Grant Students Create Gators Against Violence Coalition
Published on 4/8/19
District News Grant Middle School
The Grant Middle School community was struggling as they started the school year. Over the past year, they saw three current or former Grant students lose their lives to violence in the community.
Teacher Sean Macmaster and Social Worker Lindsey Baracco thought students might appreciate an outlet to express their thoughts and feelings, so the Gators Against Violence (GAV) Coalition was formed.
“We see the impact this violence has had on our students and the need for students to have a voice to use their emotions about these tragedies to make positive changes both within the school and the community as a whole,” Ms. Baracco said.
Meeting weekly during the school’s enrichment time, the group has grown from a handful of students to more than 70 – nearly 10 percent of the school’s enrollment! These students are all members for one common reason: to create a positive change.
“I knew people who went to jail for committing violence,” eighth grader TihNiah Breland said. “I joined the GAV Coalition because I couldn’t take it anymore, knowing people were being killed. I hope our group helps kids change themselves so they can grow up and have a future.”
“I didn’t want to see kids being bullied anymore,” classmate Charmae Perdue said. “We can prevent these things from happening. I really hope we can make a change in the community so more kids don’t get hurt.”
Group meetings range from discussion circles to small group projects and more. Occasional guest speakers stop by to speak about anti-violence and about overcoming barriers to success. During one discussion, students shared why they joined the group and how their involvement has affected them so far.
“I joined because I want to make a difference,” one student said.
“I joined because I want to talk about how I feel about all the violence,” another added.
“It’s taught me that other people understand what it feels like to lose someone you care about,” a third chimed in.
The Coalition has already created anti-violence posters to display throughout the school. Now, they’re brainstorming things they would like to do as the school year continues. They hope to start a letter-writing campaign to contact local leaders and government representatives about their group and enlist their support. They’re hoping to create a ‘no fighting’ pledge for students to sign. Eventually, they would like to create flyers and possibly a website to help them reach outside their own school community – with some students even volunteering to visit other schools to promote a message of anti-violence and share the strategies the group has enacted.
We look forward to seeing the continued impact of the GAV Coalition as it expands throughout Grant Middle School and the SCSD!