Deanna Christmas was a 2018 summer high school interns at the Citizen Schools headquarters in Boston on the Civic Engagement team. Her role consists of helping recruit volunteers for the apprenticeships and to support in ensuring that all the supplies are were ready for the upcoming semester of apprenticeships. Deanna attended the Browne Middle School and is now a sophomore at Chelsea High School. Here is her story.
Citizen Schools was a mandatory part of my day, which I am now grateful for. I was very active and busy during middle school. After school, I attended swim or dance practice and I always found myself upset with Citizen Schools for expanding our school day until 4:15pm. However, now that I’m older, I’m grateful that Citizen Schools has been a part of my life because I would not be the same person today without it.
My involvement with Citizen Schools first began when I was in the sixth grade; during this year I had a lot of fun as our main areas of focus were academic classes, college exploration, and apprenticeships, which are 10 week long projects led by volunteers. I participated in Mock Trial as an apprenticeship and I enjoyed having the opportunity to learn a lot about the law and also being able to visit a law firm. For our WOW!, we went to the Moakley Courthouse and presented our case in front of a real judge. It was such a life-changing experience for me because I learned a wide range of new topics about the law and everyone acted as though we were real lawyers.
I was able to learn and practice a variety of skills, such as: public speaking and teamwork. At the time, Mock Trial opened my eyes to the different careers there are in the justice field and my parents were extremely proud of me for participating in such an experience; As a sixth grader, presenting a case in front of a judge and arguing on a specific side was something they didn’t get to do when they were younger. Having the experience of being in a place that is used everyday to make a change is something that I will always remember and that was the turning point for my deeper interest in Citizen Schools.
In middle school, I was surrounded by support within my school community; the teaching fellows I had, truly cared about my future and they saw and still continue to see the potential in me and my other classmates. They constantly recommended different opportunities to us, which showed that they were invested in all of our success. I rejected opportunities in the sixth and seventh grades, mainly because I wasn’t motivated and didn’t want to do extra work to advocate for myself why I should participate in other apprenticeships or go on college trips, but in the end I regretted it.
By the middle of seventh grade, I was told that I could benefit from the programs that Citizen Schools had to offer and that I couldn’t always say no to everything I had to put in work for. I was very stubborn back then, but when I did take the time to explain why I wanted to do certain activities, I enjoyed them once I got involved. One example of this is a college trip that was being held on a Saturday that I was really opposed to going to, but actually became one of my choices. If I had not gone on the trip, I would not have discovered a school I could see myself attending in the future. Citizen Schools has really helped think about everything with the possibility of what the outcome may be. Many people have pushed me to engage in activities I, at first didn’t want to do, but now I think about how those activities can help me in the future in a positive way.