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Education Post, I Came, I Saw and I Marched

06-Jul-2015

By Nekaybaw Clark | July 6, 2015 (source)

My generation believes we can make favorable and lasting changes that will make our society more safe and fair.

At the I Am For Peace march that took place this month, 3,000 Perspectives Charter Schools students, family members, staff and community leaders held one of the largest student-led peace events in the city’s history. We were joined by schools, churches and businesses throughout the city, suburbs and America. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also came to the march.

Before the march I often heard, even from close friends and family, that marching for peace was a waste of time.

“It won’t change anything,” they said.

My experience told me otherwise. The event inspired me and I saw thousands of people motivated to march with us in support of our cause.

It was a blessing to participate in something so special, so real and so positive. Through “I Am For Peace” and the “A Disciplined Life” educational model at Perspectives, I feel empowered to voice my opinion and to think about possible solutions to our most pressing challenges in Chicago. I feel strongly that the voices of young people like me should be considered when it comes to making our communities safe and more peaceful.

“A Disciplined Life” is a set of life skills that teach me to be a good person and a dedicated student. “Demonstrate honesty and integrity,” and “take initiative” are two of the 26 principles that teach us to be ethical leaders. These principles help us develop positive self-worth, healthy relationships and the tools to be productive. They inspired my peers to develop the “I Am For Peace” movement and we know it will continue to inspire even more youth to cultivate peace in our communities.

I want to continue the good work already set out by my friends who will be going to college in the fall. During my senior year at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy, I will continue to be an ambassador for peace. I will carry the momentum of the peace march into the summer where I will attend a peace camp hosted by Perspectives to learn more about becoming an even stronger activist for peace. I want to be a positive role model to my younger peers who will lead the next phase of “I Am For Peace.”

I am proud to be a part of a student-led movement that aims to make positive changes for all of us. “I Am For Peace” is real and it puts a lot of my schoolwork and daily activities into perspective.

Marching with my peers was amazing. It was great to feel so much positive energy and love in our city that has become known for violence. It felt good and it felt right to do something positive in public with my peers. We are the future.

Nekaybaw Clark is a senior at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy and is a student peace ambassador at her campus.

TeacherAde, Long Live A Disciplined Life

02-Jul-2015

By Daniel Tortelli, Interventionist at Perspectives Middle Academy and Amate House Volunteer

As my time at Perspectives Middle Academy (PMA) and Perspectives has drawn to a close, I’d like to reflect on a few moments that have stuck out since my last post. Each could certainly deserve an entire post of their own, however, time is against us. Even if briefly, I hope I can open a few more doors one last time to show you the awesomeness of the kids we teach and those that promote their growth.

I’m not sure if each story directly correlates with one of the 26 principles or a handful of them but, either way, I hope you enjoy this glimpse into some truly beautiful lasting moments...

Quadratics through the years...
About a month ago, the afterschool programs were winding down with only a few weeks left. On one afternoon, I found myself in Homework Club (HC) packing up all the computers in their cart while the kids were talking. Normally I would be grumpy the scholars hadn’t packed them up themselves, but on this particular evening, I was a happy observer.

I had two 6th graders, one 7th grader, two 8th graders and two freshmen from the High School of Technology (Tech). The latter two had come in to visit me and pick up younger siblings. Such is the usual crowd on a day specifically advertised “7th grade only HC”, but they were all well behaved so it was hard to turn them away.

At one point, someone began the discussion of “whose grade” and “whose work-load” was harder. It was humorous at first, hearing the 6th graders compare their no-homework to that of the freshmen complaining about all their papers and readings to have completed. Finally, one of the 8th graders had brought up how they thought their math couldn’t get any worse.

At this point it was almost 5:30 p.m. and HC, along with the rest of the after school programs, was wrapping up for the day. In that moment when I was putting those computers away, I noticed a silence filled the room where laughable chatter had been moments before. I turned around to see the two sixth graders sitting on desks staring at the board, where the others of my group went back and forth to the whiteboard doing quadratic equations.

“Are you really doing that right now?” I asked laughing.

“Yes!” said one of the freshmen.

“I’m showing her I can do her problems and I’m in a grade lower!” shouted an 8th grader. And he wasn’t far off.

