Thankful Thursday: San Jose Sharks

–Written by Kevin Hoang, corps member at Fischer Middle School

Students excited to cheer on the Sharks

Students excited to cheer on the Sharks

On Tuesday, November 5, the Fischer Saints had a great opportunity to share in some San Jose spirit by attending the San Jose Sharks game. Even though I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life, I’ve never had the chance to see a Sharks game so it was special for me to share my first experience with my students.

Students began arriving around 7pm to get ready for the game, and we quickly funneled inside to grab our seats.  Armed with some delicious game food and excitement, we arrived just in time to see the puck dropped for the first period.

View from the City Year seats.

View from the City Year seats.

Throughout the game, students watched intently as the puck flew across the ice and cheered loudly whenever the Sharks scored. When the Sharks made their second goal of the game, students erupted in cheers and high-fived other members in the crowd, really showing how much spirit our Fischer Saints have! As we left the game, the students talked about how much they enjoyed the game and how they couldn’t wait to go to another one. We all had an amazing time and walked away even bigger Sharks fans! A huge thank you to the San Jose Sharks Foundation for this amazing opportunity.

City Year group enjoying the game!

City Year group enjoying the game!

Corps member Kevin Hoang enjoying his first Sharks game!

Corps member Kevin Hoang enjoying his first Sharks game!

Corps member Isabella Fante enjoying the game with her students

Corps member Isabella Fante enjoying the game with her students


Thankful Thursday: The San Francisco 49ers

 By Nicholas Whitson, Evaluations Project Leader 


Growing up in San Diego I’ve had a little grudge against the 49ers since they beat the San Diego Chargers in the 1995 Super Bowl. So when I was asked if I would like to attend a 49ers game I was a little reluctant. Nevertheless, I showed up early and piled into a car with my fellow corps and staff members eager to help City Year with the school supply drive.

As we got closer to Candlestick Park we found ourselves in a parade of yellow and red 49er’s flags. We all gasped when we saw a child lean out of a truck window and pump his fist at us in excitement. We were in red and yellow, on the 49ers turf, and were about to be part of something larger.


Brandon, the 49ers Foundation Community Relations Manager, came by and talked to us about how it was a beautiful day at Candlestick Park. I was in full uniform, khakis, Timberlands and a red bomber perfect to represent City Year AND the 49ers.. I stood near an empty box labeled school supply donations and I called out in a shaky voice, “accepting donations for school supplies!” as waves of people walked passed me like I was a ghost. I had started sweating though my undershirt when I caught the eye of an older couple reaching into their bag.  They pulled out a shopping bag full of brand new pens, notebooks and erasers. They wished me luck as they left to go find their seats. This was the snow ball that started the avalanche. I teamed up with Aarika, a City Year staff member, and suddenly our voices were loud and our donation envelope was overflowing.


When the drive was over we were invited to come in and watch the game. 49ers running back Kendall Hunter even scored a touchdown as soon as we found our seats. This sealed up all the excitement I felt from collecting school supplies. For our students new school supplies make them excited about learning. Our student’s academic progress this year can be greatly attributable to the 49ers attention and contributions and I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for the continued support.

Thankful Thursday: 2011-2012 Corps Members

This is to the City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley corps of 2011/2012.

Congratulations to all of you.  Thank you for your service.

As I was preparing to write this blog I came upon the realization that “Thank you” is such a trite way to express gratitude.

I can list the great accomplishments of your 2000 hours of service. The 100’s of students served, the difference you made in schools around attendance behavior and course performance. But that does not capture it all. There is “behind the scenes” work that no one sees that’s helps make this all happen.

Things like:

  • Preparing lesson plans after 10 hour days
  • In some cases, convincing your parents to let you do this
  • Stepping up when a teammate was sick
  • Minimum days (which were really maximum days)
  • Living on a small stipend
  • Piloting programs
  • Data and all the entry, analysis, adjustment of same
  • Serving on committees in addition to your regular responsibilities
  • Staying late, with a great attitude, until the l a s t  s t u d e n t is  finally picked up
  • Lunch with students, spending the time to get to know them and building relationships
  • Walking students home
  • Working with teachers, doing meetings, tracking student progress
  • Talking with parents and siblings of students and building relationships with them


  • End of year events

You took time from your life and devoted it to service. Pure service that entailed you giving your absolute best ALL the time to make sure students that were total strangers 11 months ago became the reason for your being.

You’ve been trained, observed and evaluated. You rose above daunting challenges and chose not be overwhelmed by your task of giving a year and changing the world.  You just did it. You put your shoulder into the grindstone and did it via your 50+ hour work week, minute by minute, line by line, math problem by math problem you did it. You changed the worlds of so many students. You worked with students who had no hope, no confidence and no investment in their own future. These same students now have goals, and aspirations. Once more, they can write about them and even figure out how to achieve them.

You chose this path perhaps for personal or professional reasons. Maybe both. All of you were challenged. Some left. But if you are a City Year San Jose / Silicon Valley graduate. You stayed.

And here you are, 53 friends who were strangers a year ago.  A corps of 53 change agents. You took a chance to join City Year and change the world. And you did it. Thank you and congratulations.

Beach Pace, Executive Director CYSJ/SV

Thankful Thursday: The CYSJ/SV Alumni Board

This past Monday we came together as a staff and corps for a Thanksgiving dinner right here at the City Year office.   The event was organized and hosted by the City Year San José/Silicon Valley Alumni Board and our current staff.  To summarize: it was amazing.

Corps members line up for dinner

The Cisco Chavez Elementary School team enjoying the meal

Tables were filled with all of the traditional Thanksgiving favorites: sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey and pumpkin pie.  Having just completed another long day of service at schools, corps members stood crowded near the table, eagerly anticipating the feast that was to come.  The staff members and alums were playing it cool, but I know they were hungry too.  It was almost 7 o’clock.



