Real Talk With Miss Christine


By: Christine Olding

A few weeks ago I started doing this lunch group on Thursdays with six, 6th grade girls. It was supposed to be a chance for them to talk about a variety of topics that they didn’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone else (health issues to boyfriends and everything in between). I was unsure exactly how it would go over because let’s just say I was not the favorite person among the 6th grade girls.

When I first started this experience I was known by many of the students as the “mean” one due to my strict disciplinarian structure. However, in the past few months I have begun to develop relationships with these girls in ways I, honestly, never thought imaginable. I get hugs and jokes on a daily basis and am constantly asked questions about my love life (something I find pretty hysterical). So, when I was asked to do this group, I was excited and nervous on what exactly would happen given our rocky road.

The group is set up like this: they go grab their lunch and come to a classroom where I am awaiting their arrival. During our first meeting we came up with 10 topics that would be discussed. Each week we talk about a different topic. I present the topic of the week and open the floor each time stating that it is a safe space and whatever is said between these walls will never leave these walls. I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability and hope for the best.

I was amazed by the girls willingness to share and ask questions that I knew were hard for them to discuss. They are 100% open to what I have to say and what each other have to say. It is my chance to show them a different perspective on the issues that plague them. It is my chance to say” hey, I remember being in the 6th grade and I remember how much it sucked at times. So, here are some things to help you get through it.” Each week, I make a point to let them know that each of them is important, beautiful, smart and loved. (Something I know that they rarely hear). It is my hope that they will truly listen to those words and believe them because all I want for them is to believe in themselves and each other, like how I believe in each one of them.

AmeriCorps Spotlight, Children’s Hunger Alliance


By Christine Olding

In honor of AmeriCorps week, I decided to fill everyone in on an AmeriCorps program that not only helps our organization but helps thousands of people in the state of Ohio on a daily basis. That organization being, Children’s Hunger Alliance ( CHA); a non-profit organization that works with youth services, after-school programs , childcare facilities and faith-based organizations to provide healthy meals to children in need.

At Hamilton STEM Academy we work with CHA on a daily basis. They provide meals for our after-school programs. The meals are delivered to us each day before our programs start. They always contain a fruit or vegetable, grain, meat and dairy product to ensure that our students get their daily dosage of the food pyramid. In order for an organization to obtain and keep the free meals that they receive they must follow several very important rules. The organization requesting the free meals must go to a training session that gives that organization all of the information necessary to run their meal program successfully. The organization must give the names, birthdates, genders, and allergies of all participating children to CHA. They must make sure that all of the eating areas are clean and every child receives each part of their meal. An organization must have a copy of their menu on display during their after-school program at all times. They do check-ins three times a year to make sure that your program is following the rules set out by CHA.

Children’s Hunger Alliance began in 1970 and now serves every single county in Ohio. Not only do they provide free meals to thousands of Ohio children, they also provide education on healthy eating habits and physical activity. They have several AmeriCorps members that provide that information to the parents and children that they serve.  Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is an AmeriCorps program run through CHA that provides full-time support in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Akron, and Cincinnati. They spend roughly half of their time providing education concerning the topics of healthy choices and physical activity and the other half on providing insight to expand the capacity of Children’s Hunger Alliance.

Despite the fact that I am serving as a City Year volunteer it is a necessity for myself and others to realize that we cannot do it alone. Rarely can any AmeriCorps program reach their goals and expectations on its own. It needs the help from the surrounding communities, citizens and businesses alike. In our case, we have the ability to work hand-in-hand with another AmeriCorps funded program that allows each of us to help reach our goals, expectations and children that we serve.

Linden McKinley Talent Show


The excitement is bouncing off the walls of our new school. The whispers of children practicing their acts while they pretend to work on in-class assignments. The proud statements of the school as they welcome us with open arms to create a positive view of the school. The encouraging cheers from classmates as the students admit they are performing in our Talent Show.

This is an event you cannot miss.

