“Ohana”: Our Basic Family


“I’ll be your candle on the water, this flame inside of me will grow.” These are the first few words of “Candle on the Water” by Helen Reddy, a song that is part of a decades-old tradition in the Basic workshop. The song captures the essence of Basic: the beauty, the friendship, and the passionate fire that burns within every Basic delegate. 

Basic is a leadership workshop that develops teamwork, communication, and problem solving skills through a variety of activities. The workshop lasts for a week in both June and July, allowing students who cannot attend one session to attend the other. This year, 6 sophomores and 1 senior from Student Council attended Basic. The team consisted of Pari Gulati (‘24), Milin Kumar (‘24), John Hughes (‘24), Audrey Haynes (‘24), Anh Thu Nguyen (‘24), Eddy Kang (‘24), and Jonah Craine (‘22). Basic 2021 was held at Northwestern Oklahoma State University located in Alva, Oklahoma, 2 and a half hours away from Casady. 250 students from all around the state were divided into 12 “councils”, each one made up of students from different schools. Additionally, each council had a JC, or junior counselor, as well as an advisor. Council members worked together for 6 days, developing their leadership skills, forming lasting bonds, and changing each others’ lives for the better. 


During Basic, we were faced with several obstacles that challenged our ability to work together as a group. Almost all of us were total strangers to each other, which pushed me out of my comfort zone to interact with people that I wasn’t familiar with. After doing icebreakers and establishing friendships, we encountered our first challenge, reaching consensus. Each council was given a hypothetical situation, consisting of a backstory for a high school that would become the face of every council. We were tasked with coming up with colors, a mascot, a song, a chant, and a skit that pertained to our assigned backstory. Initially, most of us thought that the process to reach a consensus would be relatively easy, but we were proven very wrong. For example, it took my council 40 minutes to decide whether to use “maroon” or “crimson” as our color! In the end, we decided on “dark red”, and the entire process revealed to me that reaching consensus with many people from completely different backgrounds is not an easy task, and it requires each person to yield their own opinions and consider the group over themselves. Additionally, I observed first-hand that when different people with different strengths come together, they can create something beautiful.

Although from what I’ve described so far, Basic may just seem like tedious work, it is so much more than that. We participated in so many fun activities, including dancing, competition, and wipeout. We would do Jazzercise and chants every morning, some of which we brought to Casady, such as “Peel Banana” and “P-A-R-T-Y”. Special sessions taught us how to encourage school spirit and pride through games like musical chairs and balloon pop. 

The most memorable moment by far was the last night, where we exchanged handwritten notes and meaningful words about each other. The tears began streaming down our faces as we talked about how we had changed each other’s lives over the 6 days, shaping and influencing each other to become better people. The lights in the gym turned off and each council got in a huddle, holding blue glow sticks to represent how every student was a light in each other’s lives. When Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” started playing, I cried harder than I think I ever have. I made lifelong friends at Basic that molded and continue to mold me into a better version of myself. Council 3 forever changed my life and they will always be my Ohana!


The leadership skills gained at BASIC will forever be remembered by myself, and I’m sure by my other friends as well. As we made our way through the first day with our new council (Council 8 rules!), each member was tasked with creating a mascot, name, and color for their new school, as mentioned above. We soon found out that consensus and the art of compromise and agreement are key to cooperation with others. Where some groups took about two or three hours to reach consensus, my council took not even an hour to establish our name, color, and mascot. The level of cooperation and agreement between the members of my council was astounding to witness, and the fact that the concept of mutual agreement still exists makes me feel good about the future. 

While not establishing the intricacies of our different schools and councils, everyone at BASIC became a family and a sense of community was very apparent throughout the week. Singing, dancing, laughing, and playing served as integral parts of the BASIC experience. The BASIC Shuffle to the beat of “Low” by T Pain and the Footloose line dance played regularly during the mosh pits and the dance parties. Four breakout sessions also taught each delegate to establish new traditions at school by giving us ideas for fun pep rallies and philanthropy weeks. One game in particular that I firmly believe would be hilarious for a pep rally included a person standing in the middle of the room, with a team of other people running to the person and smashing a balloon against them. Since I was the person in the middle, it was very fun seeing people run up to me for us to smash the balloon. 

We all grew so much during BASIC, and even though I was very anxious about staying in Alva for a week, the whole experience was worth it. I had never met so many people at once, from all over Oklahoma. Tulsa, Bixby, Texhoma, Broken Bow, Norman, Moore, Del City, Duncan, Lawton are just some of the towns from where many of my new friends from BASIC reside. The BASIC “magic” continued into the State Convention this past November. Reunions and new connections were all included in the experience, along with many more chances to grow closer to my own sophomore StuCo members. Had none of us gone to BASIC, I truly believe that this year would have been much different.