Upham's Corner Online

City School - Testimonials to its Greatness

Posted: March 19, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

City School is located in Upham's Corner with an entrance off Hamlet Street, kind of quiet and well-hidden from the hustle and bustle of the main drag.  City School's SLP, Summer Leadership Program, is one of the more challenging summer "jobs" that youth can apply for, challenging enough that not everyone can graduate and become a "graduate leader." 

For example, last summer's program had 76 students and 66 completed the 6 1/2 week program including writing and presenting a paper associated with the academic seminar.

What's most important is the quality of youth that do complete the SLP and who go on to become leaders and shakers in their adult lives. 

The testimonials that follow give you a flavor of the remarkable opportunities for growth provided by this teen leadership development organization.
  • Roy Daley is in his first year with City School and he loves it.
  • Samantha Casseus, in her third year, says it has "broadened her horizons."
  • Gabriella Gilbert taught a leadership program in Haiti based on what she has learned from City School
Roy Daley, a junior at Brookline High, is in his first year at City School.  Last year he completed the SLP - Summer Leadership Program.  He now serves as a member of the youth organizing team, what they call GLU - "Grad Leaders United."

Members of GLU "come together during the school year and help organize events every Wednesday.  We host workshops and discussions around areas of social justice or events in our community."Roy Daley

"Recently, during February vacation we, along with other youth organizations, organized for the youth jobs rally that we do every year.  Right now we are in the middle of helping out Bird Street prepare for the annual Youth Summit next month."

"I don't really know very much about the Youth Summit because this is my first year.  I believe it is a celebration that involves youth and their talents."  His job is to assist - to do "whatever they ask, whatever they need me to do in order to help them prepare.  Recently I have been sending out the Youth Summit brochures to the press."

As far as his future is concerned, Roy has a plan. "I'm going to do a two-year college program and then afterwards, depending on my progress, go on to a four-year program.  I don't know yet what college program to do, but I do know that I'm going to do it."  

And why not jump directly into a four-year program?  "I don't want to overwhelm myself by going to a four-year college and find out that it's not right for me.  I like the idea of easing myself into it by starting out with a two-year program."  Makes sense, doesn't it?

Do you come to City School to hang out with your friends?  "No, I come here to work.  I love it."

Samantha Casseus Samantha Casseus is currently in the 12th grade and has been with City School for three years.  Why has she been involved for so long?  Because, she says, it is a great supplement to her education. 

City School provides an "experience that we don't get in our regular public school.  It is a very comforting place where you can work and meet with people out of your comfort zone and be able to talk about social issues that you don't talk about at school." 

"During my three years at City School, I have participated in three academic seminars:
  • The immigration seminar
  • The homelessness and poverty seminar
  • The health seminar
All the seminars have social justice issues, and they all related in their own way." 

Would you recommend your friends that they get involved in City School? 

"Absolutely, yes.  I'd tell them that it's just a good place to meet new friends, learn how to be sociable and how to communicate with other people."
"Another important thing they taught us was problem-solving skills - fixing situations and conflicts so that everyone may be able to get along and work together."

Her experience at City School has had a greater influence on her choice of career than her regular schooling has had.  "City School broadened my horizons.  I feel that after this year when I graduate I will be able to use the knowledge that I've learned through the City School to go further and help in the world.   I am now interested in studying law."

Gabriella Gilbert, in her third year at City School, participated in a very special activity in the summer of 2010 where she was able to make use of all the skills she had learned at City School in the prior year.  But we'll get to that in a minute. 

In 2009 Gabriella completed the summer leadership program (SLP).  She elected the violence seminar and learned about gangs, gang leader activities and the history of the formation of gangs.  This helped her gain an important perspective - how social paths can start out on a positive note and be twisted by conflicting social forces.  Gabriella Gilbert

"During the seminar we had a lot of videos and topics to talk about.  The seminar exposed us to different activities that are going on now and why they might be going on. It showed me that there can be a positive root to some evils.  Like some things could've started off good and then after a time different situations and events eventually change it. "

Besides an academic seminar, the summer program includes a practicum, a chance to work two days at an activity generally associated with your seminar.  In Gabriella's case, she got to work directly for City School, helping to prepare their 'Summer Book.' 

"So I had to take down information from people - what they liked, what they didn't like, what were their favorite parts, what were the least favorite parts."  Her job was to bring things together "that would create memories and to take pictures of people."

Did she prefer the seminar or her work on the Summer Book?  "I enjoyed the violence seminar.  My whole SLP experience is what pushed me to do what I did during the summer of 2010."

What did you do in the summer of 2010? 

"For the summer of 2010, I went to Hache Haiti.  See the shirt I am wearing?  I wore it every day at the summer camp.  My sister went to my mother's hometown, Hache Haiti.  She started a summer camp there, and she came back and told me all the great things.  I saw the pictures, I saw the videos.  Especially after the events of the earthquake, I really felt like this is the summer I'm going to go down there to help out." 

In 2010 the summer camp had "three different classes - two English classes, a speech class and a writing class, a math class and my leadership class.  We served 72 students.  I spoke Haitian Creole. Going to Haiti and helping out in a camp was a highlight of my life."

You might be surprised to find out the Gabriella is not interested in being a teacher, a social worker or a camp counselor.  "I've developed an interest in becoming an engineer.  I feel that I can use the skills I learn as an engineer to help people.  I haven't quite figured out how to do that.  I feel that because I have certain privileges that other people don't have, I want to share my talent with less fortunate people." 

What are Gabriella's privileges?  Education, she says.  She's only 17 and a junior in high school.  She has not completed her high school education but she thinks of herself as privileged.  And who is she comparing herself against?  "People who don't have the opportunity to go to school.  I want to use what ever I might learn in college and use that to help people.  I wouldn't mind moving to Haiti if I have a plan about what I'm doing down in Haiti."

Gabriella highly recommends City School for anybody.  "It has made a big impact on my life. First off, City School is a very welcoming environment.  It welcomes all different types of people, different ages, different cultural backgrounds and it accepts them for who they are.  No matter what you've been up to, the City School is ready to take you in.  They are also ready to educate you and teach you.  As long as you are open to learning, it will be an amazing time." 

"I would definitely encourage people to come to the City School, see what it has to offer and then figure out what they have to offer the City School.  It's a mutual relationship."

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