By AJ Topps, AmeriCorps Member, Lincoln Financial and TJX Companies Supported Team, 
Serving at Gossler Park Elementary School

Here at City Year, we have a very strong culture of valuing leadership, community service, and big citizenship. We try to pass these values down to our students through our in school service, and especially through our Starfish Corps program. The Starfish Corps is an after-school program, which seeks to develop our students into young leaders. Through the five unit curriculum (Basic Training Academy, Peace in Our Community, Needs and Wants, Our Environment, and Healthy Choices) we explore the building blocks of community and leadership. Each unit is accompanied by an event or service project that heightens the students’ understanding of the topic at hand. For example, the “Our Environment” unit coincides with Global Youth Service Day.  Global Youth Service Day is an annual event that gathers young people in conducting community service, service learning, and other events to benefit their communities, the nation, and the world.

The Starfish Corps had their Opening Day Ceremony on Tuesday, January 13. It was a great event that showed the students’ commitment to the values of Starfish Corps, which bear a striking resemblance to those of City Year. Students started the ceremony by performing Physical Training (PT). Then students watched as Corps Member Dereion Stalling serving on the Gossler Park Team supported by the Lincoln Financial Foundation and the TJX Companies, spoke about the goals and mission of this year’s Starfish Corps. Afterward, was the culminating section, where each student presented his or her Leadership Statement. The event was the first step of many in the Starfish Corps Members channeling the values of Starfish Corps. 

The Starfish Corps derives its name from one of City Year’s founding stories, titled The Starfish Story. The story can be found here: http://www.cityyear.org/about-us/culture-values/founding-stories/starfish-story


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