By Zachary Miller, Corps Member

Most of my days as a City Year corps member are spent in the classroom, where I provide academic support and behavior coaching for some of the nation’s most at-risk students.  But every so often, I’m given the privilege of serving in a different way: school beautification projects.  These are massive undertakings that leverage the strength of the entire Los Angeles corps, as nearly 300 like-minded individuals come together for a transformative day of service that sees entire campuses adorned in colorful murals that inspire, motivate, and educate students.

This year, while our students were on spring break, City Year Los Angeles hosted its own service-oriented “Alternative Spring Break” – including two school beautification projects at McKinley Avenue Elementary and Angeles Mesa Elementary. All told, each school received over 1,600 combined hours of service from City Year corps members and staff.

Some of us painted cityscapes that spanned entire hallways; others crafted silhouettes of famous civil rights activists accompanied by some of the lessons they’ve taught us.  At McKinley Avenue, a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. reminds students every day that “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

It’s not every day at City Year that we get to see immediate, tangible results from our efforts.  Service days like the ones at McKinley and Angeles Mesa serve as powerful reminders of what a dedicated group of individuals can accomplish when they work together toward a common goal.

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