Today, City Year Baton Rouge graduated our 2013-2014 City Year Baton Rouge corps. We were excited to be joined by Executive Director of Volunteer Louisiana, Judd Jeansonne, Principal Viola Jackson of Capitol Middle School and Mayor Kip Holden to recognize the 64 City Year Baton Rouge corps members who have successfully completed their year of service. Together in partnership with Belaire High, Broadmoor Middle, Capitol Middle, and Merrydale Elementary Schools, Baton Rouge corps members have served more than 108,000 hours in our schools and community. Congratulations!
City Year Baton Rouge is able to do the work we do because of the investment and partnership of our Board of Advisors, Lead Partners: East Baton Rouge Parish School System led by Dr. Bernard Taylor and Volunteer Louisiana, as well as our Team, Site and Program Sponsors: Albemarle Foundation, The Boo Grigsby Foundation, Capital Area United Way, Entergy Louisiana, JPMorgan Chase, New Schools for Baton Rouge, The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, Mayor Holden and the City of Baton Rouge, Capital One and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.
We also want to appreciate BREC for making the celebration a success!
by Manda Wittebort, corps member proudly serving at the JPMorgan Chase Team at Capitol Middle School
As any athlete knows, training isn’t just for your body: your mind makes a difference. And as any adult knows, growing up isn’t just what you experience: your attitude makes a difference. The national nonprofit Girls On The Run recognized this need for young ladies and created a 12-week training program that integrates being active with building up the tools in their “girl-box.” This spring, our girls at Capitol Middle School had their first GOTR team led by a cohort of leaders from City Year, Communities In Schools LSU graduate students. We trained at two weekly practices using positive, girl power oriented activities. On May 10, 2014, we had the grand finale… a citywide GOTR South Louisiana 5K!
Team Capitol joined with the GOTR team at Merrydale Elementary to compete at the race. Coaches, elementary and middle school girls and their running buddies ran, skipped, hopped and dashed to the finish line in under an hour! Pennington Biomedical Research Facility hosted the event, where over 15 teams participated in the Inspiration Village, before the 3.1 mile race and a delicious pancake celebration breakfast. The Inspiration Village was a group of volunteer-run booths set up for the girls to create positive word bananas, glitter and sparkle their hair and where they filled in the phrase “running makes me…” Immediately prior to the race, everyone took part in a jazzy Zumba warm-up and the fearless GOTR staff was introduced. Capitol Middle had three seventh grade girls and three eighth grade girls participate. Two Capitol seventh graders were given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the event. Girls On The Run was such an empowering experience for our girls, who often asked to lead the activities at practice and wanted to call team meetings. They arrived bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 7:30 AM on Saturday morning for the race.
Not only was I blessed to run in the race with my beautiful team, but I had a visit from my mom. As I was signing in, she found her way to a volunteer booth and leapt right in to be a positive influence for the girls. As we crossed the finish line, my student darted to my mom and shouts, “We did it Ms. Manda’s mom, we did it!” I appreciated being part of a team that, instead of breeding competition, bred self-esteem and created an opportunity for the girls to build each other up. I hope our girls take these self-esteem and leadership skills to their peers. I’m proud to contribute to their “girl-box.”
photos by Emma Sullivan, a Team Leader proudly serving on the Albemarle Foundation at Merrydale Elementary School
On Wednesday, our 50 Acts of Greatness students at Merrydale Elementary School planted flowers in our community garden and wrote about how they #makebetterhappen at home, at school, and in their communities.
50 Acts of Greatness is a program that exposes students to topics such as relationship building, trust, responsibility and random acts of kindness. These focus groups are just one more way corps members are able to provide support, guidance and leadership growth to our students. 50 Acts provides corps members to have deeper, real-life conversations with their students. City Year believes in the success of our students, because we know that each one can be great, 50 Acts at a time.
Last night City Year Baton Rouge hosted our annual School House Rock gala presented by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to celebrate our impact and commitment to keep Baton Rouge students in school and on track to succeed. We were privileged to honor the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation for their support of City Year and belief in our 64 AmeriCorps members proudly serving in 4 schools across East Baton Rouge Parish.
Thank you to all of our supporters and champions who joined us, including our City Year Baton Rouge Board of Advisors, our Lead Partners, East Baton Rouge Parish School System led by Dr. Bernard Taylor and Volunteer Louisiana, as well as our Team and Site Sponsors: Albemarle Foundation, The Boo Grigsby Foundation, The Capital Area United Way, Entergy Louisiana, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, New Schools for Baton Rouge, The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation.
