By Leah Singerman, AmeriCorps member serving on the Deloitte team with Irving Middle School
Header photo featuring student artwork taken by Kayla Parr, AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team with Dever-McCormack Middle School

During my City Year, I have been thrilled to see music used as a tool for connection, communication, and learning. To celebrate the infusion of my personal passion for music into my service, here are five songs that will always remind me of my City Year.

Beautiful Girl - Sara Bareilles
During Midyear Summit training this January, a week when City Year members came together for training and re-centering on service after winter break, the City Year Boston Corps had an Ubuntu Showcase (more commonly referred to as a talent show). Jelyn Masa, a fellow AmeriCorps member serving with Curley K-8 School performed this song, dedicating it to our middle school students who have trouble seeing their own strengths. Its lyrics say, “Let me remind you one more time / That maybe you’re beautiful but you just can’t see / So why don’t you trust me / They’ll see it too, you beautiful girl you.” This performance touched me, and the lyrics rang true for so many of the young, bright, and insecure students whom I serve. 

Shut Up and Dance With Me - Walk the Moon
Every day at the Irving Middle School, we greet our students bright and early as they arrive for their day. Our students may be tired or cold, but we do our best to get their energy up for the school day. Finding fun, energetic songs has been a must in this process. This song has become a team favorite; when it comes on, it’s impossible for us to keep still. Our students can’t help but laugh when they see us dancing around and having such a great time on their way into school. 

Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys
Boston loves its sports. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or hockey, there’s something beautiful in the fact that (almost) our entire city is rooting for the same team. As a newcomer to the city, I enjoy connecting with my students through learning all about their favorite sports and players. This song, played at so many of Boston’s sporting events, signifies the community and excitement shared by everyone in support of our teams.  

One Day - Matisyahu
At Irving Middle School, our students can take chorus, theater, visual arts, and dance. Every quarter, students get to perform and show off their hard work at a school-wide assembly. Last quarter, our chorus sang this song, an anti-war anthem, as part of its performance. Even more of a joy was seeing one of my students, Danielle*, perform. Danielle struggles with self-confidence and shyness around other people; she and I have worked together to help her focus on all of the positive qualities she possesses, including her musical talent. I was so proud of Danielle for challenging herself to sing a solo in front of the whole school, and her performance was beautiful.

Team Lilman Anthem - DJ Lilman
Our 8th-graders love music, and at our last field day, I had a blast acting as DJ and taking my students’ requests. When I played this song, I was shocked and ecstatic to see one of my students flawlessly executing the accompanying dance, move-for-move, performing in front of a crowd of his peers. I knew about this student’s passion for dance, but seeing him in his element truly filled my heart, and this is one of my most cherished memories of this year.

*Name changed to protect student privacy

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