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!


Veterans Day

DUTY, Honor, Country on Veterans Day
By: Retired Col Sal Herrera

It is great to be part of a Clarksville community that is so supportive of our Military and Veterans.  After my 25-year Army career (now retired for 3 years), it is humbling to reflect on not only the continued courageous service of our Active Duty Military but also on all Veterans, as well as my career.  Long story short: I spent approximately 18 years of my service here at Fort Campbell, KY as part of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. I sure did learn A LOT along the way…but looking back it was my beginnings that really shaped my life and my military career. In 1987 I entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.  USMA has a structure of three words that embraces their ideals…Duty, Honor, Country.  These ideals create the foundation for all future Army Officers to lean on.  I wanted to spend a little time elaborating on DUTY.  What is it?
When I was a Plebe (Freshman Cadet) we had menial tasks which included delivering the NY Times to every upper classman’s door in the barracks …every single day. When it was your turn you had to “ping” against the walls and march briskly like a robot to each door with your pile of newspapers.  As you can imagine on Sunday mornings the newspapers were thick and heavy, and most upperclassmen slept in!  So while delivering early morning newspapers, it was sooooo tempting to just stroll in the middle of the hallway at my leisure to deliver those newspapers and forgo the craziness of marching against the walls. But as one Firstie (Senior Cadet) described, “Duty is doing the right thing even when no one is looking…like delivering Sunday newspapers!”  Those wise words continue to resonate with me today as I work and live my life.

Another way I look at DUTY is as an acrostic:

Do!  – Do the right thing!  Take action and do…but just do right!!
Unite! – Be one with your team by uniting!  Your team could be your school, your family, your job or all of the above, but work to unite (not divide)!
Trust! – Be trustworthy and dependable, but more importantly trust others!  Start by giving people the benefit of the doubt!
You! – Be yourself!  Don’t be afraid to be you! Each of us bring so many different perspectives and these disparate viewpoints can be powerful….even invincible!
Duty is definitely delivering the newspapers correctly, but it also can be life changing…it was for me!
Lastly, I want to thank all our Veterans for their service; and I want to give a special thanks to our military supportive community of Clarksville and specifically Clarksville Academy.
I encourage you to view the inspirational address General Douglas MacArthur presented to the cadets of the USMA on 12 May 1962 – Titled “Duty Honor Country” click here:

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.


Civic Responsibility Abroad

By: Danny Magrans, World Language Department Chair

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi. 

The ability to teach a World Language comes with tremendous responsibilities and amazing rewards. The world is so big and the need to make global connections are more apparent than ever before. To develop fluency in a target language should be the goal for all who teach a second language, but so should developing life long learners of all the beauty that surrounds us. Especially when we serve. 

So far my students and I have been honored to travel to Costa Rica, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. Each of these trips were built to tour the countries, speak the language, engage in and create cultural experiences and most importantly serve. I am so proud of the work we have completed and trust that greater opportunities are in the horizon. No matter what the mission, the end results have been consistently the same; those who give are usually the recipients of the greater gift. I agree with Gandhi’s statement, in order to understand who we are… we should commit ourselves to the service of others. 

“There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.” Woodrow Wilson

Many ask me why do we serve? Doesn’t it take a tremendous responsibility to organize a trip, and prepare students for the experiences? In short….yes it does. A lot of work is put in to prepare and while on the trip, but to be perfectly honest I can’t imagine living without serving. I can’t imagine teaching without motivating as many students as I can to make a difference and reach as many hearts as possible. While it may sound cliche, we all have beautiful gifts that others need to see. To not share our gifts would be to deny the One who gave them to us. It would also be to deny the opportunity to grow from the magnificent differences that exist all around us. Our goal should be to gain understanding and reach conclusions based on experiences earned. This works best for me and my students when we are able to roll up our sleeves and dig, paint, build, supply, buy, laugh, play, and share a meal with those we serve. Over the course of  the last few years, we have dug a water line in Costa Rica, worked alongside locals to build and supply a girls school, and volunteered with the Dream Organization in the Dominican Republic, to name just a few. Two worlds divided by such great distance but yet so similarly bonded by a common theme, LOVE.

“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Many years ago I was asked the question, “What do you teach?” For some reason it just forced me to think more profoundly.  I said, “I teach life and use Spanish as my catalyst.” I really meant my response.

So why do we serve others while traveling abroad? Because we are blessed with the gifts to extend to others. I strongly believe most students long to make a difference in this world. As a result I will continue try to extend the opportunities to all who are willing and able to go. I am forever grateful for those who have taken this walk with 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.