Seahawks Pride: Jessica

Although the Super Bowl has come and gone, Seattle fans still have a lot of team spirit. Highland Park Elementary showed their support before the game, but the students still have great memories of this historic game.

City Year Timberland boot featuring Seattle skyline at the pep rally.

City Year Timberland boot featuring Seattle skyline at the pep rally.

In the midst of all of Seattle’s Hawk craziness, Highland Park Elementary gathered their students together for an end of the week pep rally. This event consisted of adorable performances by especially spirited students. Our personal Highland Park cheer squad got everyone “FIRED UP” with chants and even an impeccably executed lift. Another student unicycled around the whole gym waving the twelfth man flag – tall and proud.

Students cheer on as the 12th Man Flag goes by.

Students cheer on as the 12th Man Flag goes by.


Staff got in on the fun with “SEA what?! Seahawks” cheer. While we were technically cheering for the Hawks to win, we were really cheering for our kids to win. This pep rally was just another moment to bring our students together, to create a school environment with support and unity.
Corps members Tobias and Nahid stand in front of the Seahawks banner.

Corps members Tobias and Nahid stand in front of the Seahawks banner.


In hindsight it is obvious that the Highland Park pep rally directly influenced the Seahawks winning the 48th Super Bowl (not missing a snap on the first play). But even with the season over Highland Park and its staff will be cheering for their students through the rest of the year.

Highland Park MUSTANGS! NEEEEHHHHYYYYYYYYYY

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Spring Break Academy with City Year!

The Supah Ninjas, City Year Style!

Instead of sleeping in until noon every day or lounging around a Seattle beach, a group of elementary students at Roxhill Elementary School chose to continue their learning with City Year Seattle corps members during their spring break. Corps members, sensitive to the fact that it was spring break, creatively taught math, English and writing, and science through a series of fun games and workshops. Students practiced math with pizza fractions, wrote stories, and participated in science games such as an epic Fantastic Voyage to learn the different organs in the body.

Excited for Pizza Problems
Speaking of epic, every day there was a kickball game at recess. City Year program manager Dawn Jackowski – a woman who is generally all business – even joined in the fun. Students also participated in team building workshops, playing games to strengthen relationships with their corps members.

City Year Corps Member and Student

The games were often set to live piano music, compliments of a certain unusually handsome corps member who just happens to be writing this blog post. For the end of the week, corps members planned a Measurement of Student Progress (or MSP) test prep scavenger hunt, with practice problems that students can expect to see on their MSP standardized test. As a grand finale, corps members planned a party that included cupcakes, cookies, candy and dancing to celebrate their week of learning.

View our slideshow for more photos of an amazing, fun-filled week!

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Text by Will Smith, City Year Seattle/King County corps member at the JPMorgan Chase Whole School, Whole Child Team at Roxhill Elementary School
Photos by Dawn Jackowski, City Year Seattle/King County Program Manager at Roxhill Elementary School and Asa Mercer Middle School

Around the World with City Year

Creating Continents with City Year

In Seattle, Starfish Corps is a City Year led after-school program at Dearborn Park Elementary, Roxhill Elementary and Wing Luke Elementary. Starfish promotes big citizenship and teaches lessons around concepts such as community service, promoting peace and healthy living. City Year Seattle also holds two overnight retreats each year for the Starfish Corps to allow students from different areas of Seattle to interact, as well as form even stronger bonds with their City Year mentors and tutors.

For an entire month, third grade student Alina* asked my team at Roxhill Elementary every day, several times a day, when the next Starfish retreat would take place.

On Friday, March 25th, Alina’s wait finally came to an end. Approximately 60 elementary school students from three City Year Seattle schools arrived at 7:00 p.m. to attend the “Around the World” Starfish retreat. After a snack provided by PCC Natural Markets in Admiral Way, the students created passports complete with name, date of birth, school, and a picture ID taken via instant film. These passports were their tickets to traveling the world with their City Year mentors.

Kids Learn from City Year

The next day, students were sleepy after a night spent in the school cafeteria and gym but they soon perked up after breakfast. Before the students could depart for their world travels, they received pilot wing pins, a gift from Alaska Airlines, and designed their own imaginary continents. Then City Year corps members took students for a trip around the world as they taught students how to salsa dance in South America, throw boomerangs in Australia, compete in soccer competitions in South Africa, play Bump It in China, and Pass the Parcel in England.

City Year and Tat's Delicatessen

Enjoying sandwiches from Tat's Delicatessen!

Tat’s Delicatessen, which has supported several City Year retreats, provided our young and hungry travelers with turkey, roast beef, ham and vegetarian sandwiches while Giannoni’s Pizza provided the adult volunteers with pizza. An impromptu dance party marked the conclusion of the retreat, and students ran around saying good-bye to new friends before leaving.

