The dreaded alarm clock—with its blaring announcement that it’s time to wake up.

“Who’s a true morning person, really, when you’re in high school?” Nathan Watson, Growth Leader with Yum! Brands and Taco Bell Foundation for Teens morning greeting volunteer, said. “Some days it can be a real challenge to just get out of bed.”

We know how important it is for students to arrive to school on time. Research from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools predicts that between 5 and 7.5 million students are chronically absent every year. When students are not in school, they not only miss the opportunity to grow academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

Sometimes half the battle is showing up to school, and we know that attendance is the first step to success. That’s why we solicited the help of our partners at the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to welcome our students to school and encourage them to come to school on time and ready to learn.

Morning greeting allows us to welcome every student to school each day—and let them know we care that they’re here and that we notice when they’re not. When our Taco Bell partners join us—we pull out all the stops. Armed with noisemakers and pompoms, these volunteers help us energize and pump up the students for a day of learning.

While our near-peer mentor role allows us to build unique relationships with our students, it’s also important for them to see other adults and community members supporting them as well. When volunteers from Taco Bell helped us greet students at Cody High School, Michallene Thacker-Mann, City Year Detroit’s Director of Corporate and Foundation Partnerships saw the impact on students. “It isn’t lost on them that these are adults who are taking their time in the morning to greet them. […] It’s really the small things that make a big difference,” she said.

“When you see a kid who has their head down and they’re dreading the day—but then suddenly they hear clapping and cheering. The next thing you know there’s a smile on their face. Now they seem engaged and ready for today,” Nathan added.  

To date, Taco Bell has helped us greet students at three of our schools in Detroit: Detroit Collegiate Prep, Harper Woods Secondary School, and Cody High School When asked what he learned from volunteering at morning greeting, Nathan said, “I learned the amount of pride and energy the corps members have. But that pride and energy extends beyond the corps members as well. We’ve been able to tour the schools and to meet many of the teachers and faculty. These may not be the newest brightest buildings, but there are a ton of passionate hearts to make it what it is—a fun, welcoming, clean environment for the students.”

“I think attendance does play a role in academic success,” Nathan said, “but it also plays a role in life in general. It’s important—whether it’s school or work—it’s important to show up. It’s not only about being there, but showing up with the right mindset and the right attitude.”

Together our entire community is helping students develop those positive habits. And it all starts with attendance.

City Year is partnering with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens™ on an initiative to encourage students nationwide to attend and arrive on time to school every day. This attendance-focused partnership supports more than 3,000 students at 14 schools in Detroit, Miami, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.


Share This Page