On Tuesday April 4th, the IICS Secondary School enjoyed its first ever Community Challenge Morning. Inspired by the passion of our Community Activity Service (CAS) Coordinator Mr. Duwyn to increase IICS involvement in service work in the local community, students from Grades 7 to Grade 11 were taken off schedule for the morning to work on various projects that would serve our community in some way. To kick-start the day, during the morning assembly  Mr. Duwyn shared his experiences working on service projects in Haiti and Dubai. After that, the Grade 11 students were given the opportunity to promote the work that they have been doing for their various CAS activities.

Following the assembly, students were divided into grade-level groups to get to work on their particular challenges. Grade 7, supported by the IICS Roots & Shoots group from Grade 11, focused on environmental service, and were involved in cleaning the road from Karaagac Koyu to IICS, documenting the biodiversity around the campus, and gardening in the area behind the arts block.

Grade 8’s focus was animal welfare and the students used timber to build toys for the chicken coop, finished constructing dog-houses for the dogs on campus, baked dog treats, and took photographs of the dogs to help us find people to adopt them as pets.

The Grade 9 students were focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis and spent their time painting tote bags that will be delivered to a refugee organization, learning Arabic phrases, designing posters in Arabic, and researching and sharing their knowledge about current conflicts around the world.

Finally, our Grade 10 students were asked to focus on our local community, and were engaged in planning activities that would allow our students to get to know our local staff despite the language barrier, help our students learn Turkish, improve respect for our bus monitors, and other things that will help bridge the gaps in our community. Grade 11 students spent their time continuing their work on their CAS projects or helping out with one of the other grade levels. At the end of the morning, students regrouped to reflect on their progress and to plan further activities for the future.

The aim of the day was to ‘get involved’ in some way. The term ‘service’ can include researching world issues, advocating for particular causes, indirectly providing resources to help a community meet its needs, or directly helping others through action. All of these aspects of service were evident throughout the morning and our students responded in a very positive way. It is important for us to continue to look for ways to get ‘out of the bubble’ of our campus and our lives in gated communities. The benefits that our students will gain from such work are very clear. Involvement in such activities and experiences can be the most powerful way for our students to develop the organization, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills that we continue to emphasize. Hopefully we can continue to create such opportunities and help our students become valuable members of both their local and global communities.


‘I was pleasantly surprised by the activities. I wasn’t expecting much, but I ended up enjoying some of the stuff we did. I think I was much more into the creative projects like the bags, rather than the research projects. More of the creative projects could improve these kinds of events in future in my opinion.’

‘I thought that it was very interesting and cool to do something different and learn the different types of plants we have around our school.’

‘The community day was a day that made me realize more about the people who I’m surrounded with. Each group brainstorming an idea and setting a goal helped all of us to think deeper and realize more about the people that help our school community in a day to day basis.’

‘I learned a lot from this experience.’

‘It was a good idea taking time off schedule to focus on this topic only! This way it was clear for students to see how important and valuable the topic is.’

‘I was glad to see Grade 11s having the chance to lead the younger students.’

‘Grades 7 – 9 had an active day; Grade 10 got a valuable peek into the CAS requirements for next year. That’s a great step in the right direction!’

‘The activities were practical and useful.’