De La Salle Collegiate’s twelve Class of 2017 International Baccalaureate (IB) students, along with four IB teachers, traveled to Montana in May 2016 for a week of service and science.
A component of the IB program is Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS). Mr. Brad Cusumano, the IB CAS Coordinator for DLS, organized the trip into two components: a service piece with the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, MT., followed by a science project at Glacier National Park.
During the stay in Blackfeet Nation, the IB students lived in a small bunkhouse while serving at De La Salle Blackfeet Indian Reservation. They prepared their own meals, along with IB Coordinator Mrs. Stephanie Howay, Biology teacher Mrs. Jackie Van Thomme, Chemistry teacher Mr. Rob Black, and Mr. Cusumano.
DLS students spent two and a half days at De La Salle Blackfeet, a Lasallian school established in 2001 by the Midwest District of the Christian Brothers. Blackfeet is co-ed, and has about 70 students in grades 4-8. It is one of 11 “San Miguel” schools, which serve predominantly at-risk populations. These schools are not tuition-driven, depending on service and philanthropy, have extended school days, and have small class sizes. Blackfeet serves a remote region on an Indian reservation bordered by Canada to the north, and Glacier National Park to the west.
Mr. Cusumano said, “This was an unbelievable and emotional experience for our young men. Our students tutored, and assisted the teachers in facilitating homework assignments and quizzes. Most importantly, they were able to build lasting relationships with these students.”
The DLS group then headed to Glacier National Park to complete the IB science project. The boys surveyed loons and connected data, simultaneously assisting the National Park service in their tracking of loons. The students also took part in the National Park Services “BioBlitz” during which they examined specific types of insects in Lake Bowman, assisting the Park service in its comparisons of nutrient-rich lakes vs. nutrient-poor lakes.
Eight of the 19 juniors (Class of 2018) in the IB program headed to Montana and the Blackfeet community September 11, and then to Glacier National Park to collect data for the National Park Service, similar to the May 2016 experience of the current seniors.
The remaining ten juniors will be in the New Orleans area April 2-8, 2017 to work on the St. Bernard Project. A non-profit organization established in March 2006 to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the St. Bernard Project is located in St. Bernard Parish in southeast Louisiana.
“We are very fortunate and blessed to be able to provide and have these life-changing experiences for our young men,” said Mr. Cusumano.