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  Erica Vaughn, 17, of Oak Park, and Belgin Kazkaz, 15,  of Oak Park, paint coffee mugs with color-changing  paint during the CASA Expo April 27.

Erica Vaughn, 17, of Oak Park, and Belgin Kazkaz, 15, of Oak Park, paint coffee mugs with color-changing paint during the CASA Expo April 27.

Photo by Donna Agusti

CASA celebrates 35 years with expo featuring students, guests

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 7, 2019


OAK PARK — In celebration of its 35th anniversary, the Center for Advanced Studies and the Arts, or CASA, held a special expo that featured current students and alumni.

The CASA Expo was held April 27 at the institution on Rosewood Street, which is a consortium school for the Berkley, Clawson, Ferndale, Lamphere, Madison, Oak Park and Pontiac school districts.

The expo featured alumni guest speakers and presentations from current CASA students. There also were open classrooms, an art show and talks with teachers.

The guest speakers included Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, Meadowbrook Elementary School Principal Seth Berg, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Aaron Levin and NPR reporter Paige Pfleger.

Among those giving presentations was senior Justina Bissett, a student from Clawson High School. Bissett’s presentation, which was part of her AP Research class, focused on the most effective way to eliminate plastic bags in southeast Michigan.

Bissett said she conducted research by handing out surveys to see a difference in perspectives on plastic bags from teenagers and adults. She then compared the data to see if the ongoing trends continue and how it would affect the world if teenagers continue their perspectives and habits.

“I kind of talked a little bit about how bacteria and fungi can be used to break down plastic bags and how tariffs could be used to eliminate them or reduce them,” she said. “I just kind of talked a little bit about the importance of teaching youth about how detrimental plastic bags are. So, a combination of those three things would significantly reduce the amount in southeast Michigan.”

Bissett has been attending CASA since her sophomore year. Now on the verge of graduation and attending Oakland University to major in chemistry, the 17-year-old is thankful that she went to the school, as she wanted to grow academically.

“I feel like I’m just a lot more prepared for any research or writing in general that I would have to do in college,” she said.

CASA’s director, Jennifer Grebbie, said the longevity of the school has to do with the self-motivated students who keep coming every year and who look to expand their horizons.

“CASA has a pretty good word-of-mouth reputation in our sending schools,” she said. “Kids often follow older siblings, or they heard about CASA and they really want to be here. It’s a smaller school, it’s a smaller environment — pretty nurturing — and kids almost universally say that they really enjoy meeting and being in class with students from other districts.”