Hannah Bell was a bright light to her City Year mentors and within the South L.A. community. She was a 9th grader at Santee Education Complex when she tragically lost her life to gun violence. Prior to attending Santee Education Complex, Hannah was a student at Carver Middle School in South Central Los Angeles. As a 7th and 8th grader at Carver, Hannah worked primarily with City Year AmeriCorps alumni Darryll Lim and Brandon Giles. Below, more of Hannah’s mentors from City Year — Darryll, Brandon, and Jacqueline — share their fondest memories of Hannah.

From Darryll Lim
Program Manager
Compton Avenue Elementary School in Watts

I first met Hannah in her 7th grade math class. I had the honor and privilege to serve as her first City Year. Her first day in class, she sat in the back of the classroom, which eventually became her permanent seat. She had a shy and introverted demeanor that reminded me of myself in middle school. However, as the year went on I began to learn about her interests and personal experiences. Despite the challenges that she faced, both in and out of school, she had this outgoing personality and sense of humor that brought joy to those who around her. She was resilient, powerful and full of potential and all of that was taken away from us too soon. Rest in Power, Hannah. You will be missed, you have impacted my life in more ways than you had ever thought. I will forever be grateful, honored, and humbled to have been your City Year.

From Brandon Giles
Program Manager
Carver Middle School in South L.A.

My fondest memory of Hannah is seeing her dressed up, smiling and so happy to culminate with her friends. I saw her work hard for the whole month of May to make up schoolwork she'd fallen behind on so that she could culminate on time. That's why I serve and will continue to serve. Seeing students succeed and believe in themselves is an unexplainable feeling that I wouldn't trade for the world and will always hold on too. Thank you, Hannah for the memories I will always cherish.

From Jacqueline Vargas
AmeriCorps Team Leader
Santee Education Complex in South L.A.

It feels unreal; we shouldn’t have to be burying a student, a 15-year-old child. I choose to remember her smile, perseverance, and witty jokes. I remember the day I spent with Hannah and her friends when Eileen (her primary City Year mentor) was out one day. We were working on math. One of them cursed and Hannah said, “Miss, write it down on the tally sheet, and after three tallies if someone curses you can take our phones away.” I remember she handed over her phone; I didn’t even have to ask her. I admire that she was honest and held herself accountable. I admire her bravery to always speak her mind. I choose to remember Hannah’s smile and not by how she was taken from us.

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