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Students, Teachers rally against violence in Reading

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 07 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 08 2012 05:49:54 PM CST

Anti-Violence in Reading

READING, Pa. -

It's been a violent year in Reading, but a peace rally Saturday is trying to turn the tide.  Several group that take a hands-on approach are trying to show students from troubled backgrounds that there is a better way.

 "A lot of our students grow up with violence in their homes," said Mary-Liz Guthier, a teacher at Northeast Middle School.  "But there's also violence in the streets where they live."

 A rally Saturday at Reading Intermediate High School, known as "The Citadel," was a response to recent incidents there.

 "We had some violent issues that had gone on in our cafeteria that required our immediate attention," said assistant principal Cheryl Davis.  "Some of our students that we have had removed from our building that were creating some of the problems."

 Those attending said it's no secret why students lash out.

 "Just children just growing up and being angry," said organizer Pastor Gerald Prentice.

 This rally, with a heavy religious theme, was organized by Prentice and other clergy who offer intervention to at-risk kids.

 "We've been coming into the schools and walking the halls and talking to our children here, and letting them know that there is a better way," he said.

 Also working with kids is "Project Peace," which has high schoolers mentor younger kids on anger and stress management.

 "There are two choices you can make," said Guthier, who is involved with the group.  "If you're a hurt person -- if you're a person who's hurt by violence -- you can hurt others or you can help others."

 Project Peace is organizing a student-led anti-violence march next April.  They say "student-led" is the key.  Essentially, kids listen to other kids.