On Monday, I asked Alina what she thought of the retreat. Her eyes widened and she said, “It was awesome! We got to play games! The food was so good and we had recess! I like how we did the crafts and stuff and I liked how we made the passports and I liked the movie. And I liked meeting the other kids and playing around with my friends and meeting and playing with the other City Years!”

The only problem is . . . now she’s started asking about the next Starfish Retreat.

Text by Will Smith, City Year Seattle/King County corps member at the JPMorgan Chase Whole School, Whole Child Team at Roxhill Elementary School

Ripples of Hope: Celebrating City Year’s Impact

Thank You City Year

City Year corps members make a huge impact upon the lives of students and sometimes, they thank us in especially unique and heartfelt ways. In this picture, a student wrote down everything he learned from their City Year corps members in the shape of a City Year logo.

On April 27th at 5:30 p.m., City Year Seattle will hold its annual gala event, “Ripples of Hope.” Our goal is to raise approximately one-third of our annual budget so that corps members can continue mentoring and tutoring students like Esperanza, Jayne, and Haytham as they go on to graduate from high school.

Here’s a look at our Ripples of Hope sponsors, with a special thank you to T-Mobile as our Ripples of Hope presenting sponsor.

To all of our sponsors: thank you for your gifts to City Year Seattle! You help make our work possible.

Register for Ripples of Hope today to support City Year Seattle and our community. We hope to see you there.

Attendance and Behavior Rally at Aki Kurose Middle School

Dan Do before the Pie

Corps member Dan Do prepares to be pie'd by a student!

Recently, the T-Mobile Diplomas Now Team at Aki Kurose Middle School hosted their first ever Attendance and Behavior Rally. The entire student body entered the school gymnasium during the last period of the day as music blasted over the PA system. Some students walked in not knowing what to expect while others danced their way to their seats.

Once the school filled the gym, corps member Sean Morrin took the microphone and greeted the crowd with, “Welcome Aki students! Can you make some NOISE?” The gym absolutely erupted with cheers. The rally continued with the warm up “Shout If,” as students were encouraged to shout if they would answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:

Shout if you want to be rich when you grow up!

Shout if you want to go to college!

The kids were practically bouncing out of the bleachers by the time Sean asked the last question:

“Shout if you would tear up a million dollar winning lottery ticket!”

Around twenty students were tricked and they shouted, but their friends were quick to correct them. The shift in the crowd was tangible and when Sean repeated the question, half of the school was shouting “No! I would not do that!” Sean paused and explained,

“Each and every one of you is sitting on a winning lottery ticket. All you have to do is show up for school every day and do what we all know we have to do to be successful to cash it in. Every day that you do not show up to school, it’s like you are slowly tearing that winning ticket into smaller and smaller pieces. So who wants to cash in their winning lottery tickets?”

It was clear that his message had made an impact. But that was only the introduction.

For the next part of the rally, ten volunteers from each grade level were chosen to participate in a relay race against the other grades. Enthusiastic volunteers lined up for a race across the gym, one student at a time – but with a catch. Each grade level had a different challenge to complete on the far side of the gym before returning to the other:

  • Eighth graders were challenged to ten consecutive jump-rope turns
  • Seventh graders were challenged to do head spins on a baseball bat
  • Sixth graders were challenged to only five jumping jacks

The sixth graders shone as winners, with all ten sixth graders finishing while the seventh and eighth grade were still on their fifth and sixth runners.

After the race was over, Sean asked, “Now, who thought that race was fair?” To no one’s surprise, the seventh and eighth grade did not, but the race was rigged for a specific reason. Sean explained, “Missing school is an unnecessary barrier to learning, and every day you miss makes it tougher on yourself.” In that moment, everything became evident – and the gym suddenly became silent.

In a moment school faculty and staff recalled for weeks afterward, the entire middle school student body quietly reflected on what attendance means to their academic success. To end the event on a positive note, students were drawn at random from a box where students drop their Behavior Bucks—an affirmative behavior management system corps members have developed this year—for the chance to throw a whipped cream-covered paper plate in the face of their favorite City Year corps member. The pies were a splash, and midway through the activity the entire crowd was chanting the names of corps members they hoped to see pie’d next.

Megan after Pie

Corps member Megan Hugel after being pie'd!

The rally was a blast for all who were involved and a clear example of the Aki Kurose City Year team’s dedication, creativity, and overall impressiveness in their service. Extra credit for the event goes to Ed Brown and Chris Wodicka for designing the rally and to Sean Morrin for masterfully facilitating it. The rest of the Aki Kurose team, as always, gave their full support and their willingness to help… and of course get pie’d!

Text by Nick Hernandez, City Year Seattle/King County Team Leader of the T-Mobile Diplomas Now Team at Aki Kurose Middle School