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Mizzou News, A Voice for the Voiceless, Perspectives Razia Hutchins Has Made it Her Mission to End Violence


Published September 6, 2015 (source)
Story by Kelsey Allen
Photos by Shane Epping and courtesy Perspectives Charter Schools

Razia Hutchins on the steps of Jesse Hall making a peace sign with her right hand.

Razia Hutchins, a freshman communication major at Mizzou, has organized and led peace marches in Chicago. She plans to focus on political communication in school and then return to Chicago to continue promoting peace.

Razia Hutchins spent too much time worrying which of her friends wouldn’t be in class the next day, having succumbed to the gun violence that was prevalent in their South Side Chicago neighborhood.

So the then-sophomore at Perspectives Charter School decided to do something about it.

“My peers felt like they didn’t have a future, like their lives would soon be taken because of gun violence, so what was the point of dreaming,” says Hutchins, now a freshman communication major at Mizzou.

Leading a Movement

Frustrated and scared, Hutchins approached her principal, Angela Brooks-Rallins, with an idea: She wanted to bring all of Chicago’s high school students together to march down the streets for peace. “I wanted to go Malcolm X, but she wanted to go Dr. King,” Hutchins says about the conversation.

With Brooks-Rallins’ guidance, Hutchins focused her goal, applied for the right permits and, in 2013, organized the first I Am for Peace march. Her message: “Don’t be a victim. Be a voice.”

At first, some people doubted a march could change attitudes. But 500 students attended the first event, and in 2015, more than 3,000 students and community members, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, participated. The march is also the subject of a 30-minute documentary, I Am for Peace, which follows Hutchins and classmates as they plan the now-annual happening.

“People saw this as the start of something that can save lives,” Hutchins says. “A lot of people told me the movement had a positive influence on them.”

Tiger Mentor, Celebrity Peers

Through Emanuel’s involvement in the march, Hutchins met Tarrah Cooper, BJ ’08, the mayor’s press secretary. When Cooper heard Hutchins was planning to attend Mizzou in the fall, she quickly became Hutchins’ mentor.

“I was really impressed by her poise and her compassion,” Cooper says. “She wants to be an advocate for her generation, to be an activist for peace.”

“She’s an incredibly gifted and strategic leader.”
Cooper encouraged Hutchins to continue her activism at Mizzou and to get to know the challenges facing Columbia, her new community. Hutchins plans to continue her efforts at promoting peace and stopping violence. But she’s going to take Cooper’s advice to study hard while also taking time to enjoy the college experience. She’s excited to hang out with her brother, Romanus Hutchins, a sophomore physics major; attend Mizzou football games; and dig into her political communication classes.

“I’ve always been an activist,” says Hutchins, who has become a celebrity among young activists. She, along with stars such as Selena Gomez, Jennifer Hudson and Common, was featured on We Day, a one-day event celebrating young people who are taking action on social issues such as bullying, body image, mental illness and equality. ABC aired an hourlong broadcast of the event Aug. 21.

“Even if I can help change one person, it’ll have a domino effect.”

I Am For Peace Documentary

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

I Am For Peace shows how three Chicago high school students took lessons from the classroom to the streets to organize one of the largest student-led peace marches in the city’s modern-day history. On June 5, 2014, 2,000 middle– and high-school students from Perspectives’ five schools were joined by community activists, local elected officials, business leaders and more than 30 media outlets for the I Am For Peace march and rally to stand up against violence in too many of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Perspectives Goes Back-to-School for 2015-2016 School Year


Monday, August 24, 2015

CHICAGO—Monday, August 24th, marked the first day of school at Perspectives Charter Schools! More than 2,000 students walked through our doors, committed to another year of studying and striving to live the 26 principles of the A Disciplined Life education model.

Our students are building on one of the most successful years in Perspectives' history. Once again, 100% of our graduates were accepted to college, earning more than $19 million in scholarships.

“We are excited for the school year here at Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus in the South Loop,” said Principal Stephen Todd. “We have high expectations of our students in both academic and social-emotional learning and we know that adhering to the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life education model will make us strong in both respects.”

At Perspectives, students learn to be socially aware and academically prepared through the A Disciplined Life social emotional learning education model, which uses 26 principles to help students develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and tools for productivity.

“At Perspectives Middle Academy in Auburn Gresham, we are excited for the new school year because we will continue to build on our successes in math, reading and writing achievements,” said Principal Sauda Porter. “Our teachers are tireless advocates for our students and they use A Disciplined Life to support every part of the learning day.”

”Our students at Perspectives High School of Technology in Auburn Gresham are ready to learn and master 21st century skills,” said Principal Eron Powell. “They’ve got minds on Adobe Creative Suite with an eye toward graduating high school with a certification in-hand that can be used immediately in college and beyond.”

