really proud of myself for being able making a difference in their lives. I learned to be very appreciative for all the things that I own and to be happy to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.

Service 12/15/2012

On Saturday, November 3, 2012 I volunteered to participate in the Covina Rotary Clubs Flag of Valor ceremony set-up.  I volunteered to go as a member of the Key Club.   My dad and I, along with several other war Veterans and volunteers, all met at the Mormon Church in Covina.  We were given an American flag to carry as we marched over to Sierra Vista Middle School from the church.  We all worked together to lay out 2,000 American Flags.  It was a lot of walking back and forth, bending and lifting, to set up all those flag poles, but after about three hours we had finally laid out all 2,000 flags.  It was an amazing sight to see all 2,000 American Flags blowing in the wind.  I felt very proud to have been part of this ceremony and to demonstrate the respect I feel for the men and women that fight for our freedom.

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Service 12/15/2012

I volunteered with the Earth Club to do a monthly trash pick-up at Charter Oak High School. After school I went to Ms. Foy’s classroom where I geared up and headed out with another member to sweep around the school.  We searched around all the planters and remote corners of the school, and found a fair amount of trash around the school.  I found this heartbreaking that students chose not to dispose of their trash properly, and disappointed that we are not taking better care of our one and only planet.  I have to say that I felt a sense of pride that our campus looked cleaner and hoped that others would notice and begin to place trash into the trash cans.

Action 12/15/2012

During the summer I applied to take part in a Youth Leadership Forum for kids with disabilities.  I was extremely honored when I was chosen to participate in the program. Only 60 high school students in California could be accepted and I was one of them. I was flown up to our states capital in Sacramento to be a part of this once in lifetime opportunity. I stayed at Cal-State Sacramento campus and slept in the dorms. I learned a great deal at this forum. I learned about the rights that disabled people have to how to live an independent life with disabilities. The most amazing experiences for me was being around courageous, smart, kind, and caring students that happen to have some sort of disability, but didn’t let their disabilities slow them down.  This experience motivated me to be myself and except others the way they are.

Creative 12/15/2012

“During summer this year, I went on my annual trip to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Time.  This is a special summer camp for kids with cancer, and their siblings to get out of their homes for a week and experience many different activities.  My younger sister and I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend came for several years.  This year was one of the best camp trips I have ever had.  During the six days we were there, I really challenged myself to be more open to people and to break out of my shy shell.  I spoke to new campers, was loud, and made two really awesome friends. One of the activities was a two mile hiking trip.  After connecting with Mother Nature for several hours, we reached our destination, set up camp, and later slept under the stars.  I enjoyed the hike because it’s a wonderful chance to help others, whether it’s carrying someone’s packs to simply chatting with them during rest periods.  I also helped our younger camper by directing their activities and taught them about archery.  Camp is a super place to meet new friends, learn to work as a team, and to help counsel and teach our newer campers about giving back and how profound that feeling can be.

3 Responses to Casie Zwahlen

  1. Pingback: January Is All About CAS and NHS | iblong

  2. Pingback: The Reason We’re an IB World School…It’s Who We Are! | iblong

  3. Pingback: Matthew Rios, Megan Buckley, Christian Shenk and Casie Zwahlen « iblong

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