Written by Lindsay Hall, AmeriCorps member serving on the Albemarle Foundation Team at Merrydale Elementary School, and Justyce Pierre, AmeriCorps member serving on the Lamar Advertising Company Team at Celerity Crestworth Charter School.

Most people associate spring break with days of unplanned fun and relaxation, a break from school and work. Here at City Year Baton Rouge, we do spring break differently. This year, we spent the week in service together. The idea of getting up early and putting in the usual hours does not match up with most people’s vision of a vacation. Halfway through the last semester of service, a full week of idling away a few hours in beautiful Baton Rouge weather might sound like a far better way recharge. However, spring break service was exactly what was needed: some quality time together as a corps.

The week opened with beautification projects at two of our partner schools, Celerity Crestworth Charter School and Broadmoor Middle School. We worked in teams to tackle the tasks of painting, weeding, cleaning, and redecorating classrooms. Even without our students, we were able to continue to serve in schools and make their learning environments a little more inviting. Since we spend most of our time with our school teams, it was encouraging to see how much the corps has learned and grown since the beginning of the year.

At Celerity Crestworth, our newest school partnership, CYBR focused on the library. The main goal for improving the library was to make the space more useful, providing the students more books and sorting the books that were already present. We were even able to make removable reading nooks for the students! The outside areas—basketball court and lawn—were beautified and the students now have hopscotch, four square, and a clean court to play basketball. We also were able to create a “Seussville” themed intervention space for AmeriCorps Members to do pull outs, as well as, a VIP room that takes students down the yellow brick road to reward the ones that exhibit good behavior and passing grades. Each Celerity AmeriCorps Member was able to use their strengths and passion for student success to construct detailed plans/themes for their respective area and manage a group of AmeriCorps Members on the day of service.

There was plenty of time for some of that fun and relaxation too. Teambuilding activities and competitions restored some of the classic City Year Baton Rouge atmosphere from early training in 2015. AmeriCorps members also led sessions that reflected their own interests and talents, so everyone was able to enjoy activities ranging from art to Zumba. To top it all off, community groups provided much appreciated food, drinks, and treats in a demonstration of solidarity and appreciation for efforts of CYBR.

As the school year starts to wind down, we all have to find our last reserves of energy to give the best of ourselves to our students. Spending spring break in service, together, was a memorable way to prepare for the last stretch of our City Year journey.

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