By: Becca Spira, corps member
In the beginning, nobody knew who we were. We’d walk the black and silver halls of Montbello High School, smiling ear to ear, saying hello to anyone and everyone that we passed. Some began calling us “The Timberlands.” To others, we were the “Red Jackets.” To everyone else, we were the eleven outsiders in uniform who helped out in classrooms and spent the afternoon in a deserted library.
The City Year uniform is the most visible form of City Year culture, symbolizing values like unity and teamwork. It is the necessary stability, and reassuring presence that allows for the possibility of change in lives that are anything but stable. Yet, while the uniform’s bold visibility packs a punch of idealism, I suspect that its lasting powers lie where they are hardest to see.
This is because City Year, as I see it, isn’t about the corps members that wear the red jackets. It’s about the student who learns from red jackets, and the teenager who invests in herself because she sees how those in red jackets invest in her. It’s about the teacher who can differentiate learning for a classroom of 30, because he knows someone in a red jacket will help make it possible.
Come August of next year, a new corps will walk the halls of Montbello High School in City Year uniform. If the founding corps has been successful, then the uniform’s power will take effect on that first day. Students will see red jackets, and know them as City Year. Students will see Timberlands, and the great experiences with the first corps will be transferred to the new corps. So maybe, on day one, trust will be established and relationships will have already begun. So that maybe, in an ideal world, the library won’t be so deserted on day two.