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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

IB Ideals Manifest in Community on Day of Service

Smiling%2C+Lena+Boas+25+and+Valentina+Galeana+Ruiz+24+fold+a+fitted+sheet+while+Isabella+DAlessandro+25+folds+a+towel.+At+Casa+Marianella%2C+volunteers+were+tasked+with+organizing+a+linen+closet.+Being+able+to+work+with+others+in+my+specified+group+helped+me+more+productive%2C+Galeana+Ruiz+said.+
Shivani Kondubhatla
Smiling, Lena Boas ’25 and Valentina Galeana Ruiz ’24 fold a fitted sheet while Isabella D’Alessandro ’25 folds a towel. At Casa Marianella, volunteers were tasked with organizing a linen closet. “Being able to work with others in my specified group helped me more productive,” Galeana Ruiz said.

Bolstering program ideals through service, International Baccalaureate (IB) juniors and seniors gathered around the Austin area on Saturday, Jan. 20, to take part in the IB Day of Service — a requirement for the Creativity Activity Service (CAS) component of the IB Diploma. 

Students chose from a range of activities, from assembling teacher goody bags to cooking for the Charlie Center, a community hub that serves the homeless. Most popular were the park clean-ups, which had students stationed on campus and around six local parks, gloves and trash bags in tow, to help tidy the community.  

“At the very end of the event, when we saw everyone’s collected trash bags and how big [they were], that left an impact on me,” Aryan Bandi ‘25, who helped clean up Brushy Creek Lake Park, said.  “Seeing we made that difference and that the park [was] so clean, especially because there [are] some things we don’t want kids to be around [like] vape pens, was very fulfilling.”

Community remained integral in service initiatives, as students worked together to complete each opportunity. 

“I was cooking brownies for the Charlie Center with one of my friends,” Jayant Bettapdur ‘25 said. “It was fun because we just did it at his house and then we dropped them off the next day.” 

For some, volunteering offered an education past service. At Casa Marianella, a shelter that provides food, housing, and support to asylum seekers and immigrants, students organized linens and were able to observe the impact of their work firsthand. 

“It’s very easy to forget people are real, and not just a number and a statistic,” Valentina Galeana Ruiz ‘24 said. “The people who seek asylum and are refugees have stories, and they took big journeys to get here. I think it was really eye-opening to hear those stories and meet [those] people.”

Connecting IB core curricula to contributions, students exemplified IB learner profile traits, characteristics that involve helping both their own communities and the world around them. 

“In the sense of being knowledgeable and open-minded, learning about other people’s stories and understanding them definitely connect [to IB traits],” Galeana Ruiz said.  “I think a big foundation of being educated and having opinions about things is understanding where people come from and what is real, instead of just learning about statistics. [This experience] definitely opened my mind.”

Service work also forged classroom connections that were more personal in nature. In the cafeteria, students came together to make care kits for the homeless, goody bags for IB teachers, and cards for service members and the Confetti Foundation — a nonprofit that provides boxed birthdays for hospitalized children. 

“Our teachers put a lot of effort into teaching us IB content and grading a lot of papers and work,” Benjamin Yu ‘24, who volunteered to put goody bags together, said. “So I feel that giving back a small little something in return exemplifies the trait of caring.”

To accommodate the variety of opportunities, student leaders stepped in. IB Student Organization (IBSO) officers led each activity, checking students in and out, coordinating supplies, and overseeing their service groups. 

 “We had three officers [on] campus, so we went around the campus together once and then separated into different groups,” IBSO Officer Rochela Sjariffudin ‘24, who helped facilitate the campus clean-up said. “One officer led each group. One group went across the street to go to the park [and] one group did the parking lot.”

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About the Contributors
Shreya Selvaraju, Horizon Editor-In-Chief
Class of 2024 Beyond an ardent adoration of the written word, I enjoy being a part of Student Press due to how my role invariably enables me to remain acutely engaged with my community — facilitating the ability to garner a multimodal understanding of those around me. Supplementing my passion for writing, my interests skew toward art, film, and literature. When I'm not in the newsroom, you can find me hunching over tables in pursuit of the perfect food photo, meticulously curating playlists, and adding to an ever-expanding sticker collection. 
Shivani Kondubhatla, A&E Editor
Class of 2025  Feeding my ardent love for both the arts and journalism, I am beyond enthused to take on the role of the Arts & Entertainment editor to represent the fine arts and pop culture not only at Westwood but also in our buzzing community. Outside of the newsroom, I am most likely cherishing time with friends, watching sit-coms (probably Modern Family!), or sustaining my unhealthy coffee addiction. 

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