“Dig in!” Romel said. And people took him at his word.

But this was not the pushy scene you might see at your typical buffet.  People were laughing, passing plates and sharing.

Overall it was a good opportunity to just hang out, chat and build community the old fashioned way…through eating.  There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal with all of the City Year people here in San Jose.  It really is like a second family.


Huge thanks to Program Manager Romel Antoine, the alumni and staff for the delicious meal!

-Amanda Liles, Literacy Project Leader and Social Media Manager CYSJ

Thankful Thursday: Alum Rock Union School District and Goss Elementary Staff

Each week, City Year San José/Silicon Valley will thank a person or organization for inspiring us in our service.  This week we thank Principal Brian Schmaedick, the teachers of Mildred Goss Elementary and the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District.

Last Tuesday marked the end of our third annual City Year Leadership Academy, a program we hosted at Goss Elementary in order to build student excitement for the upcoming school year and provide new corps members with hands-on experience and training.

Principal Brian Schmaedick gives a speech about City Year at Goss during Starry Starry Night 2011.

This program would not have been possible without the help and support of Principal Schmaedick, the Goss faculty and the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District.

These school partners opened their doors early and allowed us to use their classrooms and campus for all of our activities.

Leadership Academy was a major success as we enrolled 234 students from our five partner schools.  During the course of our nine day academy, students received standards based instruction in math and literacy and were taught how to make healthy nutrition choices and become respectful members of our community.

From a training perspective Leadership Academy was a huge accomplishment.

Corps members led all activities and were able to hone their classroom management, tutoring and relationship building skills.  This facilitation, coupled with training workshops from City Year and district staff, prepared corps members to step on campus for the first day of school this week.

All in all Leadership Academy got students, corps members and staff pumped up for this school year.  Thanks to Principal Schmaedick, the teachers of Mildred Goss Elementary and the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District for making it all possible.

Amanda Liles, Literacy Project Leader & Social Media Manager CYSJ

Thankful Thursday: Starry Starry Night Supporters

Corps Member Ali Bueno was joined on stage by her mother Lisa Arellano to share their story.

Last Thursday night, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley celebrated our service at Starry Starry Night, our annual fundraising gala. We were joined by teachers, administrators, elected officials, sponsors and community members to share in our joy and learn about the impact we are having on the hundreds of students in San Jose we serve everyday.

This was our site’s chance to really share our story.

It was truly inspiring for me to see students performing a school launch on stage in front of a large group of people. I teared up when corps member Ali Bueno and her mother shared their heart wrenching story of overcoming the obstacles of raising a child as a teen mother. I swelled with pride when corps members Christina Johnson, Alyssa Chun and Alejandro Belden did a spoken word performance about their service.

But the celebration wasn’t only about our contributions to the community.

CEO of Applied Materials Mike Splinter with corps members Jeff Arnold and Celina Chun. Splinter was the recipient of the City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley Service Leadership Award.

We also had the pleasure of honoring Mike Splinter, CEO of Applied Materials, for his commitment to serving the Silicon Valley community. Applied Materials is a huge supporter of City Year; this year they are sponsoring a school-based team serving at Lee Mathson Middle School.

Thanks to the incredible support of the more than 360 attendees, we were able to raise more than $160,000 during the Fund-a-Need portion of the dinner which was co-led by City Year Vice President and Regional Director Stephen Spallos and City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley board chair Carl Guardino, President & CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Overall, we were able to raise more than $230,000!

We couldn’t have done it without the support of our event sponsors.

If you’d like to see more of this inspiring event, please check out the City Year Flickr.

And if you’d like to donate, visit and designate San Jose/Silicon Valley as the recipient of your gift.

Below is a video that includes interviews from some of our guests.

Thankful Thursday: San Jose Senior Corps

Each week, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley will thank a person or organization for inspiring us in our service. This week, Recruitment Project Leader and Social Media Manager will thank the City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley senior corps for being an integral part of her journey as a City Year corps member. 

Almost two years ago now, I stepped off a plane from Rochester, NY to San Jose, CA, a place I had never been to in my entire life. It was a really exciting feeling, but it was also pretty scary. I was coming to a place to work with an organization that I still didn’t really know that much about and didn’t know a soul for thousands of miles.

That first night sitting alone in my hotel room, I couldn’t help but think of all of the amazing family and friends I had left behind. I hoped that through City Year, I would make new friends and the feeling of emptiness and loneliness I was experiencing would quickly dissipate.

I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.

Over these past two corps years, I have grown to know and love some pretty incredible people. But the people who have made the biggest impact on me are the folks I have proudly served with this year on the senior corps team.

Most of us served together last year, and came back because we not only knew that we weren’t done serving this community, but because we wanted to be there to help shape the corps experience of those who were filling our boots.

Together, we did our best to support the corps and to support each other. It wasn’t easy. We disagreed with each other, we challenged one another and we had to give each other some pretty difficult feedback.

But as I look back on my experience, the difficulties are what I will really appreciate about the team. We never let ourselves or each other get comfortable in our service. We pushed each other to our challenge zones, but provided as much support as we could.

And through it all, we became family.

Now as I think about going back to the east coast to attend graduate school, I’m sensing that feeling of emptiness creeping back in. My 1,700+ hours a year I spent serving, I didn’t serve alone. I have spent more of my waking hours with this group of people than anyone in my life thus far, and the thought of not being with them anymore is saddening. In fact, its not really something I’ve allowed myself to think much about.

So to the senior corps, thank you for everything. You’ve all taught me so much and have given me so many amazing memories. I’m proud to have served with you.

Megan Baker, Recruitment Project Leader & Social Media Manager CYSJ