Guest Post: Reuniting in Service and Leadership at Cameron Middle School

image2Angel is a ninth grade student at LEAD Academy High School. She was among a group of 20 student leaders in the Cameron College Prep eighth grade class who planned and executed an extensive volunteer project with fellow students, Hands On Nashville, HCA, Teach For America and other community partners to revive the Cameron courtyard during the 2014-2015 school year.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, Angel will travel back to the courtyard with her peers to continue her service to Cameron on Make A Difference Day. Before the project, she shared her excitement with us.

Hi, my name is Angel, and I am an alumni of goLEAD. We are a community who gathers together to change the world around us to make it a safer and better environment. I started this program in the 8th grade at Cameron Middle School after teachers chose me and 19 others as leaders to represent the school. This Saturday, October 24, is a special day for my peers and me. We will reunite on Make ADifference Day. All across the country, volunteers will work on projects to benefit their communities. Here in Nashville, we will volunteer with other alumni from AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and Hands On Nashville to revisit the project we designed at Cameron.

This spring, we worked together for two months going through the goLEAD curriculum to select and design a courtyard legacy project. We were able to speak out ideas to the group and team up on a plan for action. We invited the community to join us in making it come together on April 24 for Global Youth Service Day. The highlight for me was seeing my peers’ faces once the project was completed.Standing back and looking at what we all had made as one brought joy and excitement about the future. I thought, “If we can do what we just did together, we can do something even bigger and better.”

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Click here to view more photos from project!

One challenge during our planning was not knowing what to do with a specific part of the courtyard, which was of course in the middle—the pond. We had to come to a tough agreement about what we wanted to do specifically. We did not want to lose it as a pond, but it would be difficult to take care of, as we saw because it was filled with everything (filthiness) and surrounded by bugs. We were not allowed to be outside playing in the area at that time. We ended up convincing our goLEAD coach, Ms. Hansom, to join us on the Saturday before our community project to muck out the pond so we could convert it into a rain garden on project day.

image1That Friday, more than 100 volunteers—including our fellow students, parents, and teachers plus community helpers from Hands On Nashville, Cumberland River Compact, SoundForest, Nashville Tools For Schools, HCA, Teach For America, and LEAD alumni—helped us turn our courtyard into a beautiful place full of rain gardens, new benches, and a mulch instead of mud pathway.

My friends and I spent the last month of school enjoying the courtyard, eating lunch outside, and spending time there for clubs after school. While we prepared for summer and to move on to high school, we worked with Ms. Parker to continue pulling in others from Cameron to help keep up the courtyard. We are thrilled to return to the courtyard on Make A Difference Day even now that we are spread out across the city and beyond at different high schools.

As a LEAD High School freshman now, I still get to visit the courtyard every day, but my friends who attend schools like Glencliff High School and even Dickson County High School have only heard about it through photos and updates. I can’t wait to lead volunteers with them again.

I wish kids my age could all have the opportunity to stretch out their voices through taking part in a community worldwide program like we did in goLEAD. I want older kids to take it to the next level and teach those younger than them how to do the same.

Be sure to follow #MDDay on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to view the finished service project at Cameron College Prep.

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