City students hold peace event
Students at Digital Harbor High School want to make a change in Baltimore.
Melissa McDonald's freshman English class spent months researching the causes of violence and discussing solutions, and on Wednesday morning held a peace summit called "Let Us Make a Change" attended by guests that included schools CEO Andres Alonso, State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein, and their peers.
"Our solutions may not be the best, but we know from our experiences that they will help," said student Doneshia Duppins.
Among their proposals: anger management, tutoring, summer sports leagues and - a trip to Six Flags. Hey, it's worth a shot. They filmed "public service announcements" to make their case.
"You can expand who you are by expanding what you know," one student said in a video pitch for expanded tutoring programs.
At one point in the assembly, Philip J. Leaf, of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, asked those in the auditorium to stand up if they had lost a relative or friend to violence. More than a quarter of the students stood up.
"Hurt people, hurt people," Leaf said.
Alonso said the most difficult part of leading the city school system is dealing with violence and its effect on students and their families.
"I feel strongly that the answer ultimately starts with the people in this room," he said. "You are the future of the city, and you need to own your actions every day."
The students said they are willing to take on that role. Fourteen-year-old Taliyah Lewis, who wants to study business administration, wrote in her paper that the problems couldn't be solved by "people coming to schools and telling kids to go the right road. To help kids stay out of gangs, us as a whole can encourage all kids to go the right road. Then, maybe they will have the confidence to stay on track."
"We can have peace in the world, but first we have to change the mindset," added classmate Seyquan Davis.