The full student body of South Main Elementary School, along with teachers and City Council members, protested against drugs and violence Friday morning during a march down Main Street in Pleasantville.
The march was an interactive lesson that taught students from kindergarten through fifth grade about the importance of their First Ammendment rights, as well as helped them confront negative behaviors that affect the community. Topics discussed include drugs, drop-outs, gangs, violence and bullying, as well as promoting togetherness and peace.
Each class made banners and researched their assigned topics for the day, school officials said.
“It connects them to the past, but also to issues in the country and the future,” said Delnora Rowell, a fifth-grade teacher. “They are community issues, Pleasantville issues, but they are also issues in the country.”
City resident Lesly Toussaint was happy to see the children taking part in the march.
“It’s good they are going to learn from a small age — to teach them at a little age to be against these things,” he said.
One group of students protesting violence paraded down the street chanting, “We want peace, gangs must cease.”
The march lasted about a half-hour before students returned to the school grounds.
“They learned a life lesson today,” Principal Felicia Hyman-Medley said. “They sent a message to the community.”
She added that residents came out to support the students and cheered them on from windows and porches as they passed by.
Fifth-grade students Adina Lam and Jeffrey Ortiz-Arias said they agreed not to drop out of school and to pursue higher education.
At the end of the march, “the students were so proud of themselves,” Hyman-Medley said.
Main Street, from Glendale to Willard avenues, was closed to traffic during the event.
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