Written by Lydia Dubois, corps member serving on the Capital Area United Way Team at Capitol Middle School. 

I believe it is important to wake up each day with a purpose. It’s 6:45 am, and I’m standing in the center of Capitol Middle School, in a circle with all of my teammates. Our lives’ unpredictability, individual personalities and beliefs (and possible lack of sleep) do not deter us from arriving on time with the eagerness, energy, and guidance needed to support the students and teachers we serve.

Although City Year officially began on July 20, 2015, I believe that our service begins anew each day. Morning Circle, a favorite City Year ritual of mine, provides each team with the opportunity to gather, reflect, and to have a fresh start together. As teams circle up in their respective schools to open the morning, the ritual begins with the leader of that day’s Morning Circle stating, “Today is [insert date and day of the week here] and we have all lived to serve another day.” The rest of the team responds with, “and that’s a beautiful thing!” This simple acknowledgement of human existence embodies one of the most important values of City Year: beyond its logo, its handbook, its rules, and its jackets, City Year would not exist without its people. The likeminded idealists, energetic young people, current and former students who value the power of education are City Year’s backbone, its glue, and its reason for existence. The Morning Circle reminds us of the individual’s strength: We all come together to form a strong group, as each day we state and recognize our power in proving to younger students the value of showing up: During Morning Greeting, you can catch us cheering on the kids with, “Hey! It’s you! You’re here! That’s great!”

Another part of Morning Circle is Readiness Check, where all corps members point to each part of their City Year uniform, and their “can-do attitude,” their mind, their smile, and their soul. Each item checked off the list is followed by a word, a synonym, in a way, for “ready!” Each day a Corps Member chooses a word for Readiness Check. It could be simple, like “Tacos!” on Tuesday, or “Excellence,” the theme of the year for Corps Members serving at Capitol Middle. 

I decided to ask a few Corps Members what their favorite readiness words were, and, if they couldn’t decide, how they felt about Morning Circle in general. Are you ready? Here are the responses:


Hometown: Lindsay, California
Spirit Animal: Koala
CYBR School: Merrydale Elementary School

Morning Circle brings us together before we start the day! I really enjoy “joys and ripples” because they help us focus on the positive and how our day is going to go. You can turn a bad situation around because you can focus on a positive outcome. You’re not in control of your situation but you are in control of how you react to it.

There’s this board where we circle and it has a bunch of emotion words like happy, excited, positive, creative, so I usually choose from there when I am really stuck. However my word always has to do with positivity. Positivity sets the tone for how our day is going to go. If we went our separate ways instead of doing Morning Circle we wouldn’t know as much about each other and we wouldn’t feel like a strong team. 


Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Spirit Animal: White Tiger
CYBR School: Broadmoor Middle School

I know I would not wake up without first circle. It is really the energizer. We have to be there before 6:30, and it’s a real pick-me-up for my day. It gets me excited and pumped about the day. My Readiness Check word can really be anything, anything random, the first word that pops into my head. It’s usually something goofy, like pizza! I love the Readiness Check, especially, the “soul” part. 


Hometown: New York, New York
Spirit Animal: Gorilla
CYBR School: Claiborne Elementary School

I think Morning Circle puts us all on the same page and gets us pumped for what is to come. We know that we all start at the same time and we’re doing the same thing. It puts your mindset into what you’re here to do for the day, it is a routine thing, and you know what to expect each time. My chosen word for Readiness Check would be laughter! If the whole corps got together for “bring it in for a break” and I had to choose the word I’d say “see you tomorrow!”


Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Spirit Animal: Monkey
CYBR School: Broadmoor Middle School

Morning Circle puts us all on the same page and it gives us a place to discuss our current situations in school. Without Morning Circle, we wouldn’t have whole-team communication. City Year rituals make the day more exciting. My Readiness Check word would be “sunny!” 

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