News & Views

A Tour of New Perspectives

October 20, 2016

The intern changes her perspective after a day with the Charter School students.

I felt like I was boarding an all-too-familiar train. I left my desk to shadow a group of Crispus Attucks Charter School students on their tour of York College. Though the campus was familiar to me, the students were getting a first glimpse of where the future could take them.

The future is both daunting and exciting, but to students attempting to make post-graduation plans, it often leans more toward the daunting side. I’ve experienced its contradictory nature after graduating high school, and I’m still wrestling with it now, post-college.

During the tour, the CACS students also attempted to unpack the abstract meaning of the future.

Despite this shared challenge, we still started off as strangers and I thought I would spend the day on the fringe of the group as the CA intern awkwardly snapping pictures for the CA Facebook page. I didn’t expect them to open up, and I certainly didn’t expect their stories to impact me in such a deep way.

The six students I met had different reasons for attending college. They had experienced different hardships of which I could never relate and, in many ways, they had a more grounded approach to the future than I did at their age. For this reason, they were even more captivated by Irene Hudson’s inspiring advice at the outset of our tour.

Irene, the York College Community Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) Program Director, shared that “Each person is powerful beyond measure,” but too often people remain poor because they “Pass Over Opportunities Regularly.” Irene insisted that there are multiple paths leading to one’s future goals, but only an opportunist can take advantage of them.

How exactly do we handle the future and his mischievous cousin, opportunity?

Step 1: Manage Your Expectations

First and foremost, you must take inventory of your expectations.

I lug my expectations around like a bag of tools; they shape how I view and react to situations and people. For this reason, they can be extremely useful, but they can also be crippling.

Senior year of high school, my hopes of establishing my independence somewhere shiny and new led me to view colleges in my hometown as dirty socks. My view couldn’t have been further from that of the CACS seniors.

They viewed York College as an oasis; it was a sanctuary where they could pursue a better life while staying connected with family. They were star-struck at the variety of extracurricular activities and they saw great potential for personal growth, where I had seen none. To some of them, being able to attend college at all was a blessing.

Seeing how they viewed York College made me realize how much my expectations had  blinded me with ungratefulness. They had made me discredit the benefits of staying close to family and networking in my local community. Consequently, I had missed opportunities to establish myself in York and give back to a city that will always be close to my heart. Worst of all, my expectations had made me take for granted the opportunity I had to attend college in the first place.

Step 2: Change Your Perspective

Once the detrimental expectations have been cleared away, it is necessary to change your perspective of yourself.

I harshly categorize my traits as either assets or drawbacks. This black and white mindset squanders my opportunity for true improvement. I didn’t realize I had fallen into this rut again until I spoke with one student named Martha.

Martha had the most unique reason to attend college: to provide for her mom and give her mom the life she couldn’t have. Coming from a Spanish-speaking home, Martha feared that her struggles with English would prevent her from earning a degree. Like me, she had fallen into a black and white mental rut where her Spanish-speaking was a drawback.

Conversely, I viewed my unilingual English-speaking as a drawback. We both coveted what the other had and in doing so, we discredited our abilities and ignored opportunities for thorough improvement. Changing our perspectives enabled us to appreciate our individuality and better grasp what we have to offer and what we have to work on.

Step 3: Embrace Fluidity

I must confess that I am a control freak when it comes to my future. I want my visions and plans to come to fruition how and when I imagine they will. This micromanagement has often resulted in frustration and disappointment. The seniors I met, similarly to Irene  the YCCOSP Program Director, had accepted that there were multiple paths leading to their future goals, and they weren’t afraid to take detours.

Eric and Adriana in particular are both open to alternate routes. Eric is maturely considering working for a year in order to save for college; Adriana plans to attend HACC to conquer her general education requirements before deciding the next step for her education.

In my haste to reach my destination, I had forgotten how to be wooed and wowed by the future and his mischievous (sometimes spontaneous) cousin, opportunity. Instead of sticking to the exact steps they had imagined, Eric and Adriana embraced change and side routes; what I had seen as off ramps, they saw as scenic opportunities.CACS seniors pose for a group picture on York College's campus

Over the course of one day, these six seniors became more than just another Facebook post. They changed my outlook, and for that, I am grateful. I am also now quite aware—and slightly embarrassed—of the number of opportunities I have categorized as dirty socks. Thanks to these seniors, I know exactly what the future holds for tomorrow: laundry day.



