Danforth Students Organize Peace Parade, Food Drive to Benefit Community

     Published on 12/10/15   Tagged under:    District News    Danforth Magnet School   

Students at Danforth Middle School came together to host “Safe Streets for School,” a peace parade to allow them to make a statement against the violence affecting the City of Syracuse and specifically, the neighborhood around their school. 

The event was prompted by the six shootings that happened in only three days, including one that occurred less than a block from school and just minutes after dismissal. The constant and unavoidable violence is what English teacher Jodi Ackermann said helped her realize that it was past time to speak out.
“The desensitization to the violence that surrounds our students is concerning,” she explained. “Bringing awareness and sharing thoughts and concerns about the violence in our neighborhood is the only way to make our students realize this should not be tolerated.”
Students readily agreed with Ms. Ackermann’s idea for a peace walk, with Van Duyn Elementary students taking part as well. “Some people are scared to take action,” eighth grader Peaches Marks explained. “They don’t want to become a target for violence. But it’s important that we walk because we want to make everyone aware of the violence here. We need to come together to make a change.”
Leading up to the “Safe Streets for School” day, students learned about how to organize a rally, what it takes to host a peaceful demonstration and more. In art class, they created banners calling for safe streets.
Students even prepared to walk in silence, to show respect for those who have died as a result of violence. “I hope our walk helps people realize that violence is not a good thing,” Adir Lawrence explained. “Violence is contagious, and we need to find a cure. Let’s hope this helps!”
On the day of the peace parade, community leaders visited the school to speak with students about the importance of engaging in peaceful behaviors. Guest speakers included NewsChannel 9 anchor Jennifer Sanders, who actively works with children and teens through the Syracuse City School District mentoring program; Clifford Ryan of OG’s Against Violence, a movement to decrease violence, unite the community and bring awareness to the issue of youth violence by engaging in community walks all over the city; and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
As students exited the school building and marched for peace through the neighborhood surrounding it, they reflected on the impact their action could have.
“I hope this will be a message to people in crime,” Jean Jatungimana said. “There’s no reason for violence, especially so close to schools. It’s not safe, and it’s not right. Our peace parade should have a great impact on our community, because people are standing with us and are standing up for what’s right.”
Thank you to everyone who united with our students and staff in their efforts to create a safer environment for our schools!