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No Grades, No Glory

October 4, 2012

By Laura Boles, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Belaire High School

I have attended and worked at a camp for the past fifteen years of my life. I am all about getting dressed up in particular colors that indicate support of a specific team. I have a library of cheers stored permanently in my brain that I can use for just about any situation that requires loud yelling.

My love for face painting and call-and-responses has always been at odds with the schools I attended. My high school was so small that we didn’t have enough players to make our own teams for sports like football and swimming, but instead entered a “cooperative agreement” with a larger high school so that students could play on that school’s teams. Even though the university I went to had some thirty-three thousand more students than my high school, I didn’t see an increase in school spirit.

And then I joined City Year, where starting the day off with cheers is the norm. And I started working at Belaire High School, whose school colors, orange and blue, just happen to be the same as those of my camp. I literally whooped when I discovered I had packed my orange and blue sunglasses after all, instead of leaving them at home to collect dust.

School spirit is a particularly tricky subject because it is so often equated with supporting athletics in place of supporting academics. But I don’t think the two need to be mutually exclusive. School spirit, when we apply the goals of City Year, is about learning what motivates at-risk students and using those motivations as tools to improve attendance, behavior, and course performance. If I can motivate a student to come to school every single day by attending his or her games, I will be in the stands for as many sporting events as I can. If I can motivate a different student to complete his or her homework by allowing a five-minute drawing period at the beginning of our tutoring session, I will make sure I always have colored pencils in my backpack.

Last Friday night, many City Year Corps Members went out to cheer on our football team at Belaire’s homecoming game, sporting bright orange shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “No grades, no glory!” For the past two months, we have also cheered on our students in the classrooms, sporting bright red vests emblazoned with the City Year logo. And we have committed to continue supporting these students for the next eight months and beyond, whether we are helping them work through a fractions worksheet in the City Year classroom or toughing it out in the rain to cheer them on at sporting events.

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