The Intern

A Superhero Without a Cape

October 20, 2016


Firefighter Maxfield poses with his grandson for Fire Safety & Prevention Week

In honor of Fire Safety and Prevention week, the Early Learning Center invited firefighters Maxfield and Spangler from the York City Department of Fire and Rescue Services to teach the youth how to respond in different emergencies. These lessons focused on the basics of when and how to dial 911 and what to do in the case of a fire. The most important and difficult lesson involved teaching the students to recognize firefighters in their uniforms as the good guys.Firefighter Maxfield explains the function of Firefighter Spangler's uniform

Maxfield and Spangler worked as a team to slowly incorporate the 100 pound uniform. As Spangler added each piece, Maxfield explained its function. The students were excited at first but grew more hesitant with every piece of equipment Spangler added.

The self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) often causes the most alarm because it makes firefighters sound and look subhuman. Spangler and Maxfield worked to overcome this fear through a role-playing demonstration.

Maxfield’s grandson, who has grown up learning about firefighters from Maxfield, was the only student brave enough to play the victim rescued by Spangler.

Maxfield remarked that Jah’Syr is definitely not shy and has seen all of the equipment before. This familiarity didn’t stifle Jah’Syr’s excitement at being able to work alongside his grandpa or see the fire truck.

The other students were equally excited to learn about the fire engine and its gadgets. They even got to see the firefighters’ “key to the city,” a special axe used to break into burning buildings. Pre-K Counts poses in front of the fire engine with firefighters Maxfield and Spangler.

Overall, the day was a success. The students learned that superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. To Jah’Syr in particular, his superhero features a mustache and glasses, and retires the cape in favor of a 100 pound uniform.

Crispus Attucks Joins the Hope Movement

September 28, 2016

Youth spreads joy through Hearts of Hope

In recent days the news has bubbled over with stories that foster fear, hate, and pain – but we want to share a very different experience with you today. Even when events seem dire, we can have hope in knowing that small acts can lead to big change.

Over the summer, Francine Baker of the nearby Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York invited Crispus Attucks to join in a “pay it forward” project. Baker leads the congregation’s Peacemakers Camp and Club, which is designed to foster friendships among children, ages 5 to 12, from all religions, to engage in serving their community and create a kind, just, and youthful movement.

The gift wrapped Hearts of Hope before they were presented to the seniors at Rest Haven.Baker explained that the Peacemakers campers were participating in Hearts of Hope, a movement where individuals create healing art and share it with people who may need encouragement or appreciation. Her campers had painted uplifting designs on 50 clay hearts, adding a handwritten note of support and encouragement to each one. The Peacemakers selected Crispus Attucks to share their unique gifts to people in the community who need a reminder to never lose hope.

The programs of Crispus Attucks reach people of all ages; therefore, the delivery of the inspirational hearts could be done in a variety of ways. Going door-to-door, staff from our Active Living Center offered hearts to local senior citizens, encouraging them to come to the center for fellowship and a meal. A small supply of hearts is being reserved for children in our Early Learning Center, Rising STARS program, and charter school that encounter especially challenging times at school or home, and need a bright light in their day.

Children gifting their hand-crafted Hearts of Hope to the seniors at Rest Haven.The children of our Early Learning Center helped pay it forward when visiting seniors at Rest Haven Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Each child gave a Heart of Hope to a senior, taking time to read the message, sharing how the heart made them feel, and how they wished it would make the senior feel. The small gift generated smiles, compassion, and hope for young and old alike.

Together with the Peacemakers at UUCY, Crispus Attucks has joined thousands of people across the nation who have chosen to share hope with others. The 50 Hearts of Hope distributed to individuals in York adds to the more than 75,000 that have been distributed across nation.

We all have the chance to spread hope each day. Opportunities are all around us, here are some of the many organizations you can engage with to be a beacon of light in someone’s life.

  • Fixing York: Creating a platform for community dialogue and crowdsourcing solutions for the York Area. Check out what hope-producing organizations they suggested here.
  • Punks for Positivity: Putting actions behind their words to make York a better place with trash pick-up events, graffiti clean up, and opportunities to protest local violence.
  • United Way of York County: Helping everyone be a part of making great things happen in our community.
  • Share this story with a group you see spreading hope in the community!

Construction Helps York Students Answer, “Where Do I Belong?”

September 28, 2016



High school is often a place where young people try to answer the question, “Where do I belong?” You may remember what it feels like during those years switching interests, friends, and goals for the future.

“Who am I? What am I good at? Who do I want to be?”

Our students at the Crispus Attucks Charter School ask themselves these same questions. Our staff helps them discover the unrevealed answers with career exploration opportunities, case management, and one more unexpected tool – construction training.

