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City Year and School Staff Spend MLK Day Beautifying East Central Junior High

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, City Year members, teachers, and school staff took part in an opportunity to beautify East Central Junior High.

“City Year does an annual day of service for MLK Day. It's a day a lot of people take as a day off, but City Year takes it as a day on to serve a school in making it a more welcoming community for their students,” said Tatiana Sanchez, City Year Senior Service Leader for ECJH.

The group spent the entire day painting the school logo, the school’s slogan, inspirational words, and four bathrooms all in bright colors.

“When it is time to return, I think these murals will bring an extra element of joy by adding a pop of color and vibrancy, as well as being a visual reminder of how much the adults in their school care about them,” said ECJH teacher Riley Hazel. “Even though the students can't see the artwork now, when they do return to the building, they will be able to see the hard work we put in to making them feel welcome. Completing projects like this also brings hope to students and educators for a safe return to school someday.”

While the event had many volunteers excited to help out, the school ensured that the number of people in the building was limited to allow people to maintain a safe distance. And, of course, everyone wore their masks.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr [said], ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?’ This day we all took this quote in deeper than usual. We worked together to bring something to the school the students would love alongside being safe due to COVID,” said Tatiana.

This is City Year’s first year partnering with ECJH, as well as Riley’s first year as a full-time teacher. Even in an unusual and challenging year, they are finding ways to connect and build relationships with the school and its students.

“My favorite part of working at ECJH is the powerful sense of community. From the moment I walked through the doors as a student-teacher last year I was treated like a member of the cardinal family,” said Riley. “Adults in the building consistently show that they are willing to go the extra mile for their students and coworkers. It is unmistakable that every person in the building (or Zoom call) is a valued member of the team. Administrators, teachers, support staff, and every single student hold a different but equally valuable place at ECJH, and they know that they are irreplaceable.”