Chicago (CBS) — Everyday at Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep, there’s drama class.
It’s required for all. It’s taught by a neighborhood native and alum of the charter school.
For a class of sophomores, it’s a safe space.
“I think it really helps us take our minds off of everything in society,” Jamari Davis said.
Teacher Ariell Azadi Williams developed the class to help students deal with typical teenage issues and those they face growing up in one of Chicago’s most violent areas.
“I noticed immediately that when I started teaching that there was all these emotional dispositions, all these gaps, these social emotional gaps that our scholars just didn’t have, these tools that they didn’t have,” Williams said.
Williams began creating lessons to help students fill in those gaps and work through some very real trauma, even deal with PTSD.
“I see it all the time in live form in class. If they’re doing a scene where someone has to scream or if someone makes a sudden movement or a chair falls, some of our scholars will get up and run and they’re serious because they’re afraid,” Williams said.
Ask and many students said the class really helps.
“Her concept of teaching is actually very calming. We do meditation,” Davis said.
“It may not be completely solved, but at least something is being excavated. Something is being worked through. Then I’m doing something right,” Williams said.
According to the Chicago Police Department’s most recent crime statistics, there have been nine murders and 45 shootings in the districts in and around the high school just since the beginning of the year.