Creativity Activity Service (CAS)

The CAS program emphasizes experiential learning in the creative arts, physical activity, and community service. Juniors and seniors learn by becoming involved in tasks that have real consequences and reflecting on these experiences over time. The goal of the program is to consistently involve students in their communities in order to encourage lifelong learning and active citizenship.

The three strands of CAS:

      Creativity: arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
      Activity: physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing and balancing academic work.
      Service: an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student.  The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.


CAS is about:

Becoming a reflective thinker, understanding your own strengths and limitations, identifying goals and devising strategies for personal growth.  It requires a willingness to accept new challenges and new roles.   It fosters an awareness of self as a member of various communities, with responsibilities to others and to the environment.  Students become active participants in sustained, collaborative projects and learn the art of balance – enjoying and finding significance in a range of activities involving intellectual, physical, creative and emotional experiences.

What is CAS?

CAS is the “active” component of the student’s education outside of the classroom, combining aesthetic, athletic, creative and service-minded activities. It is at the heart of the Diploma Program and, by extension, at the heart of Desert Academy’s mission and educational philosophy. It is one of the three essential elements in every IB Diploma Program student’s experience and is a required element of the school curriculum for all students in 11th and 12th grades. Because CAS reflects Desert’s values as well as IB values, it is a graduation requirement for all Desert Academy students. CAS enables the student to enhance his or her personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning. At the same time, it provides an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the rest of our academic programs. Any experience that involves the attainment of new skills or knowledge, or demonstrates the growth or extension of skills or knowledge already attained can be considered a CAS experience. A good CAS experience should be both challenging and enjoyable, a personal journey of self-discovery.

How does CAS work?

With guidance and support from their advisors and the CAS Coordinator, students choose, plan and implement a range of experiences for themselves, including a collaborative project which is of significant duration.  CAS experiences demonstrate personal growth and should be balanced between the three components of Creativity, Activity, and Service. Students are required to show sustained, authentic engagement in CAS experiences over an 18-month period, beginning in September of their junior year.  The emphasis is on regular involvement and authenticity of reflections, rather than on the number of experiences or hours of involvement.   Advisors, with support from the CAS coordinator, supervise student progress, project/activity reflection, and documentation. Students  document their CAS experiences by creating and regularly updating a CAS “Portfolio” with descriptions, evidence, and reflections about their experiences.

Collaborative action is expected as part of a student’s CAS experience, and students must plan, document, and complete one collaborative project of significant duration.  Students are encouraged to seek involvement in projects that provide opportunities to engage with issues of global importance.

CAS Examples

Carmen Chamorro: Online Magazine: Welcome to Santa Fe

Lily Nathanson: PC Podcasts on Soundcloud: Blog: The Teenage Condition: