written by Lauren Schlenger, corps member on The CSX Team serving at Malcolm X Elementary School
Glimmering red and silver confetti stars, glowing candle-lit lanterns, and decorative paper hearts adorned tables in the Malcolm X Elementary School (MXES) cafeteria one recent February evening. This is not typical décor for the cafeteria at any time of day—especially not after school has ended and students have gone home. Yet on this special occasion, students, families, teachers, staff, and other community members of MXES gathered for the City Year Women’s Appreciation Dinner, hosted by the CSX Team serving at Malcolm X.
This event celebrated a group of students from each grade, who were selected for the exemplary behavior they have demonstrated throughout the school year. The dinner was an opportunity for them to honor women in their lives who have helped them succeed thus far. Students were awarded certificates, and each child’s picture was framed and displayed in a “Hall of Fame.” They then gave their photographs, in addition to cards they’d each pre-made, to their honored guests. Lastly, as a special treat, each student received a nametag exactly like those worn by each and every City Year corps and staff member; students’ official titles, however, were noted as “Malcolm X Leader.” These nametags represent each student’s commitment to leading their peers by making positive choices as an individual. Some honorees were spotted wearing their name tags the next day in school; corps members are excited that these children now have a way to proudly represent their accomplishments!
One corps member, Behavior Coordinator Yonatan Hochstein, conceptualized this MXES event in November. After discussing the idea with the team, he then wrote – and won – a grant in order to make the event possible. Typical of the team at MXES, each corps member then used his or her own strengths to work together and plan the entire event as a group. The CSX Malcolm X team thanks City Year, Inc. and Bethiel Girma for the honor of receiving the Dedication Ceremony Innovation Challenge Grant.
The Women’s Appreciation Dinner featured delicious dinner and dessert items generously donated by Noodles & Co., Matchbox, Acqua al 2, Neuhaus, and Sprinkles. Costco and BJ’s also kindly donated gift cards, which were instrumental in transforming the cafeteria into what one student excitedly described as looking “like a real restaurant.” In addition, a number of wonderful volunteers helped set up and ensured that everything ran smoothly. It was due to this generous community support, as well as the teamwork and dedication of the corps members serving at Malcolm X, that the young leaders they work with daily were able to celebrate their efforts at such a special event!
Check out more pictures in our slideshow!