City Year Seattle’s Opening Day Ceremony

Originally from Albuquerque and a graduate of the University of New Mexico, Jonath Ochsankehl is a City Year Seattle/King County corps member serving at Dearborn Park Elementary School. In the post below, Jonath reflects on his first month of service in Seattle and the 2011 Opening Day ceremony.

Jonath Ochsankehl (far right) and fellow Corps Members take time to enjoy their Opening Day Ceremony

On October 7th, 2011, City Year corps members from across the nation celebrated Opening Day. In preparation for the event I found myself hammering out Double-D stomps (a Physical Training move), memorizing the City Year pledge, and constantly being reminded of the reasons why I chose to serve. Initially I was unsure of the purpose of the Opening Day Ceremony, but one of my fellow corps members gave light to its significance when she explained that it was the one day out of ten months where the focus would be on us. It would be a brief couple hours where we would not merely be reminded of, but celebrated for, our commitment to serve– until we were inevitably sent back to our respective schools to spend our time and energy dedicated to making children aware of how amazing they are, how much the world has to offer them, and paving the way for them to succeed.

Corps Members stand at formation before demonstrating Physical Training or "PT"

I stood inside Town Hall that wet, Seattle morning and proudly took the pledge to serve to the best of my ability. While I may not yet know the impact I will have on the children I currently work with, corps member, Jessie Curry inspired all of our service during her address to the corps.

Corps Member Speaker Jessie Curry (far right) with City Year Seattle Staff Members

When Jessie Curry was handed the hammer of service from a member of last year’s corps, she spoke to us about how many of her students at Wing Luke Elementary ask about members of last year’s corps and reminded us that next year we will be “those corps members who made such an impact on the students we serve that we are remembered even over an entire summer and beyond.” While it saddens me to be reminded of my departure from this program so near the start of my service, it also inspires me on those difficult days when I question my abilities as a mentor due to unfocused and challenging students.

City Councilmember Tim Burgess Speaks to the 2011-2012 City Year Seattle Corps

Opening Day reminded me not only of the difference we as a corps will be making in the lives of numerous children, but also of the support we have from the Seattle community. City Year supporters attending Opening Day included National Leadership Sponsors like Comcast and local Seattle sponsors including JP Morgan Chase, NELA,  and Macy’s as well as Seattle City Councilmember, Tim Burgess, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Susan Enfield, Dearborn Park Elementary Principal, Angela Bogan, and local and National City Year Board Members. That morning amidst City Year champions I felt connected to our own brother and sister City Year sites across the world united in a common goal as stated in the City Year pledge:

I pledge…

To serve as a city year member to the very best of my ability,

To honor the rules and expectations of City Year,

To respect my colleagues and the people and communities we serve,

To provide excellent service,

To lead by example and be a role model to children,

To celebrate the diversity of people, ideas and cultures around me,

To serve with an open heart and an open mind,

To be quick to help and slow to judge,

To do my best to make a difference in the lives of others

And to build a stronger community, nation and world for all of us.

Text by Jonath Ochsankehl, City Year Seattle/King County corps member