by Tyler Jones, AmeriCorps VISTA serving with City Year New Hampshire
City Year New Hampshire has served the students of Northwest Elementary School since 2015. This means that the first group of third grade students that City Year AmeriCorps members served are now ready to graduate and move on to middle school. Although they may no longer be a part of the Northwest City Year team, a group of three AmeriCorps alumni have kept their time with City Year—and with their students—in their hearts and made the journey back to New Hampshire to see their former students graduate from fifth grade.
Chelsae Gill-James, Uma Ramesh and Tony Cerasi were part of the first City Year New Hampshire team to serve at Northwest. During the 2015-16 school year, they served in third grade classrooms; three years later, as their former students were ready to complete elementary school, they returned to see them graduate. “It was bittersweet to see them all,” Cerasi said. “There’s a lot of pride for how far they’ve come, but of course we miss them.”
One student shared a thoughtful reflection of her time at Northwest with the audience; she had been in Gill-James’ class. “When I saw her on stage, I almost couldn’t believe it,” Gill-James said. “I was like, ‘wow.’ It was a really incredible moment.”
While it is the nature of City Year’s work to have new AmeriCorps members serve students each year, it is always heartwarming to see the lasting impact that these young adults can have on their students, and vice versa. The fact that these three City Year alumni came to see the end of the journey that they had begun with their students speaks volumes about the power these bonds can have, and the power of the change that they create.