A Lasting Legacy

Jaleesa Jones is a first year Teaching Fellow at Ivy Hill Elementary School in Newark, NJ.  Two words: Legacy Project. To anyone familiar with the Citizen Schools program, these words, when combined serve as an instant reminder of the work that our 8th grade students take on during the Spring Semester. It is during this period, that a cohort of 8th grade students and team leaders collaborate to develop a project that serves to benefit the campus or school community.

In most cases, the project is 8th grade exclusive, but, what if an idea established by a previous group of 8th grade students was magnified? What if the legacy project was extended to involve the work of all our students in grades 6-8?

At Ivy Hill, we did just that. Through Project Playground, each of our students learned what it takes to become legendary.

The attached images represent the incredible success of Citizen Schools New Jersey coming together to add c o l o r to the Ivy Hill community through what we named 'Project Playground'.

Students were thrilled and slightly confused at the sight of hopscotch, a game most have not played or seen before. Despite their uncertainty, they embraced the game with cheers and leaps from color to color. Basketball courts are now branded with the school’s colors and mascot name, Knights. The new and improved track lanes will help student athletes practice and improve their speed. A huge green and yellow football is at the heart of the football field now refreshed with new lines and markings.  

What is more incredible are the steps our students took to turn this vision into reality. Over the course of an 8 week span, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in Citizen Schools:

  • Defined and planned a personal legacy
  • Matched their community needs to personal goals/talents
  • Wrote persuasive letters to gain support
  • Worked in teams to design Playground Blueprints
  • Communicated their ideas to Ivy Hill principals and teachers  AND
  • Volunteered their time to paint the playground

In the end, our students did more than learn what it takes to BECOME LEGENDARY. Their designs which are now permanently exhibited on Ivy Hill’s playground will continue to live on in the lives of current and future students at Ivy Hill Elementary.  In fact, on that Monday, April 30th, 2012 the collaborative work of our students and Citizen Schools New Jersey BECAME LEGENDARY.