City Year Does Amazing Work at Hampton Academy

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Guest Shot By Christina Hamilton

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 11, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Some pretty amazing things have been happening around Hampton Academy this year, thanks to a group of extremely committed and dedicated service members from New Hampshire's City Year.

The six members who make up the Hampton Academy team, led by team leader Brittney Cross, committed a year of their service to Hampton Academy with a mission to create positive, enriching, and engaging experiences for adolescents. The program is sponsored on a national level by AmeriCorps and on a local level by a coalition of Hampton citizens and businesses.

Now in its third year at Hampton Academy, City Year provides academic, athletic, and social opportunities for students while encouraging students to explore their interests, give back to the community, and take a proactive approach to making a difference in the world.

Anyone who walks the halls of Hampton Academy will easily see touches of City Year's involvement and impact on the students. An over-sized calendar packed with fun-filled events graces a wall in the cafeteria. Fliers advertising intermural sports and after school programs are displayed throughout the school for all students to see. Corps members can be found in classrooms, working one-on-one or with groups of students to assist in academic and unified arts classes. Morning and afternoon announcements encourage students to participate in fund-raisers and upcoming events.

During February break, the Corps members planned and instituted a week-long camp for any students interested in participating in a week of sports, crafts, games and friendships. Though their days and weeks are jam-packed with service learning and projects, City Year Corps members often volunteer what little personal time they have to chaperone field trips and school dances -- yet another example of their commitment to the students at Hampton Academy.

In City Year's After the Bell Program, corps members encourage the students to learn about the world, address important current events, and design service-based projects based on their interests. Students recently brainstormed the idea of making blankets for children stricken with illnesses -- a project planned to take place during the month of March. City Year also created a program called GEM -- Girls Empowered and Motivated -- to provide a positive network for female adolescents in Hampton Academy.

Everyone is welcome at City Year programs. Along with commitment and service, the organization advocates and promotes tolerance and equality. Many students look forward to After the Bell when they will spend time with the friends made in the hours after school. Students who may have at one time gone home to empty houses now have a safe, positive environment after school where they can receive support in academics and take part in constructive activities.

It is an extraordinary thing to witness adolescents who are energized and excited to make a difference. This year, City Year has provided an abundance of opportunities in which Hampton Academy students may act on their willingness and desire to put a positive stamp on the world. The lessons and experiences students gain this year through City Year will help create their paths for years to come. Through service, commitment, dedication, professionalism and positive role-modeling, the 2007-08 Hampton Academy City Year team has instilled within many adolescents the knowledge and skills to create productive and fulfilled lives.

The positive impact felt by these students can never be erased or taken away -- it will simply become a part of these students, who will then pass their own positive energy along to others. City Year, therefore, does not impact just one grade or one year, but a lifetime. The movement extends beyond the immediate task, aiming to better the lives of others on national and even global levels, acknowledging that investing in children is, and always will be, the best investment.

Christina Hamilton is an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Hampton Academy.
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