We are also grateful for the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor and the East Baton Rouge Parish Public School System and our school partners Belaire High School, Broadmoor Middle School, Capitol Middle School and Merrydale Elementary School.
This night would not have been possible without our dedicated Gala Host Committee:
Bobbi and Lane Grigsby, Honorary Committee Chairs
Beth and Rudy Aguilar
Allison and Ross Barrett
Candy and Robert Be
Leslie and Scott Berg
Dana and Jim Bernhard
Trisha and John Carmouche
Donna and John Fraiche
Deane and Scott Frazier
Ann and John Paul Funes
Shawna and Dan Gardiner
Fran and Buck Gladden
Gwen and Todd Graves
Gwen and Leo Hamilton
Suzanne and David Hamm
Barbara and Brian Haymon
Luisa and Ben Hu
Kathryn and Luke Kissam
Jill and Perry Leslie
Laura and Jared Loftus
Tracey and Ty McMains
Alisa and Michael O’Connor
Laura and Jay Poché
Torie and Richard Preis
Jennifer Eplett Reilly and Sean Reilly
Melissa and Jimmy Sanchez
Tricia and Chuck Sanchez
Catherine and Matt Saurage
Whitney Vann and Robert Schneckenburger
Terrie and Edmund Sterling
Brenda and Tommy Teepell
Erin Monroe Wesley and Mitch Wesley
And finally a big thank you to our 25th Anniversary Sponsors- Bain Capital and Jennifer Eplett Reilly and Sean Reilly and our Presenting Sponsor – Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and our Top of the Class Sponsors: Andreeff Foundation, Lamar Advertising Company, The Lemoine Company, LLC., Raising Cane’s, Reserve Telecommunications and SGS Petroleum Service Corporation.
by Di’Liesha Bryant, corps member proudly serving on the Capital Area United Way Team at Belaire High School
My name is Di’Liesha Bryant, I’m 23 years old and I am from Chipley, Florida, however the last four years of my life was spent at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida studying Health Science with a concentration in Occupation and Wellness.
I have never been the type person to plan ahead in life. I’ve always played things by ear and I often like to call myself a professional procrastinator. When my senior year of college had begun and I had no idea what I wanted to do. Of course my mom and professors encouraged my attendance to graduate school but I knew deep down that I was not ready for that. A couple months into the semester came and my classmates were preparing grad school applications, taking needed standardized tests, and securing their recommendations while I was just trying to figure out my next move.
So one Thursday afternoon I was walking on campus, headed to take a midterm, I notice a lady in loud red jacket passing out pamphlets. When I walked passed her, she asked me if I had a brief second to talk. I was already running late and didn’t want to talk so I told her no, I was headed to take an exam but she just replied “ok, I will walk with you.” So while walking she briefly introduced me to City Year and encouraged me to look on the website. I told her I would just so she could leave me alone.
A couple hours after my midterm I was in the library waiting on a friend, browsing the internet when I look up and the same lady is standing in front of me. She allows herself to have a seat and asks me how my midterms went. After about 5 minutes she has me pull up the city year website on my computer and immediately I knew it was something I might be interested in. I read on the website, “tutor, mentor, role model” and I was already doing all those things. And I have always had that little interest in education.
So I started my application by just putting my name and contact information and not even two hours later I received a call from City Year baton Rouge admissions manager. I thought to myself, wow City Year works fast! While keeping in contact with City Year baton rouge’s admission manager and doing my own research I completed the application and here I am today.
I am very humbled to be a part of this organization. And each day when I walk into school I know I made the right decision. I am always happy to see my students, however that may not always be the same for them. Like when I sit beside them so they won’t fall asleep or make them get off their phone.
Especially, my starfish, the cool guy himself TJ. In the halls you will notice TJ by his big smile and outgoing personality, but in Algebra 1 class you will see the exact opposite. Tim was was not doing well, in fact he was failing. After forming a relationship with him I knew he was better than this. I promised him that if he put forth the effort, I will also and help him get out of this class. I worked with TJ almost every day for the whole last semester. I can proudly say at midyear, TJ had a B in Algebra 1! Today, he is now souring through Algebra 2, playing varsity basketball while holding a part time job.
City Year corps members helps students recognize their own potential and enthusiasm for learning. Each day we motivate, support and fight for our students like TJ, because we see the great in them even when they don’t.