Giving the Perfect Gift

By: Sally Allen, Director of Marketing & Development

December is a time of giving.  During this season of giving, we all rush around trying to find the perfect item for that special person.  We scour online sites and stores hoping to find just the right thing.  But this season is about more than material gifts.  Gifts can come in all forms.  The gift of time, talent, service, or financial support can make a major impact.

Gifts of time and service can be given in a variety of places. You could volunteer with a local food pantry, shelter, church, civic organization or school.  Volunteering not only provides a service for the recipient, but also provides a sense of satisfaction, connection and love for the volunteer.  When you find the right fit for you or your family, you will find a world of opportunities await you!

The gift of talent is a special one.  Can you sing? Dance? Play a musical instrument?  Offer the gift of art?  Can you share your knowledge or expertise on a topic in a class or to a group?  Can you read to young students or read with students who need an extra boost?  Gifts of talent are truly special and something that will make a major impact on those you share it with.

The gift of financial support is a personal one.  For our family, we discuss what areas or organizations are important to us.  Financial gifts don’t have to be large to make an impact.  Non-profit organizations need gifts large and small and make a lasting impression.  When choosing where and what to give, find an organization you believe in and one who has a mission you want to support.  Many organizations will allow you to make general gifts or gifts toward particular projects within their campaign.

We all enjoy giving and receiving gifts, but this holiday  season, I encourage to you look at the variety of ways you can give.  Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Summer Months…What to do?

By: Sally Allen, Director of Marketing & Development

School is almost over! Summer is almost here! “No more classes, no more books…” and nothing but sleep and gaming to keep students entertained after that first week of “freedom.” What’s a parent to do?  There are many opportunities for kids to be busy and happy during the summer break without sacrificing the parents’ sanity.

Community Service: Students of middle and high school age can benefit from spending part of their summer involved in community service.  Hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are usually delighted to have young people young people volunteer their services at any time. Teens can serve as aides in hospitals at information desks and gift shops.  Students of all ages are welcomed by senior living facilities to read, play games, do hair and nails, or just hang out with the residents. Participants of both age groups benefit immensely from this interaction.

Classes:  Some high school students may be eligible to take college classes during the summer term after their junior year. Most of these classes are only four to five weeks in length and offer the chance to experience the college/university scene without plunging into full time scheduling.

Camps:  Nearly every student organization (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, churches, etc.) offers summer camps.  Those camping experiences offer students the opportunity to meet new friends, pursue current or new interests, and to escape the boredom of being at home. Clarksville Academy offers a variety of summer camps for all ages.  Check the CA web site for details.

Summer jobs:  Whether it is babysitting, mowing yards, pet sitting, or any other task, a summer job offers teens an opportunity to learn and earn. Jobs teach respect, time management, responsibility, and interpersonal skills while providing a chance for earn their own spending money (a help to both students and parents!).

Sports:  There are sports teams and camps for a variety of sports, both team and individual.  If your student is not interested in an athletic team, perhaps lessons in a life-long individual sport such as golf, tennis, or swimming would spark an interest that could follow him or her throughout life.

Travel:  If a long summer vacation is not on this year’s calendar, consider a day trip.  There are many interesting and fun places within a day’s drive from Clarksville that offer fun, education and experience.  From Civil War battlefields to historic places to museums and amusement parks, there is a destination, and a price, for every family. Find some great day trips here: or

Finding a summer activity for students may require some effort, but the benefits are great. Students must be actively engaged in some activity to help them maintain learning practices for the school year. Different activities may spark an interest that will aid students in school and beyond.

Whatever you choose, enjoy summer’s laid back season.

Serving Others

By: Lisa Little, Key Club Sponsor

My first eyewitness experience of community service was at my great-grandmother Rosa Anderson’s home in Tennessee Ridge. Tennessee Ridge is a small community found on the outskirts of the town of Erin. As a child, I looked forward to riding the ferry across the Cumberland River that created the county line between Stewart and Houston counties. She was a tall, slender built woman with red hair that was always in a long braid down the middle of her back. She loved to cook, garden, quilt, crochet, and raise chickens. Often times during our summertime visits, she would take me to the garden to help her collect the bounty provided by the rich, red clay soil. She also liked for me to help her collect eggs from her brooding hens. I wasn’t always fond of this task as I had been pecked several times while attempting to retrieve the eggs. After our outside adventures, Granny Anderson, as we fondly called her, would lay the vegetables and fruits out in cardboard box lids that lined the floor of the enclosed back porch of her home. This room also had boxes stacked in every nook and cranny containing mason jars filled with canned vegetables, jellies, and jams. Locals would stop by to purchase fresh and preserved items or eggs. Though she lived on a fixed income, she charged very little for the items she sold. More than once, I walked with her to nearby homes to deliver boxes fresh fruit and veggies, as a gesture of neighborly love. She would give her handmade baby sweater sets or quilts to friends or church members. She would take some of her earnings to the local hardware store to purchase supplies for her crocheting and quilting. She collected used clothing to make quilts. She was resourceful, talented, and a beloved member of her community.

