By Sarah Oleisky, AmeriCorps Member, South High School

“Let’s do more giving. Do more forgiving…our souls were brought together so that we could love each other…we are here, we are here for all of us,” lyrics from “We Are Here,” by Alicia Keys 

Every Wednesday after school I am serenaded by 100+ singing South High students. Known as the Harmony Project, which is headed by Choral Director and Founder David Brown, this group gives students the opportunity to participate in an after-school program that fosters collaboration, general conversational skills, and a spirit of service. 

Students began the school year by singing “We Are Here” by Alicia Keys, a seemingly fitting message considering all that is going on in our country and world.  Each week Brown reminds students about the importance of making your community a better place, having confidence in your voice, and seeing the positive in people. Harmony Project allows students to take a step back and reflect on the multitude of ways they can impact their community and beyond. Brown does this by challenging the idea that all we can do is hope for a better future. Instead he insists that students stand up and take an active role in shaping their community and making it one in which they are proud.  

I am incredibly thankful that Harmony Project provides students a space in which not only these types of skills learned and developed, but is one where students are constantly reminded that they have the power to affect positive change. Brown pushes students to lean on each other, find joy in the small things, and to be thankful for what you have.

Leaving Harmony practice every week I am always refreshed and inspired by the many voices I hear and the love I see. While there is palpable gratitude felt in Harmony on a daily basis, the rest of the school is not without thanks and giving. So, this past week I took to the halls of South High to ask students what they were thankful for. Below are some of their responses:

“My family because they help me when I’m down and when I need something. They’re also nice.”

“City Year because they help us with our homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“Waking up every morning and being able to live a blessed life.”

“My friends because they are here for me all the time.”

“My teachers because without them we wouldn’t have an education.”

“School for teaching me things so that I can be successful.”

“My mama.”

“Sports because it gives me the opportunity to have fun and learn at the same time.” 

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