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Corps Member Monday: Leaving our mark on Merrydale Elementary

May 20, 2013

By: Emma Sullivan, Corps Member proudly serving on the Volunteer Louisiana Team at Merrydale Elementary School

Before I begin, I want to appreciate last year’s Merrydale Elementary School team for leaving a strong legacy that we were able to grow from. Not only did they build great relationships with the teachers and staff and set an example of what City Year is, but they started programs and projects that we were able to use as springboards for our own ideas.

As Kate and I have blogged about in the past, our team and our students love recess. It’s a much needed break in the middle of the day to relax, hang out with friends, and just be kids. When I first arrived at Merrydale, I was appalled by its lack of playground equipment, and wondered how the students were supposed to play without a jungle gym or a slide. Now, I see that nothing can stop our students from playing during recess. They play basketball, foursquare, hopscotch, tag, hand-clapping games, dance, and learn how to do cartwheels and flips.

As the year progressed, we recognized that our kids are at their best when they are outside and moving, and we learned to adapt many of our lesson plans for the outdoors. Last year’s team observed the same thing, and painted a United States map, as well as a hopscotch board on the concrete. We watch students use and adore both of their designs every single day. As our final service project at Merrydale, our team added some features that are both fun and educational, and are sure to add some flair to next year’s tutoring sessions! We added another hopscotch (with geometric shapes), a compass, and a life-sized chutes and ladders board.

Despite the unrelenting sun and the million-degree concrete, I found this project to be the perfect final service project at Merrydale this year. I love my team to pieces, and enjoyed spending time with them talking, laughing, and literally leaving our mark on the same concrete on which we spent so many of our beloved recess hours. Sadly, most of us won’t have an opportunity to see our students enjoy the new games. That wasn’t the way it was initially supposed to happen, but I actually think it worked out better this way. Completing this project at the very end of the year is a great reminder that we do not serve for ourselves. We serve for our students, next year’s team, and next year’s students. I hope they like it!md 3

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