Attending City High School is a much different experience than if I had chosen to go to a public school. Charter schools in general have a different agenda, and being located in downtown Tucson provides even more of a chance to stand out among most high schools. Whether its by calling our teachers by their first name or gathering for a Whole School Meeting every Wednesday (yes, we can fit the whole school into one room), we always manage to set ourselves apart. Especially when, once a month, we have our Community Day.
Community Day was designed around the idea that students not only learn better when outside of the classroom and in their surrounding environment, but that they can give back, as well. A week in advance, we're sent an email in which we choose from a list of community organizations that we want to participate in that following Friday. The options include Ben's Bells, Ironwood Tree Experience, going down to the Las Milpitas farm, the Poetry center, and my personal favorite, Playformance.
Playformance is a program that focuses on nutrition and fitness in the form of games for children. I've gone down to Playformance the past two Community Days, and plan on doing so for the next ones, if possible. For the first two hours, we help to clean the equipment and help around the space, and the final two are spent playing whichever game we want. Which, if we have our way, is always some variation of dodgeball.
Its easy to get caught up in the fun of hitting each other as hard as possible with foam balls, but after every Community Day, we're sat down and asked to reflect on what we accomplished that day. We write down something new we learned, someone we connected with that we didn't know prior to this, and how the activities connect to what we learn in the classroom.
Aside from my new connection being Emilio hitting me in the face with the ball at close range, I love getting the chance to think about what it all really means. I think people get so distracted by how much fun we have that we forget what we're out doing: helping our community. It reminds me of parents hiding vegetables in their child's dinner. We don't even realize that these games are in disguise, and that's the beauty of it.
As a school, we hear so much about how we need to be strong members of our community and help to strengthen it that I can't help but sometimes wonder what it means.
It means my back hurts from bending over to scrub tumbling mats for little kids, and I didn't even notice because I enjoyed it too much. Its my friends walking through the rain to paint bells for three hours and doing it with a smile. Its a group of teenage kids volunteering to help without giving it a second thought.
So cheers to you, City High. I didn't even notice the green beans you slipped in.