It would be cool to have a Danny Michel Star Trek school bus...but since Caye Caulker has no cars or paved streets it's still all cruiser bikes and golf carts for us on the island. What we do have in common though, is the amazing technology projects that Ocean Academy students have created this school year. And they have been winning national and international awards!
The OA SEaTIDE is our Ocean Academy Centre for Social Enterprise, Technology, Innovation, Development and Education.
Students won first place in North America and the Caribbean for their business plan entry to the School Enterprise Challenge. 1250 schools from 83 countries participated. Ocean Academy's business idea is called Fish with Purpose. Students plan to rent rods to visitors and share their fishing knowledge about the island's best spots. Profits support student school fees,pocket money and the school scholarship fund. Other social enterprises at Ocean Academy are Kayak, Bike and Dinner with Purpose, as well as our culinary herb sales.
To celebrate Women's Month, Ocean Academy organized a Technology for Women and Girls workshop event. Participants learned about Coding, Graphic Design software, 3-D Sketch Up Architectual Design and even ROV underwater robotics. A group of students is now experimenting with building their own ROV, with the guidance of three girls in the competitive Atlantis ROV Team from Whidbey Island, USA who are mentoring Ocean Academy's group.
Last week, professors and students from Georgia State University returned to Ocean Academy with their drones and ArcGIS software technology,and our students contributed to the ongoing marine debris mapping project.
Students are really excited about mobile apps. Earlier this year, they won "Most Innovation and Creative Project" in a national S.T.E.M. science fair, for creating a prototype of a mobile app that would track mangrove restoration planting projects. Last month, a team of students ages 13-17 won the Belize High School Innovation Challenge with their mobile app called "Hire Belize". The competition challenged students to come up with solutions to high youth unemployment. Hire Belize is moving from protoype to reality now, and contains youth profile pages with their skills or products for sale, so that potential employers or buyers can easily find and hire young people, and provide testimonialsas part of the vetting process.
Development and Education
Students learned a hands-on lesson, literally, about citizenship and voicing one's opinions when they joined hands with tour guides, tourists, community members and Village Council members to form a line of protest against off-shore oil drilling proposals in Belize. The event was organized by Oceana in centres nationwide and called "Hands Across the Sand".
Interact Club members from Westlock, Alberta raised funds for our third-floor classroom construction project, and came down to work alongside Ocean Academy students. Both groups of teens enjoyed the evening friendship activities and cultural exchanges. One day we hope to organize a south-north exchange!
Graduation is on June 12th and the Scholarship Awards are on June 13th. If you would like to contribute to the Danny Michel and Fans Scholarship Fund, now is the perfect time. Even without Danny's Space Van, your donations and support continue to motivate our students to.....go boldly where no one has gone before!
Students and teachers were very excited to surprise Danny with a birthday cake, balloons and sushi on his birthday visit to our campus last month. Sushi?! Yes. For Danny's birthday a group of girls made him a plate of sushi that an island restaurant owner taught them to prepare (we also had cake, cookies and juice). Sushi-making is just one of many unique opportunities offered to Ocean Academy students.
Students are preparing to interview top-notch experts from around the world to learn what it takes to succeed in various careers. Of course, when it comes to a successful career in the music industry we turned immediately to Danny Michel. Ocean Academy students are currently working on music and lyrics to share with Danny in a skype call, for feedback and ongoing mentorship.
Students are also completing internships in Hospitality and Tourism Skills at Il Pellicano Cucina Italiana, Marine Biology with the Belize Fisheries Department, Engineering and Architecture software use with Wallace Engineering in Oklahoma, Electrical work with Cutty's Electrical and Humane Education with Sandy's Dog Grooming. The goal is for students to explore a variety of interests and career choices while in high school, and gain real-world skills and experiences.
Westlock helps with Classroom Construction
Ocean Academy will be growing very soon. Our feeder elementary school has double classes of students starting with this year's graduating class of grade 8's all the way down to kindergarden. In anticipation, we have started work on building another classroom upstairs. High school Interact Club students from Westlock, Alberta have done a tremendous job fundraising to help us with this project and they will be coming to volunteer with construction work next month.
If you would like to get involved, or learn more information, click "contact us" on our school website or leave a comment on the school Face Book page where we regularly post photos and updates.
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”.
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