CHICAGO (CBS) — At the time of year when violence traditionally peaks in Chicago, hundreds of students on the South Side are rallying for peace.

Students of Perspectives Charter Schools kicked off their sixth annual peace march Friday morning at 24th and State.

Many of the students live on the South Side, and some said they’ve been personally affected by violent crime, so the peace march is their way of calling for and being part of much-needed change.

“My father was killed due to violence, so it’s close to home,” recent Perspectives graduate Jave’t Coppage said. “One of my closest friends, his brother was killed and his uncle was killed just in January and December.”

That’s why Coppage has taken part in the peace march for the past six years.

Organizers said the annual march led by students at Perspectives Charter Schools – a network of five South Side schools – is vital, because those kids experience a tremendous amount of violence in the communities they call home.

Along with teachers, staff, and community leaders, hundreds of students called for change at a time of year violent crime tends to rise in Chicago.

“The vast majority of our young people want to have a safe and productive community to live in, and so they just want to shout it out and say we are those people,” said Perspectives Charter Schools chief growth officer Rhonda Hopps.

“One life being taken can change a whole community. So just be aware of the actions that you do, the things that you see. Speak up if you have to,” Coppage said.

That’s the takeaway from the annual rally; watching out for each other, and making sure they make it back for next school year.