My great-grandmother passed away over 30 years ago. She is one of many members of my family that have what I call a heart of service. I began my own journey of service by joining Key Club as a freshmen student at Northwest High School. Through my family’s examples and my 4 year involvement in Key Club, I learned how to serve others in various ways and found it brought a great feeling of joy to my soul. In 2001, I was a founding faculty member of Rossview High School. During the assigning teaching and sponsor responsibilities by administration, I was granted the opportunity to establish a chapter of Key Club. It was truly a moment that came full circle. It was now my turn to give students the joyful experience of helping your fellow man.

Four years ago, I became a member of the Clarksville Academy faculty and again was blessed by becoming the Key Club Advisor. In the past four years, club member have earned over 10,000 hours of service. Through the leadership of club officers, these students have served many local organizations and charities. They have collected Jeans for Teens, food items for Manna Cafe, winter clothing for The Well, and children’s toys for Vanderbilt’s Ronald McDonald House. Additionally, they have painted Halloween pumpkins and created non-skid socks for local nursing home residents. Some students spent time tutoring classmates or middle school students during study hall. Others have volunteered to work at school events. A most recent service project involved creating PLARN from plastic grocery bags to make sleeping mats for the homeless.

Their reach has even extended to the needs of our four-legged friends. Two years ago the club collected pet food. This year, they decided to recycle their own t-shirts into dog toys. These students are full of enthusiasm and creative ideas of how to grow CA Key Club’s service to others. They never cease to amaze me; I learn from them at each meeting and event. Most of their ideas don’t involve spending money, but looking for ways to invest their personal time or how to recycle items as a useful product to others. I could go on for days about all that this wonderful group of students has done. Each one inspires me to be a better person, to help make their visions a reality, and to guide them in developing their own hearts of service. Two things that I hope I will continue through my lifetime are to never stop learning and to never stop giving of the talents afforded me.


Dominican Republic Days 5-8

Danny Magrans, Spanish Teacher


“Laugh, Think and Cry”

The final days of our trip passed so quickly. Each day was filled with tremendous excursions which included a tour of Santo Domingo’s historical district, the Museum of Resistance, a visit to Christopher’s Columbus’ tomb, and finally a tour of the Chocolate Museum. We learned so many valuable lessons about the Dominican Republic’s past and present social climate. We were able to compare and contrast the similarities and differences of our culture to theirs. We were able to walk the streets where many defining moments were decided. Moments that probably molded our world. As exciting as these excursions were, I wondered if perhaps there would be another opportunity for us to capture. One more opportunity to serve.  

The last dinner we shared was at a restaurant called Adrian Tropical. The menu was exciting and filled with so many delicious options. Included in the menu were options for traditional dishes as well as dishes that some of my students were missing from home…..cheeseburgers and fries. The desserts were amazing. The natural fruit juices even better. 

At first I worried about the amount of time it would take to serve our group. There were 26 of us and only 1 of them. Unfair odds if you ask me. I wondered if our waitress would be able to handle these odds. While she did receive some help, it wasn’t nearly enough. Towards the end of our two hour meal I paused long enough to sit with some students and ask the waitress some questions. I wanted to get a feel for what it was like to be a part of the working class and young in the DR. I wanted the students who were around me to listen to her responses. Here is what we learned. 

The waitress is 21 years old and lives in a single bedroom apartment with her sister who is also a waitress. The rest of her family lives in a village outside of Santo Domingo. She is currently attending a public university where she hopes to become an administrator for the hotel industry. Tourism is huge in the DR and so this makes sense. Attending a public university in the DR is relatively inexpensive but not the living expenses nor the books. The rest of the information she offered is worth sharing. When asked about her work schedule and payment structure this is what she said. She works 77 hours per week and on occasions gets a Saturday off. She earns a monthly salary of 200 dollars. While I do not pretend to be a math wizard I believe this means she earns 65 cents per hour. One may claim that the cost of living is much cheaper in the DR. Perhaps they’re right in some ways but certainly not in all.

I often reflect on my ability to capture the moments that matter most. I’m sure I am like most….too busy to notice if its happening or not. Like a baseball player who at the plate fails more than he succeeds I wondered if the moment we were given to talk to this waitress was an opportunity for us to hit a grand slam. Should I swing or simply watch the opportunity go by? I decided to swing and this is what happened next. I rallied my students for a simple presentation of our waitress’ reality. I asked them to tip a little more than what we normally gave which is a dollar per meal per person. After collecting all the tip money I presented the waitress with 165.00. As expected she was speechless. While she was barely able to mutter a thank you her tears spoke to our hearts. 

At this point I felt certain we had completed our purpose. Jim Valvano stated in his last ESPY speech, “There are three things we should do everyday….Laugh, Think and Cry. If we can do all three then we know we lived a full day.” Mission accomplished for the Dominican Republic Crew. 

“Whether for a reason, season, or lifetime we are placed in each others’ lives to serve a purpose.” I hope we served our’s well. 

Begin Your Journey.