As a YouthBuild affiliate, our school supports YouthBuild’s vision to “unleash the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, and community.”

The majority of our students have never worked with power tools or built anything before. A few might have minimal experience from York County School of Technology or household projects, but most feel out-of-place in the construction world. How can you feel capable to rebuild your community and your life when the loud, shrill noises and pure power of the tools intimidate you? For five years, it has been Tyler Kline’s role as the Technology Education Coordinator to inspire this confidence in our students.

Crispus Attucks Charter School students learn about power tools in York“We teach construction because it’s important that the students learn the benefit of giving back to the community through service. We use construction training as a way to empower students to recognize the change they are capable of being in the community,” Mr. Kline shared.

Before they hit the work sites rehabilitating York’s blighted homes into affordable housing units, students must learn the basics of safety and construction. Mr. Kline’s strategy for inspiring students to see their full potential has evolved overtime. He said, “When I first started, I taught everything from the textbook and packets. But based on the student evaluations, we went from handout assignments to hands-on projects.” Students master terminology and technical execution through interactive projects building anything from iPad docks to creative storage solutions. They sell their finished projects and use the profits to sustain these meaningful, learning opportunities with funds for more supplies.Crispus Attucks Students practice construction skills with hands-on projects

These learning projects really engage young people in the school’s goal of instilling responsibility and strong character. Each year, Mr. Kline relishes in the stories students gleefully share about how they leveraged their classroom knowledge to benefit them outside of school. Through construction training, each student has the opportunity to serve more than 600 hours investing in the community. For almost 20 weeks, hardworking students like Katelynn Torres went to her work site with pride and determination, knowing that what she accomplished that day would directly improve another community member’s life.

This experience allowed Katelynn to graduate with the irrefutable knowledge that she is capable of achieving great things, that she can make a difference in this world, and that she has support to face the unknowns in her life. When students develop skills in a new area, they feel accomplished and courageous to go after their other technical and professional interests. We cannot answer the larger questions our students ask themselves, but we do prepare them with the confidence, character, and skills to pursue the next step to their bright future.

Our students are always learning and you can be a part of that process! If you have a wood project idea, please contact Mr. Kline.

Summer Work Experience Program Finishes Strong

August 18, 2016


The Center for Employment & Training’s HYPE program finished the summer with a fun- and snack-filled field day for all of the participants.  HYPE stands for Helping Youth through Prevention and Education.  The program provides students young adults with a paid summer job that helps the York community in many ways.  This summer, these jobs varied from assisting with child care to helping residents with yard work.

IMG_3435 Bright

Students Gain Experience

Participating in work that gives back to the community has a way of empowering these students.  Amirah described the program as a “fun and challenging learning experience.” Through dedicated themselves to a job for the summer, many students learned the value of respect, hardwork, and communicating as a team. “You need to be accountable and you can’t bring your bad attitude to work,” Jayquan shared about his takeaways from working with the Community Progress Council. Alex really valued that the program “gave [participants] an education for a real job. [He] learned soft skills like handshaking and presentation for the first time with CET.”

This program influenced participants’ ideas about their future endeavors and careers  their.  One student expressed five different professions she would like to have; She viewed the HYPE program as an initial step to understand different workplace settings. Reed, a Dallastown student, also wanted to gain job experience before going to college for film production. The majority of students see the benefit that the HYPE program offers for their future, displayed by the many second-year participants.

20160728_112744 Cropped

Community Wins Assistance and Leaders

This sentiment was expressed by many of the other youth including Nekaybaw who “worked outside and cleaned up trash and helped clean up a yard.” Many of the new participants looked up to the second-year students and are committed to coming back next summer for the expanded responsibilities and experience they can earn. from  to take part again next summer. When they return they will even better leaders for the group and in time the community.

Overall, the HYPE program is providing these youth with learning opportunities and skills for their future.  It is definitely more than the average summer job.


Meet Our New Development Director

August 01, 2016


Upon meeting Donna Chandler one can sense her friendly demeanor, optimism, and overall upbeat spirit in mere seconds. These traits come from her love of family, York, and helping others.

In June, Donna started as the Development Director at Crispus Attucks.  We are very excited to welcome her to The Heart of Change.



A native to York County, Donna loves every aspect of the York community, especially the mix of country and city life. She has a long history working with nonprofit organizations in the York community, including the American Heart Association and Child Care Consultants. Her work with these organizations has lead Donna to develop many skills including creativity, interpersonal skills, and networking abilities. Helping others is truly Donna’s passion in life and the personal, hands on nature of the work really captivated her. Anyone who speaks with Donna will instantly realize she is extremely personable and has a big heart. This can be seen in her love of family—both her own and the families CA works with everyday.



