December 2nd is the Heart of Gold Award announcement
Ocean Academy students and teachers have been voting for Danny Michel in the CBC Heart of Gold competition that recognizes Canada's top 20 musicians who are making a positive difference in the world through contributions to charitable causes. You still have time to cast your vote until 3:00pm December 1st. The shortlist will be announced on December 2nd. The Heart of Gold website link is below.
December 2nd is the Matching Funds Donation Day
This is the day to have your donations matched dollar per dollar right here on Danny Michel's Global Giving page. Ocean Academy was selected to participate in a Microsoft YouthSpark $350,000 Matching Funds Campaign in recognition of our work with youth, entrepreneurship and technology education.
This is how the matching funds campaign works:
2014 has been a great year, as these photos show, and we hope you will help us celebrate the upcoming holidays with a donation to the Danny Michel Scholarship Fund.
Heart of Gold
We all know that Danny Michel and fans have hearts of gold. Now we have an opportunity to spread the word with a simple vote! Danny has been nominated for the CBC Musician Heart of Gold Award that recognizes Canada's top 20 musicians who are making a positive difference in the world through contributions to charitable causes. Ocean Academy students and teachers are voting for Danny every day until December 1st, and we ask you to join us. The Heart of Gold website link is below.
Mark December 2nd on your calendar
The Heart of Gold shortlist will be announced on December 2nd. Also on December 2nd is a great fundraising opportunity to match your donations dollar per dollar right here on Danny Michel's Global Giving page. Ocean Academy was selected to participate in a Microsoft YouthSpark $350,000 Matching Funds Campaign because of our work with youth, entrepreneurship and technology education. For example, Ocean Academy students are learning Hour of Code and Adobe video editing in their computer classes, and are also creating their own mobile apps.
Thank you, as always, for your continued good wishes and financial support. We will send you a reminder report on December 1st about the Matching Funds campaign and the Heart of Gold vote, along with more school photos and stories.
Caye Caulker Ocean Academy High School's Aquatic Tourism Program has won the prestigious Beyond Sports 2014 Award in the category Sport for Education (sponsored by UNICEF). The Beyond Sport Awards celebrate and reward the best projects from around the world that use sport to bring about positive social change. Ocean Academy's project was selected from 350 entries spanning 70 countries. School founders Joni Miller and Heidi Curry were invited to Johannesburg, South Africa October 28-30 for the Awards ceremony and they represented Belize on an international panel addressing the theme of how sports can inspire youth to become leaders in their communities.
Shortly after the Beyond Sport recognition, Ocean Academy students were again honored with a prestigious award, this time from the Belize Department of Youth Services. Students accepted a National Youth Award that recognizes the Environmental aspect of the Aquatic Tourism Program, as well as the school's other small business venture: culinary herb sales by the Compost & Gardening Club.
Aquatic Tourism Programme
Ocean Academy was founded in 2008 as Caye Caulker’s first high school. In addition to traditional high-school subjects, all students select an elective and P.E. (physical education) class each semester. Students who select Aquatic Tourism are mentored by skilled tour guides and earn valuable certifications in kayaking, scuba diving, fly fishing or windsurfing, all at no cost thanks for strong partnerships with local tour operators. Workshops in entrepreneurship, marine biology, first aid, tour guiding, communication and leadership skills complement the P.E. program.
Sandie Betz-Eisenberg says that “as soon as my son Spenser saw the video of the Aquatic Tourism classes he exclaimed, ‘That’s where I want to go to school!’ His marine biology and especially fly fishing classes have given him the opportunity to pursue his passion for the sea and to get credit for it at the same time. Ocean Academy has been instrumental in connecting Spenser with people who can help him to follow and live his dreams. I believe that we couldn't ask for more than that, as that is what every parent wishes for their children”.
Ocean Academy's "With Purpose Tours" adds an entrepreneurial element to the Aquatic Tourism Program. Trained students accompany visitors by kayak, bike or fishing rod around Caye Caulker and interpret the marine and terrestrial ecosystems and sites from the perspective of the island youth. Visitors fill out evaluation forms after each trip that assist administrators in designing follow-up training sessions for student leaders, and trip donations are credited to the student's school fees, family income, and school scholarship fund. The Aquatic Tourism Program highlights the positive impact that location-based learning can have on a student’s future employment possibilities and the likelihood to remain in school once he/she is engaged in real-world interactions and learning.
Parent Johnny Cantun Sr. recalls that "since Johnny Jr. was a little boy he has loved fishing. That’s one of the reasons I put him here at this high school. Ocean Academy has classes in fly fishing, scuba, kayak, marine biology. It’s what the island needs. Johnny loves fishing but now he also wants to be an architect and he enjoys learning how to make mobile apps in computer class. Ocean Academy is the best school for me to send my son so that he learns skills that will benefit himself, his future, and also the island".