At that point, I realized two things. The first: I’m probably not getting out of here on time. The second: They’re pushing themselves and each other. They’re learning. I nor anybody else are urging them to do so. Across three different grades they challenged themselves, and pushed each other until they all understood (or at least came close to) the problem, leaving their HC advisor standing aside speechless.

I didn’t leave the building until 6 that day, and had never been happier to do so.



A teaching from teens...
About 2 months ago, I had a Community Night for my young adult volunteer program, Amate House. We have these once a week to hear from different speakers presenting on various topics from faith to social issues and everything inbetween. On this particular night our speakers weren’t professors of education, members of legal clinics, Father Pfleger, or even the Archbishop of Chicago. No, instead we had two 8th graders from Perspectives Middle Academy. We’ll call them Kim and Britt.

The topic: stand up for peace.

For almost an hour, Kim and Britt showed Amate everything there was behind Perspective’s peace movement and the “I Am For Peace” documentary. They took turns speaking, posed questions to us, and even waited like a patient teacher until someone offered up a possible solution to the violence in our streets. It was really inspiring, and I loved seeing how blown away my fellow volunteers were from their presentation skills and charisma:

“Oh my gosh, they are so mature! I wish I was that well composed at that age!”

“Now I want to go to the Peace March!”

I’ve worked with these girls nearly every week for two years and I knew they were great, but it still caught me off guard seeing how they could capture and hold an audience and inspire others, no matter the age. Even after, they took questions and met one-on-one with other volunteers. They were celebrities!

Oh yeah, staff and volunteers from Amate absolutely loved marching…



Blast from the past…
With only three or four weeks left of school, I found myself revisited by a scholar of mine from last year, whom we’ll call Kenny. Now upstairs in Tech, Kenny was one of my usual scholars for most of last school year, and his capacity to show gratitude is one of the biggest reasons I ever started blogging. He is genuinely one of the sweetest kids you’ll meet, but his goofy antics have often distracted him. Because of this, his grades, particularly in pre-algebra, were always on the fence. Although he often drove me up the wall, I really felt a connection to Kenny.

On this particular day, Kenny seemed a bit distant. He’d told me a few days earlier that his grades had been iffy, so when I asked him again how the end of his freshman year at Tech was going, he looked away saying, “not too good.” He then told me that, once again, math was giving him a hard time: he was failing. “Kenny, I have Homework Club (HC) after school for the next few weeks. Lately my crowds have been small, so come after school and maybe we can wrap this year’s grades on a positive note.”

I would see him intermittently outside of school on the way to my car, and would make a point to remind him I was there if he needed it. “Ahh, I forgot” he’d say shyly.

With two days left in HC, and really only a week left of classes, I see Kenny coming to me in the middle school’s hallways. “Can you help me with my practice test?” Way to wait til the last minute, I thought.

“Alright,” I said. “When’s the real test?”

“Tomorrow.”

I could have killed him. “Kenny! I told you 3 weeks ago to start coming to me for help! You’re coming to me NOW?!” No sooner had the words left my mouth than I had one of those “a-ha” moments I think most first time teachers, parents, or really any adults dealing with kids go through: that was 100% me when I was younger.

We worked for a good hour or so. Having struggled with that same math when I was in highschool, I left feeling a bit nervous about how much I was able to help.

Again, I didn’t see him for almost a week after that.

On the last day for students, in between homeroom parties and award ceremonies, I was sad to think I’d be saying bye to so many kids I’d worked with and gotten to know the past few years. It so happens that one of those kids I’d be most saddened to leave was standing at the exit as I left that day.

“Hey, Mr. Tortelli!” Kenny’s face did one of those immediate happy-to-sad transitions. “This is it, huh?”
“Yeah, bud. Here, walk with me to my car.” I had a handful of my desk belongings and a bag full of snacks from a classroom party. “Carry this for me, would ya?”

As we walked, I asked him how his test went. “I don’t know what I got on it, but my final overall grade was passing.”

“Way to go, man. I’m proud of you!”

We reached my car shortly after. “Thank you, Mr. Tortelli” and he shook my hand.

“Anytime, Kenny.” He helped me pack my car.

I remembered I had that bag of snacks from the party. Kenny loves this junk, I thought. I reached in to grab Cheetos for him, and before I even turned around, Kenny had me in a bear hug. “Thanks for everything!”

