Written by Hannah Laub, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation Team at Kenilworth Science and Technology School

February is a difficult month. Even in Louisiana, where the weather is beautiful and Mardi Gras is right around the corner, life as an AmeriCorps member can become challenging this time of year. Students, teachers, and City Year AmeriCorps members alike are a little stressed out, and it has become a challenge to remain motivated.

However, it seems like whenever City Year become most difficult, there is always something to remind us why we do what we do. Many schools have events celebrating Black History Month, and at Kenilworth Science and Technology, the students are at the center of that celebration. Since January, a group of students have been rehearsing together during lunch and after school for the skit that they performed on Friday in front of the whole school.  In this skit, students played the parts of several important figures in African American history, such as Dr. King and Sojourner Truth. I was with this group of students when they first began rehearsing for the skit, and the progress they made in such a short amount of time was enough to spark my motivation again. Just a few weeks ago, some students were too nervous to read allowed in front of a few other students and a couple of faculty members. They were stumbling over words that they read on a script in front of them, and most voices were stuck in a monotone as they got used to their lines. Fast forward three weeks, these same students spoke with confidence in front of 600 of their peers, their lines memorized and showing off their costumes as if they were their own clothes. One student, playing Aretha Franklin, sang in front of everybody without a single shake in her voice, and her perfect execution was inspiring knowing that she had practiced every day at lunch for the past week.

In addition to the skit, there was a runway for students who had natural hair in honor of the Natural Hair Movement. As Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” played in the background, students walked down the center of the gym in pairs and showed off their natural hair. It sounded like every single student in the stands was cheering them on, and it was moving to see students embrace the opportunity to show themselves off and be proud of who they were with so much support from their peers. It was enough to make even the most exhausting time of year feel worth it in the long run.

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