This week, senior corps members reflect on their induction into City Year. As a site, City Year Boston celebrated Opening Day on October 15. For senior corps members, this day held a unique significance as their second formal start to a year of full-time service. Below, Tom Krueger, Team Leader serving at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School, shares his experience preparing for this day.
On October 15, 2011, the 2011-2012 City Year Boston corps celebrated its Opening Day with a full day of powerful physical service at the English High School in Jamaica Plain. I love Opening Day because it sends a message to the City of Boston that our corps members are ready to give the next year to change our city. However, one of the most remarkable things about the day is the preparation that goes into such a huge physical service event.
“[Opening Day] sends a message to the City of Boston that our corps members are ready to give the next year to change our city.”
This year, once again, we are so lucky to have a fantastic John W. Henry Family Foundation/ Foundation to Be Named Later Boston Civic Engagement (BCE) Team that focuses on physically transforming our schools and the community. This team spends their time planning, organizing, and executing service days. They engage corporate sponsors, community volunteers, our students, and the entire corps in their service throughout the year.
During the week leading up to October 15, after my regular service in school, I had the opportunity to serve alongside the BCE Team, helping them with the immense amount of prep work that goes into Opening Day. We traced murals, taped and tarped work areas, and primed walls with fresh paint.
I know that I will never forget the late nights we spent at English High preparing for Opening Day. I will fondly remember putting tape around every single railing and step in a stairwell that contained six flights of stairs. How could I forget that? And I will certainly remember battling the rain in the dark the night before Opening Day as I traced giant letters onto the school’s bleachers to spell out “ENGLISH,” rigging a tarp between two ladders to protect the projector I was using from the rain.
At the time, the work seemed endless, but it was necessary to set our corps members and volunteers up for success on the big day. It is easy to draw a parallel between this prep work and the affect physical service has on our schools. The main purpose of our service is to transform schools in every way, and that begins with how the school looks. Improving students’ physical environment builds a foundation for their academic success.
And in the end, I knew all of the hard work was worth it, because Opening Day was a huge success. We set our volunteers and corps members up for success, and now the students and the City Year team serving at the English High School have a great foundation upon which to powerfully transform the attendance, behavior, and academics at the school throughout the upcoming year.