"I Am For Peace" Documentary Inspires Viewers at First Televised Screening

"I Am For Peace" documentary about student-led peace movement inspires viewers at first televised screening followed by panel

CHICAGO, February 19, 2015 – The first televised screening of Perspectives Charter Schools; “I Am For Peace” documentary began with our students thanking the teachers, board members, and business leaders who supported their efforts to help create a more peaceful Chicago. But after the screening of “I Am for Peace,” our students were the ones being thanked for their leadership by adults and their peers, who implored them to “spread the peace.”

The 30-minute documentary and panel discussion were aired on WJYS from 7 to 8 p.m, live from Salem Baptist Church’s House of Hope. Addressing the panel, one man, who described himself as a 36-year-old student at Kennedy-King College, said the film brought him to tears and asked our students to come to Kennedy-King to share the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life. A Disciplined Life is a social-emotional learning model the students say inspired them to take initiative and speak out against senseless gun violence.

 “We had a discussion in our A Disciplined Life class about a boy who was shot and killed after a basketball game,” said Razia Hutchins, one of the students featured in the film. “I realized that many people don’t care about violence unless it really hits home for them. But if we are going to stop the violence in Chicago, we need everyone to care.” That discussion led to the creation of the “I Am For Peace” movement, which Razia says is designed to show how the principles of A Disciplined LIfe can help create a more peaceful Chicago. Last year’s march drew more than 2,000 students, community and business leaders and was covered by more than 30 media outlets.

Hutchins and fellow Perspectives students Janeya Cunningham and Maurice Young, co-producers of “I Am For Peace,” are all college-bound. Each vow to carry the peace movement and the 26 principles with them.

“We want younger people to step up and keep the legacy going,” said Cunningham, who told the audience of plans to hold 26 more screenings of the film before the next peace march on June 5. “We hope that everyone here today can come out and march with us.”

The students laid out a bold plan that includes groups from 10 schools in Chicago, five from other cities, and another three oversees organizing peace marches for the same day. “Today’s screening was absolutely remarkable,” said Perspectives president and co-founder Diana Shulla-Cose. “We are proud of all our students for their commitment to a bigger purpose than themselves--leading their communities for peace.”

Eight busloads of students from Perspectives braved frigid temperatures Wednesday to gather at the House of Hope, 752 East 114th Street, an arena-sized church on the Far South Side. The film was shown during the church’s weekly broadcast. Student and adult attendees lined up at microphones to ask questions. Among the guests were Perspectives board chair Tony Anderson and Mark Aguirre, a Chicago-born basketball superstar who went on to play for the NBA champion Detroit Pistons. He now works for AAR CORP., a global aerospace and defense contractor that supports our students’ peace movement. AAR’s chairman and CEO, David P. Storch, praised our A Disciplined Life education model and what the students have achieved.

“These are great kids who are committed to living A Disciplined Life,” Storch said. “They have a right to peace in Chicago. Every kid should have an opportunity to learn in a safe environment. I give them so much credit for what they’ve done.”

In the film, Academy award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan share their thoughts on the escalating violence affecting school-aged children.

In the documentary, Duncan is reflective of his time as Chicago Public Schools chief. “By far the toughest thing that I dealt with was the level of violence. We lost a Chicago Public Schools student basically every two weeks on average due to gun violence.” he says.

He also says he sees Perspectives and A Disciplined Life as part of the solution. “What Perspectives has worked extraordinarily hard on … 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,” Duncan says.

For future screenings, check Perspectives’ web site at http://pcsedu.org/peace. Follow us on Twitter @pcsedu and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/perspectivescs.


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