Written by Lindsay Hall, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Albemarle Foundation Team at Merrydale Elementary School

After a semester of long hours of after school the students of Merrydale, it was time for a celebration. Team Merrydale has been working with students from first grade to fifth on dance, art, creative writing, and reading. In this time the kids developed an impressive portfolio, and it was clear that this talent deserved to be shared, celebrated and rewarded.  The showcase had been the topic of discussion for months, but as the school year drew to a close the event took on a greater significance. We’d been through so much with our students, and each other. This celebration was our last chance to throw a great party for our kids and make some lasting memories.

The day of Jaguars in the SPOTlight, Merrydale’s end-of-year showcase, was chaotic as we put the finishing touches on the event. A hallway was transformed into an art gallery, and the common area into an auditorium. Once again, the students came through, supporting us by helping to put together the displays. As the event got underway, the students shared the poetry they had read and written. The school favorites, Jaguar D.I.V.A.S., performed for the last time, and the members of and Merrydale’s Girls on the Run team were recognized for their athletic achievements.

The performances by the students was followed by the performance for the students by the New Orleans clown duo Lulu and Apple Juice, accompanied by instrumentalist Sharks. Their act enraptured the young audience, and for a few minutes they were perfectly still. Until the food came out, donated by Mr. Marvin, and the party was on. Parents toured the gallery while the students got their faces painted and played with their new clown friends.

We’ve been fortunate to see what the students we serve are capable of creating when given the time and resources to challenge themselves and try new things. Even through temper tantrums, drowsy afternoons, and tearful moments from students and AmeriCorps members alike, our students produced art that was often funny and always touching. Jags in the SPOTlight highlighted all the best of the City Year experience: the creativity and intellect of our students, the dedication of my fellow corps members, and the support of the Baton Rouge community.

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