By Max Mays, AmeriCorps Member, Heinemann and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Supported Team,
Serving at Henry Wilson Elementary School
My name is Max Mays and I am a City Year New Hampshire corps member from Lenexa, Kansas. I proudly serve at Henry Wilson Elementary School, alongside Team Leader Steven Buske (Andover, CT), and corps members: Abby Papinchak (Doylestown, PA), Jess Lim (Far Hills, NJ), Katrina Herrera (Miami, FL), Kyle Wadstrom (San Diego, CA), and Rhiannon Archer (Mariaville, ME). Although my teammates and I have only been serving in the Henry Wilson School for a few months, we have forged a strong bond through our commitment to the students. It has become quite clear that the average day, of a City Year corps member, features countless moments that could be deemed memorable. However, when this formative journey comes to a close in June, a few instances are certain to rise above the rest. For my team and I, Literacy Night will not soon be forgotten.
On October 7th, as the temperature dropped and the skies darkened, Henry Wilson students and faculty were joined by City Year corps members for a celebration of reading. Upon arrival, students were given the opportunity to refine their literacy skills at six different stations. These stations challenged students academically, creatively, and athletically. With the help of Henry Wilson City Year team, students learned sight words, wrote poetry, played interactive spelling games, designed a tree, and constructed bookmarks. The theme for the night was, “Fall in Love with Reading,” and the school was given a beautifully, autumnal aesthetic. Each station was adorned with a cornucopia of vegetables synonymous with fall. Students buzzed throughout the school with purpose and excitement. Many smiled from ear to ear, overjoyed to be enveloped by their peers and positive ambiance. First grade teacher Jennifer Gagnon, who attended the event, stated, “Literacy night was a great opportunity for Wilson families to come together and enjoy fun and educational activities.”
Ultimately, 107 students attended Henry Wilson’s Literacy Night. These students, who represented a wide range of ages and backgrounds, all left with a shared sense of community and a greater appreciation for reading. It was genuinely inspiring to see that so many students were excited to come to school after-hours and further their pursuit of education. As a City Year corps member looking on, it is moments like these that will serve as motivation to relentlessly support my students in that pursuit.
An accurate account of Literacy Night would not be complete without mention of the selfless support of the entire City Year New Hampshire corps. Over 25 corps members from other schools volunteered their time in order to ensure that the night would be an unquestionable success. Without them, this night would not have been possible. Their help was a not-so-subtle reminder that we truly are one City Year.