HEART WORK, not hard work

CA’s success in the York community is what Donna really admires about the organization. From interacting with CA in  her previous positions, she knows how much of an impact Crispus Attucks makes on the community and wanted to join in those efforts. As Development Director, Donna works to ensure that CA’s mission continues to impact lives in the future by garnering support from donors who make the work possible. One of the main aspects of her role is fund-development, which Donna prefers to call “fun-development”. One goal that Donna has is to immerse herself in the multitude of programs that CA offers.  She is really looking forward to delving into every aspect of the organization and is excited to work together with staff and volunteers alike to strengthen CA’s development strategy.


We are excited to welcome Donna and hope you are too.  When you see her around, please say hello. Help Donna feel a part of the CA family by sharing a little about yourself below.




New Face Among the Rising STARS

July 22, 2016

New Face, Same passion


Philip Drayden Jr. is the newest addition to the Crispus Attucks family as the Youth Education Director for the Rising STARS Program.  His enthusiasm and eagerness to work with youth and create programs for them is engaging to everyone he meets.

For Phil working with Crispus Attucks is truly a family affair.  As a child he participated in many of the programs that CA offered, his sister was a member of the World Championship South Side Steppers, and his grandfather played basketball for CA in his day, to describe just a few of his connections to the organization.

Phil is an extremely respectful and enthusiastic individual, especially when talking about the future of Crispus Attucks.  In fact, one of the things he found most impressive upon his return to York was how it appears now and the increase in youth development focused programs and groups.  Phil wants to help York to thrive as it is both his hometown and now where he is raising his three children.


Phil’s scientific background, which includes an engineering degree from Penn State University, influences his goals for the Rising STARS program.  He desires to make CA a place where everyone wants to come and participate.  Phil looks forward to implementing even more programs here at CA, including a culinary school and more sports, along with other programs to expand CA’s reach in the community.  This new culinary project is modeled after a  program that Phil assisted with when he lived in the Midwest.  The Midwest program was so successful that the students’ food products were actually sold in organic food stores, such as Whole Foods.    His two favorite words are “abundance” and “enthusiasm”.  Phil plans on providing the STARS with an abundance of opportunities to show them academic and career fields they might not have known, just like the M.O.E.S.T. program did for him as a youth.  Phil is very enthusiastic about these changes, which will definitely rub off onto the youth and other staff he works with.


Click here to discover more about the Rising STARS program today.

Honoring a Living Legacy and Youth Advocate

July 22, 2016

Selena Dickson Wins Youth Mentor Award

Marion Howard’s family presents an award each year to a  recipient who demonstrates love, strength, and inspires young people in the community. This award was created to honor Mrs. Howard’s life work, she stood for justice and the importance of valuing and loving all our young people in the community. Crispus Attucks honors Mrs. Howard’s legacy with the “It Takes A Village Award.”

This year, a very fitting winner received the prize. Selena Dickson was announced winner of the “It Take a Village Award” in honor of Mrs. Howard at Crispus Attucks Annual Mother and Daughter tea.

Selena’s Journey to Influence

Selena came to Crispus Attucks 20 years ago with a big idea. She presented her plan for starting a drill team to engage youth in a positive activity. With her experience in drill, competitive cheerleading, and various dance styles- such as African dancing and hip-hop- there was no doubt in leadership’s mind, Selena would be fit for the job. Just as expected, she has played a pivotal role in youth development for our community, but these are not skills she learned by herself.

From a young age, Selena has always been an active part of the Crispus Attucks family. The support she received growing up opened her eyes to an opportunity for herself to help others thrive. “My goal here is to see our youth graduate and further their education in hopes that they will achieve their goals in life.” Selena’s vision for her work focuses on giving the same support that she was given when she was young back to today’s youth. Selena hopes to be a role model and she is not alone in that quest. Many of Selena’s family members also volunteer for the Crispus Attucks Rising Stars program.

But there is one more person who truly influenced Selena’s drive and ability to serve youth, Mrs. Howard.

Selena remembered how “Marion trained and taught [her] everything that [she] knows about the youth today.” When Selena’s name boomed through the sound system at the Mother-Daughter Tea, she was surprised and excited to be the winner of the “It Take a Village award” in her friend’s honor. She reflected on how close she was with Mrs. Howard- like best friends or sisters, if you will. Selena said “They couldn’t have given this award to a better person than myself,” because in essence, the honor goes to Mrs. Howard’s positive influence on those in the community and all the wisdom she shared with Selena. As a true, living legacy for York County youth we are grateful to recognize Selena Dickson’s impact on young people in our community.

