Students in Chicago Public Schools will take part in a first-ever “peace hour” Thursday, signing a pledge to commit to making it a peaceful summer in the city.
The push for peace comes just days after a 6-year-old girl was shot in Chicago. While she is recovering, CPS says the peace hour is about starting a conversation with kids about the challenges they face and how they can be part of the solution to the violence.
Instead of sitting at their desks, for one hour Thursday students in 660 schools will take part in talking circles where they will sit in a circle amongst one another and talk about what peace means to them.
The questions teachers will ask are tailored by grade level, district officials said, but each student from kindergarten through 12th grade will be encouraged to express their feelings about Chicago’s violence.
With shootings up nearly 50 percent for the year, there are few children that are not impacted by the violence in some way or another, which is why at the end of the peace hour CPS says each of its 92,000 students will sign a peace pledge.
The peace pledge, designed by students at Farragut High School, reads:
I pledge allegiance to bring peace to my school and to my city.
I pledge to support and motivate others to create and keep peace.
I pledge to try to be an individual who changes my city for the better.
I want to be the constant and not the variable; to be the one who leads and sets an example.
In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the day aimed on peace is about getting children to have a plan so they can have a safe and productive summer, and that includes keeping kids engaged through summer learning opportunities.
Signing the pledge is not mandatory, school officials said, but every student will be required to take part in the peace hour scheduled during class hours Thursday.