START STRONG, FINISH STRONGER. Sounds like a workout slogan or a New Years resolution but it’s quite fitting for the occasion. The completion of the first part of the school year is a milestone not to be overlooked. The school year started out with much anticipation:  meeting City Year corps members and staff, new students, partner teachers, and school staff. There are many things that can go through the mind of a first year corps member but getting settled into a new place can take time to get used to. After taking on community service opportunities with local centers, meeting public figures, cheering on our students during sports games, and discovering more connections to the Jacksonville community, the transition gets easier. 
Fast forwarding to now, it’s safe to say that we’ve made it through the first part of the school year and that calls for celebration! The month of December was a short one but those last two weeks were impactful, nonetheless! 
Now that the introductions have been made long ago, relationships are continuously building, the holiday season has come and gone, what’s next? Reminding ourselves of why we serve daily while in the midst of New Year resolutions is a good place to start. Speaker, educational trainer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Stephanie M. Jackson closed the last day of the first half of the year with some food for thought to rest in the minds of the faculty, teachers, staff and City Year team of Andrew Jackson High School. She congratulated everyone for their hard work and reminded of the future truths: many of our students would not return in January due to death, incarceration, and other circumstances. Along with the sad truth of the matter, Jackson left everyone with a task: “continue to remain optimistic even when your students stop dreaming.” 
Starting strong and finishing strong in our schools requires an optimist mind frame. With the year 2015 already among us, finishing strong and making a difference will continue to manifest, one day at a time.   

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