”At Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy in Bronzeville, we are changing up the education landscape with the theme of ‘River Changing’,” said Principal Brandy Woodard. “We’re kicking off the year with a barbecue and outdoor games to get our Wolfpack family off to a good start while also honoring the principle of ‘love yourself’ of A Disciplined Life.”

”We are excited to announce that we will open our doors to a new Perspectives Campus in the Fall of 2016 on 85th and the Dan Ryan Expressway at 8522 S. Lafayette,” said Chief Executive Officer Rhonda Hopps. “We expect to break ground on the new building this Fall and open our doors of A Disciplined Life to a broader segment of Chicago’s families and youth.”

Perspectives Students Attend Notre Dame Engineering Summer Camp


Thanks to the generous support of the Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ISASCE), several students from Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus attended the 2015 summer edition of the University of Notre Dame's Introduction to Engineering Program (IEP).

Applications were accepted from minority students interested in participating in a two-week summer Introduction to Engineering Program at the University of Notre Dame.

The program is designed to provide high school students with a broad exposure to the profession of engineering and to motivate those who possess an interest in pursuing a career in this challenging field.

According to the IEP website:

The College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame would like to introduce you to the world of opportunities available in engineering. Give us just two weeks of the summer between your junior and senior years in high school, and we'll give you an introduction to engineering that includes:
    • A taste of college life
    • A chance to visit our campus and meet the faculty of the College of Engineering
    • An update on career opportunities in engineering
    • A look at the many facets of engineering
    • An overview of the elements of engineering design and computer programming
    • A tour of our state-of-the-art computer facilities
    • A chance to meet professional engineers

Photos courtesy of IEP at the University of Notre Dame.

Peace Challenge Videos by I Am For Peace Student Leaders


Perspectives students and staff are completing the #PeaceChallenge -- hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC -- with these short video response to the following question, 'Why I Am For Peace?'

Between August 24, 2015 and September 21, 2015, a new video will be released on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to join us in celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, September 21, 2015.

Use the hashtags #PeaceChallenge and #IAmForPeace to join the conversation and to submit your own response.

"I Am For Peace because _______________?"

Our Perspectives, Lundbeck Gives College Care Packages to Perspectives Students


The Perspectives Alumni Achievement Network (PAAN) together with Lundbeck US Medical Affairs partnered to send off the Class of 2015 graduates of Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy with college care backpacks full of goodies and essential school supplies.

Show Gratitude is one of the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life. The Class of 2015 is an exemplar of gratitude for Lundbeck's generous college care packages.

#ShowGratitude is one of the principles of #ADisciplinedLife -- Class of 2015 is an exemplar of gratitude for Lundbeck's generous college care packages.

Posted by Perspectives Charter Schools on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

ABC & We Day, We the Youth: Razia & Maurice


Wednesday, August 15, 2015 (source)

"Together We Change the World"

Watch the We Day broadcast, August 21, 2015,
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 PM CT on ABC!

Join host Selena Gomez and a star-studded lineup of inspirational young change-makers, chart-topping performers and iconic celebrities in the greatest celebration of social change America has ever seen!

Perspectives alumni Razia and Maurice will be featured prominently in the episode as young ethical leaders who lead the "I Am For Peace" global movement.

Use the hashtags #WeDay and #IAmForPeace to engage in the conversation via your social networks.

These teens turned a neighborhood march for peace into an annual global event

A few years ago, Chicago-native Razia Hutchins found herself in a class discussing the recent shooting death of a local teen after a high school basketball game. Unfortunately, stories like this were all too common and most people just accepted it as simply the way things were, but not Razia.

Razia wanted change to come to her community. So, she came up with the idea for a neighborhood peace march, and the I Am For Peace movement was born.

Teaming up with her best friend Maurice Young, the two rallied people across Chicago together, and the march has since grown from 100 people in its first year to 2500 this year! So far, the movement has been celebrated in 26 schools, 10 cities, and three countries.

For their incredible community work, Allstate presented them with a $10,000 scholarship this year at We Day! These two friends are leading an unstoppable force for good, and it was so awesome catching up with them backstage.

Watch this sneak peek of them at We Day featuring Common!

Why is it so important for you both to be a positive force in your community?

Razia: It’s important for us to give back to our communities because we grew up on the south side of Chicago. The culture is just so rich and it has built us. The only thing we can do is try to give back and help our community.

Maurice: It’s a way to be the change that you want to see happening in the world.

What's your advice for another teen who might want to follow in your footsteps and give back in a big way?

Razia: Don’t be a victim—be a voice. If you see something that’s not going right in your community just stand up. Always speak up and don’t let one person or a group of people try to take you off track.

Who are some people that inspire you?

Razia: Everyone who has had a part in just sticking up for what they believe in, whether they played a big role or a little role. They have taught me something.

Maurice: J. Cole and Martin Luther King Jr.

