In this fractious political year violence has been all too evident in our inner cities, in our schools and even in our public discourse. In Worcester, our high schools have armed guards, and our district ranked among the top five in the state for school suspensions.
The good news is that donations from our supporters have enabled the Center for Nonviolent Solutions to continue effective work to reduce violence in the city of Worcester. This fall we hosted a training in peace education and hired new staff including a communications coordinator who has significantly increased our online presence. Plans are underway for Voices of Peace, a radio project with neighborhood youth highlighting efforts of peacemakers. Listen for them on WCUW!
The Center has been involved for three years at Claremont Academy, a grade 7-12 school in Worcester’s Main South. This fall we trained 18 Claremont high school students who will be conducting peer mediations this year for the middle school students.
In 2011-12 with a total enrollment of 370 Claremont had over 300 suspensions. Last year, with an enrollment of 540 there were 29 suspensions. That is a 90% reduction in the rates of suspension in one school.
Most of the credit for Claremont’s remarkable turnaround goes to Principal Ricci Hall and his dedicated staff who have also introduced such practices as mindfulness meditation and restorative justice circles which are changing the school culture. Principal Hall has said of our programs:
“Students began to see violence as a negative choice. They were profoundly impacted and engaged in deep thinking about nonviolence….. These students became ambassadors of this thinking in our school.”
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions is proud to be a part of such a striking success in an inner city Worcester school. In order to expand our work to other schools, we are in critical need of your support.
Our dedicated board of directors has pledged $5000 in matching funds for this end-of-year appeal. All your gifts up to $5000 will be doubled by our board.
Many thanks to those who have already responded so generously to our appeal. You encourage us. For those who have yet to give, there is still time. Help us make 2017 a year for building peace.