By Rebecca Leclerc, senior AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team at Trotter Innovation School
Arms thrown over shoulders, teams huddling together, speeches about having each other’s backs—to the average person this probably sounds like a before-game ritual with athletes huddled together on the field or taking a knee surrounding their coach. To a City Year AmeriCorps member it might bring to mind their Red Jacket Dedication ceremony, which, this year, took place on Friday, September 19.
Our Aramark red jackets represent many different things to our students and communities. For a student who is eating alone, it might mean someone kind to talk to in the cafeteria; to an already busy teacher, it might mean someone to ask to tutor a new transfer student who hasn't read the book the rest of the class is reading; to a parent it might represent the people, who, over the course of their child's schooling have invited them to pot lucks, open houses, and family game nights. But these red jackets often mean carry a deeper meaning to the individuals wearing them.
Each year, City Year AmeriCorps members are given the opportunity to stand in front of the entire corps, with their teams by their sides, and dedicate their jackets to a person or thing that is meaningful to them. This dedication helps AmeriCorps members focus on the reason they serve with City Year and is the touchstone they can return to when faced with challenges. It is a ceremony filled with many emotions, but always ends with the joy of having your team by your side and the entire corps cheering for you.
This year I dedicated my jackets to the students of D Pod at the Trotter Innovation School in Dorchester. These are the students I served last year, and they are the reason I continued on to serve a second year. When the days are long and the snow is falling, I know I will still show up to service each and every day because I’m wearing my red jacket for my students—they always deserve my best. Our red jackets remain important to our communities because each year we are given the opportunity to give them our own individual meanings.