Favorite read or flick?

Razia: I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Big Girls Don’t Cry by Rebecca Traister

Maurice: Pay it Forward

Our Perspectives, 25 Students, Two Teachers and First Annual Perspectives Peace & Leadership Camp


August 14, 2015

Summers in Chicago are generally considered a time to relax, spend time with friends, read a book, and participate in outdoor activities. However, summer in Chicago for many youth and residents is a time of rising gun violence that affects their daily lives and relationships with loved ones.

Like so many of our cities, Chicago is being torn apart by violence. Talk to the students at any school on the South and West Sides of the city, and almost every single student will tell you that someone they love has been impacted by gun violence. Almost every single one knows someone who has been shot.

But our young people are also a part of the solution. "I Am For Peace" shares the inspiring story of how students at Perspectives Charter Schools are taking lessons from the classroom to the streets to organize one of the largest student-led peace marches in the city's modern-day history and create a lasting movement for peace.

The I Am For Peace movement spawned the first ever Perspectives Peace & Leadership Camps this summer. During a two-week period in July, 25 students, two teachers and community partners like Noah’s Arc Foundation dedicated themselves to finding peaceful solutions to the violence that affects our communities. They were challenged to think through the local issues they face and to juxtapose them against international scenarios playing out in other parts of the world.

“We are so proud of our students for their commitment to peace and current social issues,” said Perspectives Network Peace Ambassador Lyndsey Schwartz. “I am impressed at how our students interpret the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life and apply them to implement restorative justice to counter the violence.”

At Perspectives, students learn to be socially aware and academically prepared through the A Disciplined Life social emotional learning education model, which uses 26 principles to help students develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and tools for productivity.

In a brief video showcasing student remarks about why they are for peace, senior at Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus in the South Loop, Simone Williams said “We are all human, we all have feelings and that one person who is ready to pull the trigger might simply need that one person to root for them and be supportive.”

The students will continue their Peace & Leadership work throughout the 2015-2016 school year as ambassadors to their peers across the campus network.

Our Perspectives, Chicago Opera Theater for Teens Summer 2015


August 6, 2015
By Dylan Bandy, Stage Director of COT for Teens for Perspectives Charter Schools (source)

Well, COT for Teens Summer 2015 has come to an end. There were ups and downs along the way, bumps in the road, but persistence and jocundity won out. Some of the highlights from the latter half of the program include: working on a multimedia presentation of "Man in the Mirror," brushing up on Shakespearean dialogue and fight choreography with "Romeo and Juliet," and working on our big dance number "Bad."

As we sat and watched the final performance, Matt and I noticed a striking difference in the students. Since their interviews over two month ago, our teens have grown immensely. Most of them had never been on stage before, but within a few short weeks they learned their lines, memorized their music, and gave lively, enthusiastic performances.

The class favorite was "How Shall I See You Through My Tears" sung by a young woman named Kenisha. It's a gospel style song with a big chorus feel, and we made it our finale. Kenisha used to sing the song quietly, hiding behind a curtain, shielding herself from the perceived judgment. But in this final performance, she stood there brave and exposed, her arms at her sides, her chin raised, and her voice, full of emotion and sound, poured out from her like all the greats before her. Later she confessed to me: "I've been practicing every day!" I smiled. Maybe I cried a little. The summer flashed before my eyes--I couldn't believe it was over. She smiled... She knew she sounded good. And she felt good. We all did.

Thank you, COT for Teens Summer 2015.

Our Perspectives, AAR’s Support of Perspectives Goes Beyond Mentorship


August 11, 2015
By Dinai Yelverton, Digital Communications for AAR CORP.

A Disciplined Life Benefit 2015 for Perspectives Charter Schools
(L-R) Perspectives Student; David Storch; Tony Anderson, AAR Board Member; Queshawn Burnett at
Perspectives 18th Annual Benefit Gala (2015)

Queshawn Burnett, rising senior at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy, is currently interning under the leadership of Eric Young as a Distribution and C&E intern. C&E is a recently formed business unit under the Aviation Services umbrella which provides the material used at our MRO sites, as well as to third-party customers.

Last fall, Queshawn, along with nine other Perspectives students, participated in a mentorship program at AAR’s headquarters in Wood Dale, IL. For five weeks students were paired with mentors as they learned about AAR through job shadowing and one-on-ones. The students were given tools for success and were presented with tips on how to present themselves in professional settings. Queshawn enjoyed his experience here as a mentee so much that he applied his networking skills and landed a summer position in C&E as an extension of the fall program! AAR is participating in the Perspectives mentorship program again this fall in the hopes of inspiring and cultivating more young leaders like Queshawn.

Queshawn aims to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science and a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Queshawn’s last day in the office was August 14th before he headed back to begin his last year in high school. AAR continues to support our youth and the future of aviation.

