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Antonio Marshall serves at the Johnson School of Excellence. 

One of City Year's values is the "belief in the power of young people." Serving at Johnson School of Excellence, in the beautiful North Lawndale community, affords me the opportunity to witness young people striving for excellence everyday.

This display of power speaks to me tremendously, as many of my students face obstacles that are beyond their control. Thurgood Marshall once said, "None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots." This quote mirrors my unequivocal determination to deconstruct a system where a zip code often determines if you receive a quality education or not. 

While data shows the work of City Year AmeriCorps members is having an impact, it is also valuable to hear the personal testimonies of the students we serve. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing two students to hear how city year has influenced them and how city year has made an impact at Johnson School of Excellence.

Below are the questions along with their answers, though I have ommitted their names to protect thier identities.

Antonio Marshall: How long have you been attending Johnson School of Excellence and how long has City Year worked with you?

Student One: I'm new here at Johnson. This is my first year having City Year work with me. 

Student Two: I've been at Johnson since Pre-K and this is my fourth year having City Year work with me. 

Antonio Marshall: What do you like about City Year?

Student One: I like what City Year does as far as helping kids who may be having a bad morning or who may not have perfect situations at home.  I also like the homework help that City Year do because some of us can't get homework help at home. 

Student Two: I like how students who are below level get to with with City Year and with their help are able to improve their test scores. City Year also plays a role in us being successful everyday. 

Antonio Marshall: What's your favorite thing about City Year? 

Student One: City Year cares for us and our education and never give up on us like other people. I also feel comfortable bringing my concerns to City Year such as bullying. 

Student Two: City Year motivates me to come to school everyday and have perfect attendance, get good grades, and improve my test scores. City Year motives and helps me get involved in my community. When I'm sad or having a bad day City Year makes everything better. 

Antonio Marshall: How have City Year AmeriCorps members helped you personally?

Student One: City Year makes sure that when me or other students are struggling, we are not made fun of. City Year has also help me with my enunciation of difficult words while also making my other classes easier.

Student Two: Over the past four years City Year has helped me get perfect attendance and motivated me to be more active in extracurriculars. City Year has also helped prepare me for anything that may come my way.

Antonio Marshall: I enjoyed this great opportunity to interview these students.  To conclude, I think it's safe to say City Year is undefeated when it comes to making better happen for the students at Johnson and beyond. 

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