On Monday, August 8, 2016, 203 AmeriCorps members traveled across the city. Harper High School, in Chicago’s Englewood Community, was their destination.

After wrapping up some final paperwork, they proceeded to meet their team leaders. Then, a short, energizing opening ceremony prepared them to make a difference by painting murals, building benches, and giving hallways a fresh coat of red paint—a signature color that Harper High School and City Year Chicago share.

View more photos from the corps kick off service event.

While often known for transforming school spaces, City Year Chicago actually works in schools to support the success of students in 26 Chicago Public Schools. For the remaining week, these new AmeriCorps members engaged in trainings and workshops about the history of national service, Chicago’s public education system and the basics of City Year’s service model, Whole School Whole ChildFriday even included a Scavenger Hunt with the City of Chicago—complete with rainy downpours—as a backdrop.

Throughout the first 6 days of their experience one question lingered, “Which of the 26 City Year Chicago partner schools will I be serving in?”

Those questions would be answered the morning of Tuesday, August 16. Within the hour of circling with their current “Journey” teams, corps members divided into their four portfolios: Spirit, Discipline, Purpose and Pride (the four qualities City Year members must have to serve powerfully).

Once they knew which portfolio they would be serving in, the new corps members solved math problems. The answer revealed which room they should report to. Once they reached their assigned room, their Impact Manager and two team leaders greeted them. But which would be their team leader and what school would they serve at for the rest of the year?

Some corps members popped balloons with pieces of colored paper, which divided them into two teams. Others had to figure out what color "post-it" note they had on their back to find who they would serve alongside.

Once the their teams and school names were pieced together, the mood was a mixture of excitement and relief. How did the corps feel? Two AmeriCorps members now serving at Phillips shared how they felt when they learned their school team.

Sam said the experience was "Absolutely exhilarating. It's so exciting to find out our teams. It is one of the main things you want to get to. Who you work with, where you are placed, it is the beginning."

Morgan felt "nervous to be in a high school but as I thought about it through out the day, I know I can make impactful and lasting influence on the lives of the students that are quickly turning into young adults." Despite nervousness or long commutes, the connection with students is the primary motivator for serving.

Amanda who is serving at Curtis in the Pullman community vows to "Never give up no matter the distance. My school is far away from where I live but I won't give up for my students."

Never give up! The can-do attitude of the new 2016-2017 City Year Chicago Corps is inspiring and we look forward to following their journey as the days continue!

View more photos from the Chicago's Team Placement.

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