More about Queshawn

Family Life: Oldest of eight (8)!

Extracurricular Involvement: Football (2012-2013), Baseball (2012-2015), Student Ambassador (2014-2016)

College Prospects: Purdue or Western Illinois University

Career Aspirations: To obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science, and a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. I am interested in aerodynamics. I love math and science, and I feel that aeronautical engineering intertwines these subjects. I became interested in aeronautical engineering after my first experience on an actual airplane, which made me curious as to how everything on a plane worked together to make it fly.

What do you hope to gain from this internship experience: I hope to gain experience working in a professional environment. As a scholar and future professional, it is important that I begin to develop the skills to be able to conduct professionally in the workforce.

Best advice received (related to school, college, career, etc.):
  • School: Never stop learning; the key to success is only accomplished by learning.
  • School: If you don't know something, ask questions.
  • Career: Networking is the key in all careers; knowing different people who you can benefit from is always a plus.
  • Life: Stay humble, be smart, and learn from your mistakes.
Professional Role Models:
Eric Young is my role model because he knows what he wants to see happen in the future. I believe that Eric is all about growth and exceeding goals. He teaches me how to become better at what I do. I have been benefiting from Eric’s advice. “Even if you don’t know something, the one important thing you can do is ask a question.”

David Martinsek is also a role model because he is all about generating different ideas and how to solve problems. I have seen David come up with some wonderful ideas that have solved many problems with the groups that he is involved in. He is the most intelligent person that I have ever met. I believe that he knows a little about everything. There is not one question that he doesn’t have an answer to.

Learn more about the Perspectives Internship program that matches up every Perspectives junior with a professional internship in and around Chicagoland.

Media Advisory, Perspectives is a Community Partner for Euro Classic Basketball Game



Breakthrough Urban Ministries & Euroleague Rivals from Israel and Italy
Join Forces to Create Give Back Ticket Program to battle violence

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Armani Exchange Milan on October 1, 2015 at the United Center

August 10, 2015 (CHICAGO) – For the first time ever, two Euroleague professional basketball teams will play on North American soil. On October 1, 2015, 7 p.m. Chicago’s United Center will host the Euro Classic between six-time European Champs Maccabi Tel Aviv and three-time Euro champs Armani Exchange Milan. Both teams have created a “Give Back Ticket Program to battle violence”-- over 4,000 tickets, from the 200 and 300 levels at the United Center, are being offered at a special face value price of $25.00. These group tickets are available through the United Center Box Office, group sales or through Ticketmaster by using offer code “giveback”. People are encouraged to buy these tickets for themselves or donate to allow Chicago students, who otherwise would not be able to afford the price of admission, to enjoy a “World Cup” experience at the home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

Half the proceeds from this program will go towards Breakthrough’s Coaches United Against Violence Program. Coaches United Against Violence has 18 public league coaches that work with students in the community and in schools to learn how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

“Maccabi Tel Aviv and Armani Milan are proud to give back to Chicago, to battle violence issues that are truly a global problem,” said both teams in a joint statement. “Both our franchises have benefited from great Chicago-grown players. Chicago is a world class city that we care deeply about and with this program, we hope to make an impact in the community.”

“The initial purpose of CUAV was to gather a small group of influencers and take a collective stand against a problem many of our student athletes and their friends face in communities across Chicago,” said Bill Curry, Chief Program Officer of Breakthrough Youth Network. “We appreciate the interest and support from Euroleague powerhouses Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Armani Milan. It is fitting because we live in a global community. Our hope is that the lessons we learn here about leadership, unity and conflict resolution will become as popular and universal as the game we all love to play. It is possible! Sports have that type of influence.”

Three days after the teams play in Chicago, they will move onto a second game on Oct. 4 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Featured players in the games include former LA Laker and 2-time NBA Champion Jordan Farmar and former All Big 10 performers Trevor Mbakwe and Robbie Hummel. Some of Maccabi’s former players who came out of the Chicago area are Anthony Parker, Will Bynum, Jeremy Pargo, Rashard Griffith and Deon Thomas. Armani Milan enjoyed the play of David Moss, Mason Rocca and Kiwane Garris.

Maccabi has chosen Perspectives Charter Schools (pcsedu.org) and Positive Coaching Alliance (positivecoach.org) as additional community partners based on their dedication to Chicago’s youth and anti-violence initiatives.


Breakthrough Urban Ministries (Breakthrough) is a community-development organization located in East Garfield Park, on Chicago’s west side. Each year, Breakthrough serves over 3,300 youth, families, and homeless adults through a number of youth development initiatives, an early childhood education program, a client-choice food pantry, two homeless shelters, and a variety of critical wraparound services. Breakthrough is rooted in its mission to partner with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills, and open doors of opportunity. For more information, visit www.breakthrough.org.