On Thursday, February 9th at 6 pm, Linden-McKinley STEM Academy located on 1320 Duxberry Ave, Columbus, OH, 43211.  We will be hosting a Talent Show showcasing our 7th, 8th and 9th graders. Lights to decorations, ushers to stage crew, judges to emcees to singers, dancers, and actors, the kids are huge part of everything. Our event will also be showcasing a bit of talent from our Corps. The event will be held in the Cafeteria of the high school.

We hope you are able to join us!

Make A Difference


By: Roosevelt Williams

Every morning I wake up anticipating that it will be a good day

Still pondering on what could have been and the choices I have made yesterday

Asking myself “Did I make a difference?”

Looking at my clock, its 6:43, and time to hit the street

I-71 north which leads me to my destination

Home of the Linden- McKinley STEM Academy Panthers

Where the students look like me, with a different outlook on reality

See there reality is “GET IT OR GET GOT”

Crack babies, empty stomachs and no food in the fridge

Some kids don’t even know who their real parent is

But……..I look like them

Red vest, Khakis and Timbs will I make difference to at least one of these kids

So I lace my boots up, tuck my shirt in and put a smile on my face

Leading the best way I can

All I get is a stale face, fights, cursing and boredom

Still I tutor, mentor hoping to learn, lead and transform

But my starfish story just got written up on a peak form

Well, there goes my day

Nothing but second guesses and questions

I sleep at night and do it all again….

So every morning I wake up anticipating that it will be a good day

Still pondering on what could have been and the choices I have made yesterday

Asking myself “Did I make a difference?”

When I get approached by a student that says

“Hey Mr. Roosevelt, Thank you!”

Penny Harvest, It Just Makes Cents!


By: Christine Olding

Each week I write about differing stories of how City Year is impacting the students we serve, but how do the students we serve impact their communities? This week, I am going to explore the Penny Harvest, a way for our students to raise money for local, state, and national charities through their own philanthropic endeavors.

Penny Harvest was founded in 1991 as a way to show children that they too can make a difference. Since 1991, $8.1 million in grants have been awarded to various community organizations, all from pennies. This opportunity allows the children to do something that they are often not given the chance to do: make a difference. It allows our students to contribute to things that they view as important. Each classroom votes on a differing cause or organization that will get their pennies.  Penny Harvest allows the students in each classroom to have a common goal that they must collaborate on to make come true.

Penny Harvest was first introduced to me by the student council at Hamilton. During morning announcements a few weeks ago, the students got on over the intercom and did a skit introducing the idea to the rest of the student body. Within their three to five minute skit they hit the main goal of the idea: to raise money for charities…with pennies. They then came around to each classroom handing out small colorful paper bags and burlap sack.  Upon first hearing about that they would be raising money solely with pennies; I was a little taken back and thought to myself, “how are pennies ever going to make a difference?”  I know this is a rather pessimistic outlook for a young idealist like me; however, sometimes you have to look at things for what they are. Though, I thought the idea might not be the most effective in the entire world, I was still interested to see how the students would react to this challenge.

I quickly began to realize that my previous thoughts on the matter were seriously mistaken. Each day I would watch in amazement as the students in my classrooms would march in carrying as many pennies as their paper bags could handle. They would get a small reward of a sticker each time they donated. Every day I would be reminded by the announcements of the growing astronomical amount of pennies each classroom was bringing in. I realized that, though these students may not have a lot to give, they are willing to give whatever they do have to help others.

AFTER-SCHOOL HEROES PLEDGE


By: Roosevelt Williams

This is the pledge our After-School Heroes said during Opening Day ceremonies at Linden McKinley STEM Academy. Crystal McDonald and I were sitting around thinking of a pledge for our heroes, and it clicked, “why don’t we modify the City Year pledge?” So after some brainstorming I give you the brand new After-School Heroes Pledge.

AFTER-SCHOOL HEROES PLEDGE

I pledge to serve as an After-School Hero

To honor the rules and expectations of After-School Heroes

To complete my homework and engage in civic leadership

To lead as I am following

To be kind and courteous to one another

Realizing that we are all connected

And I succeed only when my fellow Heroes succeed

I pledge to serve to not only make a difference in my community

But be the change in the world I wish to see

I am an After-School hero and I will

Learn, Lead and Transform