By: Tommy G. Meade Jr. 

This is the first time Champion Middle School has partnered with City Year. Here’s what I observed and learned during last Wednesday’s Opening Day.

I think all of us have experienced something that we will never forget. For me, this year’s Opening Day at Champion Middle School is one of those things.

Maybe because it was a lot of hard work. Maybe because CYCO is always ready for a challenge. But, in the end, the best thing to see was the big smiles on the faces of the Champion Tigers. Serving this year at the middle school has been great so far, and not only is City Year’s mission important to me and my fellow corps members, it is also more relevant now more than ever. That’s why I decided to join City Year and to #makebetterhappen by being a success model to students who look like me – and most importantly, to give back to our underfunded and under resourced communities.

I think it’s important that we leave things better than we found it. At City Year, we call this “campfiring.” This lesson, among others, is one of many I have learned so far at City Year.

Hard work pays off

Some people want everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. But, as the great Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one, which is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” Lots of us probably have heard this over and over again. Be responsible. Manage your time. Do your work.

There’s no difference here at City year.

During Opening Day at Champion Middle School in Columbus, Ohio, I was, as expected, highly motivated to begin the new school year. Corps members arrived for opening circle at 6:50 am. The festivities for Opening Day started promptly at 8:00 am, and teachers, staff, students and community members arrived in flocks to see their children and former students begin the latest academic year at Champion. It was a beautiful and partly cloudy day. We even had the opportunity to take some selfies with Ronald McDonald, who came to help us celebrate the day’s events.

Managing our time over the last few weeks has been tough. And I must admit, there have already been a couple times I have asked myself this is something I’m really cut out for. But at City Year, the hard work pays off. Seeing a smile on my student’s face and having a growth mindset makes that more than evident.

Teamwork makes the dream work

When you need help, no matter how big or small, a fellow corps member will always be there for you, if you ask.

In the process of preparing for Opening Day, corps members were the shoulder to lean on when waking up in the wee hours in the morning for training and service seemed difficult. They’re also the ones that continue to push me to get up and be great at everything I do because of the bond we’ve built in just a short amount of time. 

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