Philly school touched by gun violence helps students with grief while providing incentive to speak out
NORTH PHILADELPHIA - After one school loses another student to gun violence, school leaders are having important discussions and reminding students they don’t have to get involved with the wrong crowd. And, there's an incentive to step forward.
All week, students have been mourning the loss of Salaah Fleming. His picture and flowers have been left behind where he used to sit. Police say he was shot and killed April 28.
"I don’t understand how the world can be so cold as to cut short a precious life," student Chelsea Kelly said.
Poetry is one way students at the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School are processing the murder of their 8th grade peer.
"He was always really chill. He was quiet and always seemed happy," student Sam Sawyer described Salaah.
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Chelsea Kelly added, "It hit especially close to home because this was actually a person who I sat next to in Social Studies and who I, sometimes, would help out with his work. So, it felt very odd to just, you know, process thoughts like, ‘I’m gonna go to school and I’m not gonna see him anymore.’"
Fleming was shot and killed April 28, along with three other people. A surviving teen is a junior at the same school. As an added safety measure, CEO Veronica Joyner says teachers are not identifying students as they walk into security.
"We have a crisis in this city. I don’t know if people are calling it what it is, but we have a severe crisis," Joyner said.
Earlier this year, another student at the school was shot six times and survived. He’s finishing his studies remotely. Joyner reminds students there is a cash incentive. "There’s a $100 bill that we keep every year and we show it to the children at the beginning and say it could be yours, all you need to do is give me information. If you see a gun, a knife, if you hear someone talking about fighting someone."
The School District of Philadelphia says 117 students have been the victims of violence and 26 of them have died.
This week, counselors are working with students on expressing themselves to process the trauma and pain.
During this time of grieving, the school community is hopeful they won’t hear of another tragedy involving one of their students before the last day of school and that’s June 13.
Tips can be submitted by calling 215-686-TIPS (8477) or texting PPD TIP (773847). Tips can also be submitted anonymously online, here. All tips are confidential.
Click here to find resources for victims of violence in Philadelphia.