by Hope Hill
I am right where I need to be.
When I walked down the hallway leading into our downtown headquarters and was Power Greeted for the first time. I almost turned around and ran away. Here there were strangers, chanting that I was here and it was great. It was terrifying. That terror gave way to curiosity and I marched on. That was almost 9 and a half months ago and like a baby, City Year has become a huge part of my life.
It’s more than doing silent applause in public and freaking out the people around me. It’s not just seeing a kid act out at the movie theaters and think, “That kid could use a walk and talk”. This is the kind of experience that stays with you even after closing circle.
Last night, our talent show was cancelled because it was rumored that folks were going to come with guns. This was a huge blow not only to my team who worked diligently to put the event together but to our students who have amazing gifts and who were looking forward to sharing them with the community. One of them is my focus list student.
She had written a rap in dedication to the young man we lost earlier this year to gun violence. At practice I got to hear her open the show with her piece and I could do nothing but beam with pride. This is the same student who months earlier wrote me a note calling me every name in the book and describing how much she hated me. This is the same student who just a week earlier got in trouble for knocking over a desk when a boy in our class wouldn’t stop talking while she was trying to get caught up in math. This is the same student who just a day earlier stayed after school to finish her capstone project on gun violence in the community and what we can do to stop it.
She is my student, just one of my students who is trying to do something good. However, forces beyond my control keep trying to stop her progress. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to be the person that lets her know that things are going to be alright. I’m in her corner slapping the hardest and cheering the loudest when she knocks everyone’s socks off when our event ends up being rescheduled. I’m the person who wears the boots and the jacket and says, “I will be here for you, no matter what”. I’m here for my Panthers, I will be for as long as it takes.