NJ High School Welcomes Hundreds Of Students Every Friday Night To Keep Them Off Streets

NJ High School Welcomes Hundreds Of Students Every Friday Night To Keep Them Off Streets

Some of the students are thankful for such a space, where they know that someone will not shoot them.

In the times where people are fearing for their children's lives, wondering if someone will shoot them, there is a school which is providing a safe space for students. ABC 7 NY reports that a man is on a mission to keep students at a Newark high school off the streets and out of trouble. 

Youtube

This has led to having a school full of kids on a Friday night. Something unusual, but its also something that is making West Side High School, a space free of fear. And given how the rise of gun violence is filling the streets, this concept is a promising step to keep children safe. 

It's all part of the Lights On program which is now in its fourth year and is open to everyone. 

Youtube

Many would think it's the last place students would want to be, but they are there to avoid what lurks outside of the school: 

"Anything that keeps me off the streets I'll do," one student told ABC7NY. "Selling drugs and stuff, I'm not into that." 

"I just realized that if I come here I'll see friendly faces," another student said. 

"Security," said another student.  

Youtube

The program seeks to not only give the kids a safe space but also enable them in a different and freer way. 
Within the walls of the school, every Friday night until 11 p.m., kids can shoot pool, play video games, hit the hardwood, practice cheers or even lay down tracks in a recording studio. And also, they can simply laugh and dance. 

Youtube

Nadia Camacho graduated in 2008. Who spoke to ABC 7 NY 
"If it was around back then, I think that we wouldn't have lost so many of my classmates," Camacho said. "If we had a class reunion right now a lot of my classmates wouldn't be here due to gun violence."

Youtube

"I haven't lost any more kids to gun violence since the start of the school year," Principal Akbar Cook said.
Cook also emphasizes that the results that the program is having the on kids can't be ignored. 

This is not the first time that Akbas Cook has proved that his students matter to him. Last summer, his students were bullied because of dirty clothes which resulted in chronic absenteeism. So Cook installed a free laundry room inside the school to help the students. 
Cook says there been a 10 percent increase in daily attendance since he opened the laundry room.

Akbar Cook (Youtube)

"I was finding out just from being a principal that the kids don't eat during the weekends," Cook said. 
The school also serves hot meals to the kids on Friday nights. 
During the summer, the program is held three nights a week. It's all made possible by donations from the community and alumni. 

Youtube

It all goes to show what a school can become when the community cares about kids who just want a chance. 
"It's fun, safe too. It's better than being out on the streets," one student said. 
"On the street it's dangerous, people get killed, you could be killed walking home, gunshots everywhere," one student said.

Recommended for you