Meet The Summer Interns at CA

June 16, 2016

CA Summer Intern

Crispus Attucks would like to introduce its new interns for Summer 2016.  You can get to know each individual intern below.  CA cannot wait to see what stellar work these interns will produce and looks forward to seeing how they impact the York community.

  Haley Benner, Communications and Development Intern


 Haley is a Junior, Global Affairs Major concentrating in Global Inequalities and Responses at George Mason University. She hopes to one day become a US Foreign Ambassador, but in the meantime would like to work and travel for a non-profit or international business.  Haley wanted to intern for Crispus Attucks to experience the inner-workings of a non-profit and help the community she grew up in.  A fun fact about Haley is that she just returned from studying abroad at the University of Oxford in England!

Ngoc Cao, Marketing and Special Events Intern


Ngoc is a Senior, Marketing/Supply Chain Management Major at the University of Maryland.  She plans to work in the marketing communication field after graduation.  Ngoc decided to intern for Crispus Attucks because she wanted to be a part of the community she lives in and to become a responsible citizen.  A fun fact about Ngoc is that in her free time she loves to write blogs, draw, and volunteer in the community!


Alison Houghton, Social Media and Public Relations Intern


  Ali is a Senior, Journalism Major with a concentration in Non-profit Communications at Rider University.  After college she hopes to land a job with a non-profit working as a social media and special events coordinator.  Ali wanted to intern for CA because she loves the work that Crispus Attucks has done for the community and continues to do! She is so excited to be a part of the legacy of great things happening here at CA.  A fun fact about Ali is that she has traveled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in just one day!

Melany Ann Lozada, Community Events Intern


Melany is a Senior, Communication Studies Major with a Minor in Entrepreneurship at Millersville University.  After college she wants to help organizations promote and market their new brands as well as plan events.  Melany chose to intern at Crispus Attucks because she has seen how much CA has done for the community and feels that it is now her turn to give back to her hometown with the skills she has learned.  A fun fact about Melany is that she loves taco salad and movies!


If you would like to contribute your skills and knowledge to change York check out our Internships for 2016-2017 here.


CAELC Welcomes New Director

June 16, 2016

New Face, Same Passion at the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center in York


With a wide smile and welcoming laugh, Juanita Cammon’s first impression easily showcases how she’s been successful working with families for more than 20 years. On June 6, Juanita started as the Center Director at the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center.

Although she’ll be a new face at the ELC, she has always shared in Crispus Attucks’ passion for community enhancement and the value of education.

Working for the Community

Her longstanding work in the early education field has given her skills in leadership, program development, and service to families. Her journey began with a full scholarship to Fordham University in Bronx, NY. After graduating with her Master’s in Education, she worked at Brooklyn Headstart. There she was wooed by opportunities for parent engagement, improving learning environments, and connecting teaching curriculum to the school setting.

Her first love was education, but as she grew in experience she learned that her true love was community.

Through her years in Washington, DC, Juanita’s profession gave her the bigger picture of a holistic learning. She worked with organizations that helped her see the connection between educational success and the factors outside of the class that can affect achievement. Overcome by her passion for the industry, she shared her insight with the next generation of instructors as an adjunct professor at the College of New Rochelle.

Locally, she’s worked as the Director of the York Hospital Early Care and Learning Program for the past seven years.

Get to Know Juanita

Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center Hires New Director

New ELC Director meets teachers and children.

“My parents were my inspiration. My dad was a pastor and I was an observer. I remember seeing their zest for life. They had such a love for others and family.” From her parents’ example she has created an uplifting life for herself and those around her.

Juanita holds many roles in the community. She is a mother and grandmother. She has been in ministry for more than 35 years and is the pastor of REBORN Fellowship, serving out of Colonial Manor. When she isn’t guiding future leaders, she enjoys poetry and writing. She is a humble and introverted person, but if you can get her to talk about herself you might learn of her love for gospel, R&B, and jazz music.

Juanita said she decided to join the Heart of Change because she’s “always been involved in community engagement. And Crispus Attucks makes a difference in individual lives. It’s all about the community here. The difference is something the people can feel and it’s tangible- the community can see the change.”

We are excited to have her leadership benefit this valuable program.  Please help us welcome Juanita by introducing yourself when you see her on campus.


  • South Side Steppers perform at United Way’s Day of Caring June 2014 South Side Steppers perform at United Way’s Day of Caring June 2014

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