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West Side School Urges Kids To Return In Fall With ‘No Empty Seats’

West Side community activists held up empty school chairs outside William Penn Elementary School, to represent students lost to gun violence, while encouraging students to stay safe this summer and return to school with no empty seats. (Credit: CBS)

West Side community activists held up empty school chairs outside William Penn Elementary School, to represent students lost to gun violence, while encouraging students to stay safe this summer and return to school with no empty seats. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – It was party time Thursday morning outside a West Side elementary school, where kids were getting out of school for the summer, and adults were encouraging students to say safe this summer, and come back in the fall without any empty seats.

WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports the message at the end-of-school party outside William Penn Elementary School in the North Lawndale neighborhood was “No Empty Seats.”

School officials and a local community group encouraged students to stay safe during the summer and come back to school when it’s time for classes to resume in the fall.

Louvenia Hood, executive director of Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere, said, “We want these same students who was traveling to school to come back to school in September for the entire year; with no one being killed, no one being shot, and no seats being empty.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Parent Teleza Rodgers said she’s heartbroken by the violence that goes on in the North Lawndale community.

“Even going to the neighborhood stores, even going to the bus stop, it just seems to be an issue with our young children,” Rodgers said. “We’re losing our boys by the numbers daily.”

She said children are “wanting to hurt each other” at younger and younger ages.

Rodgers said students should have fun and be safe over the summer.

Daquan Hampton, 14, graduated from Penn this week. He said he plans to attend high school in Cicero, where his father lives, because, “I’m trying to get away from the violence.”

Hampton said he had a friend who was shot and killed a couple of years ago.

“Every other day, you hear about somebody getting shot, killed, or getting robbed, or something like that, and that’s not cool,” he said. “They’re killing and shooting people over little stuff, like dice games and stuff like that.”

His advice for a safe summer includes: “not being out too late, and spend time with your family more during the summer, and still trying to learn stuff. Even though school is out, that don’t mean you should stop learning. You should still try to learn new things.”