Finally, I’d like to thank the staff. Although I can only speak of both the teachers I grew up with and those I’ve worked with in my short professional career, it's unlikely that there's a harder working, tough loving and more together-orientated group of educators than there is at Perspectives Middle Academy. And it’s not just them: from the paraprofessionals, assistants, counselors to the discipline team, the staff at PMA has inspired me over the past two years. I can’t tell you how much time and effort I see go into every aspect of these kids lives: giving second, third or more chances to troubled kids, coming in early or leaving late to give extra help, pushing scholars in class to think deeper, and just never giving up on them when others may look away. Although I certainly have a ways to go with my own work ethic, it’s been so influential being a part of the passion, care and dedication that this staff has presented. These kids will always remember the love you’ve poured into their success, as will this volunteer.

Thank you for everything, Perspectives. Long live A Disciplined Life!

-Danny Tortelli

This is the final installment of the TeacherAde blog. TeacherAde was a blog written by and about the day-to-day life of an interventionist and Amate House volunteer living the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life at Perspectives Middle Academy.

Class of 2015, On Track to Have 100% of Graduates Accepted to College

01-Jul-2015

July 1, 2015

We have concluded another great school year at Perspectives. Once again this year, we are on track to have 100% of our graduates accepted to college!

Our graduates have also earned an unprecedented amount of merit-based scholarships, to the tune of $18 million dollars.

Below you will find seven photo albums from each of the senior graduation ceremonies and 8th grade commencement ceremonies.

We join our proud parents and family members in congratulating the Class of 2015 and Class of 2019 for their accomplishments.













WICU, The U | InspiringU, March For Peace

10-Jun-2015



Today we learn the power of student activism as we visit with a student led movement for peace.

Medium Bright, Meet the School That Believes in Discipline

10-Jun-2015

Children must be taught principles like justice and fairness to inculcate values they can use in life.

June 10, 2015
By Diana Shulla-Cose (source)

Brian Foglia’s article “Meet The School That Hates Rules” accurately identifies many of the problems with “traditional” education. Too many schools use a one-size-fits-all approach to education and rely on punishments and rewards, instead of helping students learn to manage their behavior. But I believe there is a middle ground between authoritarian instruction and hating rules. There are skills, habits, and mindsets that lead to success — and they can be taught.

Teaching students those skills doesn’t control students; rather, it empowers them. When schools do it right, the results are nothing short of inspiring.

On June 5, 2014, more than 2,000 students, family members, and community leaders gathered in a field on the South Side of Chicago. The field was once the site of the Harold Ickes Homes, part of Chicago’s notorious, miles-long State Street Corridor of public housing projects. On that day, however, it was the gathering point for one of the largest student-led peace marches in Chicago history.

“Who’s for peace? I’m for peace!” “Grades up, guns down!” The students’ chants echoed down State Street, as news choppers hovered above to capture the footage for the morning newscasts. On television screens throughout Chicago, a student named Janeya shared the simple message of their “I Am For Peace” campaign: “If we are going to stop violence in Chicago, we need everybody to care.”

She also shared what she saw as part of the solution — an education model called A Disciplined Life.

Twenty years ago, Kim Day and I created the A Disciplined Life education model while working as public school teachers in Chicago. We knew our students could master rigorous academic content, and also that they craved high expectations, structure, and love. We set out to foster intellectually curious ethical leaders.

We created a model using what we called the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life. These principles are designed to develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and tools for productivity.

They form the basis of Perspectives Charter Schools, a network of 6th-12th grade schools we founded in Chicago. Unlike the “democratic” schools that Foglia discusses, we require students to attend mandatory classes. We do this because we believe that a model that combines rigorous academics with a focus on social-emotional learning will empower our students to succeed in college and beyond.

For 180 minutes each week, Perspectives students attend A Disciplined Life class, where they study the principles and learn how they can apply them to their lives in school, at home, and in their communities. These classes aren’t about rules, but a framework that helps students develop their social and emotional skills. In these classes, students examine principles such as “show compassion”, “think critically and be inquisitive”, “show gratitude”, “be reliable” and “solve conflicts peacefully”. They engage in critical conversations using a protocol we have developed to help students consider multiple perspectives, engage in entrepreneurial thinking and create action plans.

By the time they graduate high school, our students have spent hundreds of hours reflecting on how to become ethical leaders — and learning concrete skills and strategies that will help them be successful.