The Beyond Sport Award and National Youth Award are among several success stories for Ocean Academy students. Since 2009, 36 students have certified as PADI Open Water scuba divers, 19 are advanced divers, and two alumni are Dive Masters. Six students and one administrator enrolled in a month-long night class for tour guides and community members, in 2012, to learn how to set transects and conduct surveys of invertebrates, juvenile fish, corals, commercial fish and marine mammals. They graduated as Community Reef Technicians. The Department of Youth Services awarded Ocean Academy student Kyle Requena the 2013 National Youth in Tourism Award. After graduation Kyle worked alongside his mentor to compete in an international fly-fishing tournament and he is now an assistant fly-fishing instructor with Ocean Academy.
“Ocean Academy has created many opportunities for students to get involved in the tourism industry here on Caye Caulker, from conducting beach cleanups to sharing local knowledge of island ecosystems with visitors,” says Joni Miller, school Founder and Projects Director. “These mentorships and entrepreneurial opportunities not only attract non-traditional students to enroll in high school, but also help our students improve their overall set of professional skills that are transferable to any career or educational path they may follow”.
Aquatic Sport opportunities for Ocean Academy students are possible thanks to partnerships with Caye Caulker tour operators who freely volunteer their time, expertise and resources to mentor local youth. Ocean Academy extends a heart-felt thank you to Toucan Canoe and Kayaks (kayaking), Belize Diving Services (scuba diving), Anglers Abroad (fly-fishing), Dane Dingerson (windsurfing), and the Forest and Marine Reserves Association of Caye Caulker (reef and mangrove ecology). Beyond Sport and UNICEF join a growing list of international sponsors of Ocean Academy’s Aquatic Tourism program: the Embassy of the United States, Belmopan (CARSI grant for alternative livelihoods and training for youth), Kenco Outdoor Equipment Store in New York State and Jackson Kayak in Tennessee.
Nick Keller, Founder of Beyond Sport concluded the Summit and Awards with the message that “all our winners represent the very best in leadership both in society and their own communities. Amongst all the remarkable work, the winners have demonstrated innovation and impact at an exceptional level and are an inspiration to all; we hope winning today further strengthens the incredible work they have already achieved”.
Graduation Ceremony and Scholarship Awards are June 13-14th - You likely remember from past reports that Danny Michel was our 2013 Master of Ceremonies. Your donations and support were very important in helping many of these students reach the graduation stage. Thank you for continuing to care about the education of Caye Caulker youth. Your donations and scholarship pledges through the Danny Michel Fund are truly appreciated. Our next report will feature photos of this year's proud graduating class of 2014. We know that Danny and all of you, his supporters, will be there in spirit cheering for the students.
Annual Science Fair draws crowds: Children from the primary school were curious and impressed as Ocean Academy students demonstrated concepts such as flubber, fireworks in a bottle, keeping cool and of course, the ever-popular volcano eruptions.
Sports Day: Community members and tourists lined the beach to watch Ocean Academy students compete in sandcastle building, water runs to fill bottles with sponges, sack races, tug-o-war, slowest bike races and water balloon toss. In addition to being great fun, student teams showed sportsmanship and team spirit.
School Supply Drive: The Belize Association of Houston is hosting a big school supply drive. They have teamed up with Belize Freight to ship much-needed supplies free of charge to Ocean Academy. There is a wishlist posted that includes desktop computers, printers, file cabinets, display cases, art supplies etc. Items must be received before July 31st to make the August barge departure. "Contact Us" on the school website for more information (and see attached poster and website link).
Message from Danny Michel - January 10, 2014
Hi everybody! Hope you all had a great holiday and new years. Some dear friends and I rang it in right in sunny Belize where we also popped by the Ocean Academy School with some more scholarship donations and a load of soccer balls. It was wonderful to see the school growing. It was an amazing feeling to see kids graduate and move on AND brand new faces enrolling thanks to YOUR help.
While we didn’t reach the $10k goal by Jan 6th, we did raise $5175.00 and I know of a few donations still waiting to come in. You can still donate! I’m confident we will reach that goal.
All in all $56,425.70 has been raised and lives are being changed because of your generosity and kindness. Thank you.
Ocean Academy Students Eat Fire and Walk on Broken Glass
"Make It Happen", "Do it right the first time" and "Crazy People Succeed" were all messages imparted by motivational speaker Bert Oliva to Ocean Academy students last week. To demonstrate the power of self-confidence and mind over matter, students were invited to eat fire and walk on broken glass. The students did it! They can do anything!
Kyle wins National Youth in Tourism Award
Kyle excels in all of Ocean Academy's aquatic tourism P.E. classes (Physical Education). He is a certified Advanced Scuba Diver, Community Reef Technician, skilled kayaker and avid fly fishing student. Kyle is also a leader in the school's entrepreneurial "Kayak with Purpose" program and takes visitors around the island showing them the seahorse colony, tarpon, mangrove ecosystem and underwater cave entrance. Congratulations Kyle on the National Award.
Welcome Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis: School Counsellor
Ocean Academy is blessed to have one of Belize's most experienced counsellors now working with students and parents on campus Thursdays and Fridays. Mothers and Fathers filled the room for Dr. Lewis's first evening parent workshop: "How to Communicate with your Teenager".
Dr. Lewis was born in Belize City, educated in Belize and US, with a PhD from Alberta, Canada. She is a chartered psychologist, President Emeritus and adjunct professor at the University of Belize. Dr. Lewis's position is funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy Belmopan.
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