Written by Madeline Churchill, AmeriCorps member at Istrouma High School.

‘Twas the week before finals and all through the halls, not a student was stressing, for City Year can help with it all. My 9th grade English students have recently been working on reading comprehension and rhetorical devices such as repetition and imagery in preparation for their final exams, so to break up the monotony of our usual work, I created a fun lesson plan that would help the students grasp important English concepts and help me make decorations for our upcoming Holiday Extravaganza. We listened to classic holiday songs like “Let it Snow”, identifying imagery in the lyrics as a group and made paper snowflakes and snowman garlands.  It was so exciting to see the students recognize what we’ve been talking about in class being applied to everyday life, and they were excited to know that the decorations they made would be on display during “Christmas on the I”.

On the day of Christmas on the I, my City Year team spent the day decorating the gym for the party and making puppy chow in the Home Economics classroom kitchen to give away as goody bag prizes. We set up stations for making holiday cards, ornaments, gingerbread houses, a photo booth with holiday accessories, and a cake walk. Sports teams on campus sold concessions to fundraise and the school’s drumline performed. Mr. Marquis, my team member, started a game of tug-of-war. The holiday party was a huge success, with the students dancing, laughing, and lining up for the different activities we planned. Although City Year spends all day, every day in the classroom with these students, planning special events to reward our students for their hard work and good behavior also provides us an opportunity to spend time with the students in a less formal environment where we can all let loose and have fun. Allowing our students the chance to have fun at school is an important part of what we do at City Year, and the greatest reward is seeing the difference it makes in the students’ attitudes and classwork. On behalf of my team, happy holidays to all, and to all a much-deserved and restful winter break!

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