“A Disciplined Life is a rare and elegant framework that clarifies for students and educators the skills and dispositions that must accompany rigorous teaching and learning,” said Dr. Timothy F.C. Knowles, director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. “In essence, A Disciplined Life is designed to build the kind of people we need to strengthen our economy, democracy and social fabric.”

It was in an A Disciplined Life class where the “I Am For Peace” campaign began. A sophomore named Razia, who has become a leader in the movement, was taking part in a conversation in A Disciplined Life class about a boy who had been shot after a basketball game in Chicago. “I realized that many people don’t care about violence unless it really hits home for them,” Razia says. She and her peers worked on finding a way for their voice to be heard — a way to get everybody to care.

The peace march on June 5 was just the beginning. At the same time, the students raised more than $35,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to create a documentary to tell their story of how A Disciplined Life can create a more peaceful Chicago. The “I Am For Peace” documentary premiered last fall, and now Perspectives students are sharing it across Chicago and beyond, from schools to corporations and even on television.

Our students’ peace work is playing out on the streets as well. Recently, one of our school leaders noticed that some of our students were engaged in an ongoing feud with students from a nearby school. There were fights on trains, in parks, and at bus stops. Rather than suspend the students or kick them out of school, she brought the students from both schools together to have a dialogue about their actions and determine how they were going to restore justice together. These peace talks were merged with some ball playing and video gaming and after three sessions together the feuds turned these young men into friends.

It worked. Not only has the fighting stopped, the young men from both schools are working together on our next peace march. On June 5th, 2015, they will be joined by more than 10 schools and organizations, 5 other cities, and 3 foreign countries marching for peace with them.

Our students come from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago. Despite facing all of the challenges associated with growing up in poverty, our students graduate from high school, enroll in college, and persist towards graduation at rates above the national average for all students.

We are very intentional about teaching our 26 principles of A Disciplined Life because we believe that truly successful people who lead meaningful lives strive daily to model these attributes. As Perspectives graduate Ronald Brown puts it: “I pushed back on these 26 principles at first. Today, I can honestly say they helped me become a man because I was taught to study them just like I studied algebra and science.”

In the “I Am For Peace” documentary, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talks about the power of models like A Disciplined Life. “What Perspectives has worked extraordinarily hard on,” he said, “is making sure that students are taught the skills, the habits and mind, and the habits of behavior they need to be successful in school, in the classroom, on the streets, in the communities, and ultimately in life.”

As Foglia’s article notes, “democratic” schools are not for everyone. Students who have grown accustomed to authoritarian backgrounds might lash out in the face of so much freedom. What is so powerful about social-emotional learning models like A Disciplined Life is that they are for everyone. In Chicago, we have CEOs and vice presidents studying our 26 principles of A Disciplined Life alongside our students and staff.

The same skills that are helping our students navigate their lives are helping CEOs navigate the corporate world. Those skills will empower our students to become successful in whatever they choose to do — which is the ultimate freedom.

Bright is made possible by funding from the New Venture Fund, and is supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bright retains editorial independence.

CICS News & Events, Charter School Student Moves Thousands In Chicago With “I Am For Peace” March

05-Jun-2015

June 5, 2015
By Chicago International Charter Schools (source)

Razia H. is an alumna of CICS Washington Park and currently attends Perspectives Charter School. During her time at Perspectives, Razia helped to organize a peace march led by students who are passionate about stopping violence in Chicago. This march is the subject of the documentary “I Am for Peace” and will be featured on the National WE Day Broadcast, a program to air on ABC in August 2015. In this article, Razia talks about her motivations for working on the march and how charters gave her a positive foundation for change.

I recently spoke at WE Day, which is a celebration of all the students who participated in community service all year. I worked on a peace march at Perspectives Charter School, which has gone on for the past two years.

Planning the march started a few years ago when some of my classmates and I were talking about a young man who had been killed after a basketball game in Chicago. We realized that this kind of violence was not unusual, and it was so hurtful to have that expected in our community. As students, we knew we had to get schools together to say “stop the violence” because in order to impact others, you have to impact the mindset of the people closest to you.

It was pretty difficult planning the march because we had to find out how to apply for permits and really get organized. A lot of people came out against this project, but that didn’t stop me. I’m the type of person that, when I set my mind to something, it’s going to get done.

