The Red Jacket Ceremony
By Victoria Cummings, serving on the TriMix Foundation Team at Pleasant View Elementary School
This past Friday was Opening Day for City Year Providence. One of the first events to take place was the Red Jacket Ceremony. Corps members have been at their respective schools for the past two weeks and everyone was excited to be back as a whole corps. The Red Jacket Ceremony provided us with a chance to reflect on what it means to wear the City Year jacket. The Red Jacket is a powerful symbol of our commitment to serve a cause greater than self. Corps members were asked to dedicate this year of service to someone or something that is personally meaningful.
One by one, corps members boldly declared who they were dedicating their jackets to and why. After each person dedicated their jacket the person preceding them helped them to put it on. This created a chain and highlighted that we are all connected. Some corps members dedicated their jackets to family members: parents, grandparents, or siblings. Other corps members dedicated their jackets to teachers who inspired them. Some of the Senior AmeriCorps members dedicated their jackets to the students they worked with last year.
One dedication that particularly touched me was Anansa Benbow’s. She dedicated her jacket to “Black and Brown lives who have been lost and didn’t have a first day of school” because she feels that “it is our responsibility to speak their names and carry on their legacy”. This dedication was so passionate that another corps member stepped up to finish reading it.
The ceremony was beautiful and full of emotions. The true essence of family was present. It didn’t feel like I’ve only known this group of people for five weeks. In a few short weeks we have all become family.
A Reflection on Opening Day 2015
By Bethany Reppert, serving on the TriMix Foundation Team at Pleasant View Elementary School
On September 11, 2015, the incoming City Year Providence corps stood proudly in City Hall, ready to pledge ourselves to a year of service. Before taking the official pledge, we heard words of encouragement from leaders in the community.
What resonated with me weren’t the good lucks and best wishes, but the statistics about the dropout crisis, the desperate need for education funding, and other obstacles Providence students face every day. During Basic Training Academy and the first week of school, it's been easy to forget how hard the next few months will be. Hearing Mayor Elorza speak to us candidly about the city's children really put the value of serving a cause greater than self into perspective.
Fortunately there is a group of young idealists ready to support Providence students, according to the Mayor. The introduction of new City Year corps members in Providence represents a fresh start for the schools we serve and their students. The jackets, pressed khakis, and black belts might be the same from year to year, but we as a corps pledge to bring Providence fresh ideas and a new spirit of motivation. The Opening Day ceremony on September 11th not only marked the opening of the 2015-2016 school year, but the opening of our hearts and minds to a new year of service.
To see more photos from Opening Day 2015, click here!