In the first year, the march was just Perspectives students- about 500. The next year, people started hearing about what we were doing and loving it. That’s when people started reaching out and coming to march with us. This year, we had 3,000 students, teachers, volunteers, and community members. As part of WE Day, we’re going to be filming in June for a story on the march. The show will also be doing stories on other kids across the country who have been working to serve their communities. We’re excited to spread our message and tell people: don’t be a victim, be a voice.

Even though I’m graduating this year, I am not going to let go of this movement. It’s my baby, I can’t let it die! I’m going to University of Missouri in the fall, and I would even be interested in starting a similar initiative there.

I grew up in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, and went to CICS Washington Park from kindergarten to fifth grade. All of my brothers and cousins went to CICS Washington Park, too. A lot of people in that area might feel like our situation may never get better, growing up around all that violence. But really, education is key.

I really liked CICS Washington Park- it’s very family oriented and everyone feels at home. The rest of my family loved it too- my mom could always contact any staff if there was ever a problem, and I felt like I could go to anyone if I needed anything. That made it easy for me to voice my opinion. I also had a great teacher who I still keep in touch with, Ms. Beck, who now teaches for UNO Charter Schools. Ms. Beck did a unit on the Holocaust that taught me a lot about what it might have been like to experience that injustice.

After 5th grade I went to Perspectives Charter School. My brother had gone the year before me, and he loved the experience. Like CICS Washington Park, Perspectives felt like a family and made it easy for me to share my opinion. My former principal Dr. Rollins was a big inspiration for me, and a huge motivation later during the peace march. She was behind me 100% and helped me with the entire thing.

During my time at Perspectives, and working on the peace march, I’ve been able to meet a lot of people in corporations and foundations that are interested in what I’m doing. This has really shown me that being famous or being a celebrity isn’t everything—you can make change, be successful, and still wear a suit. When I go to University of Missouri, I want to double major in Communications and Business, and minor in Black Studies. Working in public relations for a nonprofit or business is my goal.

Overall I think that charter schools are hands-on. In my experience, staff take time to pull you aside and get to know you, ask if anything is wrong, and help you out. And I think you can’t get that experience anywhere else.

ABC7 Chicago, Youth for Peace Marchers Take Stand Against Violence

05-Jun-2015

June 5, 2015 (source)

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 2,000 Chicago students from middle and high schools marched 13 blocks Friday morning on the Near South Side to speak out against gun violence and stand up for peace.

The chanting youth were students from the Perspectives Charter Schools network. which organized the event. The Youth for Peace march started at 24th and South State streets, near the network's Joslin campus high school, and ended at 36th and Wabash Avenue, near Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy.

"We're tired of this senseless gun violence," said Razia Hutchins, a Perspectives student. "Don't be a victim. Choose to be a voice. Stand up and uplift each other instead of killing each other."

After the march, a Peace Jam was held at East 36th Street and South Wabash Avenue.

The event coincides with the first Chicago International Youth Peace Movement conference, which is being organized with a coalition of faith-based groups and individuals led by hip hop artist Jessica Disu.

Disu was recently chosen by Mayor Emanuel to lead the city's "Summer of Faith and Action" program.

Emanuel greeted students and delivered opening remarks.

"There is nothing that happens in our schools, our places of worship and our community groups. There is nothing on the streets of the city of Chicago that's more powerful than what's here," Emanuel said. "There is no gang banger. There is no gang, there are no guns stronger than the people here today."

The peace march and conference, which runs Friday and Sunday, comes after two violent weekends in Chicago. May has been the deadliest since 2012 with 46 murders. May had six more homicides than May 2014.

Last weekend, six people were killed and 24 injured. The weekend before that, Memorial Day weekend, saw 12 people killed, 43 injured.

Last year's march was one of the largest led by middle and high school students in the city.

"It's us peers standing up against other peers to say 'What you're doing is not right' and I think it's a much more powerful message when it's coming from our peers versus it coming from teachers and parents," said Janeya Cunningham, a student at Perspectives Charter School.

CBS Chicago, Students Lead Peace March On South Side

05-Jun-2015

June 5, 2015

CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 2,500 people, mostly kids, were marching from the South Loop to Bronzeville on Friday, demanding an end to the violence on the streets as students get ready to start their summer break. Wearing T-shirts proclaiming “I am for peace,” hundreds of students from all five Perspectives Charter Schools in Chicago marched from 24th and State streets to 36th Street and Wabash Avenue, a 1.5 mile walk between two of the charter school network’s South Side campuses.

Razia Hutchins, a senior, helped launch “I Am For Peace March” in 2013.

“I did it because my peers and I, we were just having conversations on whether we would see each other next school year, and they were like, ‘No, I feel like … my life is going to be taken over the summer, due to gun violence.’ It was just really sad,” she said.

One sixth grader said she was marching because she doesn’t feel safe walking on the street, and she wants the world to be peaceful.

Organizers said students from Evanston, Tennessee, and Georgia also were taking part in the march.

It’s the third year Perspectives students have organized a peace march ahead of summer break, to send a message they want to see less bloodshed on city streets.

“We are tired of the senseless gun violence, and we’re tired of going to our friends’ funerals, and we’re tired of not graduating with them,” Hutchins said.

She and two classmates are featured in a documentary “I Am For Peace,” about the student-led peace movement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was there to kick off the march, and praise the young people for their involvement. After the march, students gathered at Perspectives’ IIT/Math and Science Academy in Bronzeville, where they will hold a “peace jam,” featuring music, performances, and speeches from students and supporters.

“There’s nothing on the streets of Chicago that’s more powerful than what’s here. There is no gangbanger, there is no gang, and there are no guns that’s stronger than the people here today,” Emanuel said.

Organizers said similar events were planned for Friday in Haiti, South Africa, and Belgium – as well as in Ferguson, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, and Miami.

WBEZ, Morning Shift: CPS students march for peace

05-Jun-2015

June 5, 2015

I Am For Peace march



 Summer in Chicago unfortunately means a spike in violence and more specifically gun violence. With the bulk Chicago public schools set to close their doors for the summer comes worry about youth safety. So this morning students, parents, business leaders and local officials-including Mayor Emanuel-are participating in an event now in its 4th year called the I Am for Peace March. Janeya Cunningham just graduated from PerspectivesIIT Math & Science Academy and joins us live from the march.

Guest: Janeya Cunningham is a graduate of Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy.

Education Post, Be a Voice, Not a Victim, March for Peace With Chicago’s Youth

04-Jun-2015

June 4, 2015
By Janeya Cunningham (source)

I recently graduated from Perspectives Charter Schools, where we prepare for college with rigorous academics and once again this year, we are on track to have 100 percent of our graduates accepted to college.

But more important, at Perspectives we learn how to be good people, people with values. We learn how to be young, ethical leaders.

At Perspectives, we have a class, “A Disciplined Life,” in which we learn 26 principles such as compassion, wisdom, and conflict resolution. We learn to develop positive self-esteem, healthy relationships and the tools for productivity. It empowers us to stand up for what we believe in. It empowers us to stand up for peace.

Two years ago, we had a discussion in our disciplined life class about a boy who was shot and killed after a basketball game. I realized that many people didn’t care about violence unless it really hit home for them. If we are going to stop violence in Chicago, we need everybody to care. So we started the “I Am For Peace” movement to share how the principles we’ve adopted can bring peace to our communities.

We started with a peace march on June 5, 2014, with more than 2,000 students, families and community members marching down State Street.

We also raised more than $35,000 on Kickstarter to support an “I Am For Peace” documentary. The documentary features U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and award-winning performing artist Jennifer Hudson and helps show young people how they can bring peace to their communities.

I Am For Peace (2014) - Trailer from Perspectives Charter Schools on Vimeo.

We premiered the documentary last fall, and have been screening the film at schools, churches and other community organizations throughout 2015 to keep the movement alive. On May 28, the film made its broadcast television debut on Chicago’s PBS station WTTW 11.

What I have learned from this movement is that one voice can make a huge difference. What started as a comment in my disciplined life class has led to a movement with thousands of supporters.

We would love to work with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to brainstorm and implement solutions to bring peace to our city.

We invite him to include the voice of youth like ours so we can help think through possible solutions, like job creation, access to basic services, supporting and sustaining community centers with more adult mentors to provide support for teens, and so much more.

We need more young people joining together to stand for peace, and we need more young people learning the principles of “A Disciplined Life.”

There will be a “I Am For Peace” march on Friday, June 5. Participants will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the corners of 24th and State Streets.