Holding signs displaying  Martin Luther King Jr.’s six principles of nonviolence, roughly a dozen Summit Academy Secondary School – Youngstown students, along with parents and some school alumni joined School Culture Coordinator Greta Glenellen in the 12th Annual Ohio Nonviolence Week Parade and Rally. Held on October 2 in downtown Youngstown, the parade has become a mainstay for the school community, which makes a strong presence each year at the event and other Nonviolence Week activities.

“We are giving students opportunities to advocate for nonviolence and integrate with like-minded students,” Glenellen says.

She adds that the school community’s participation in the parade also serves as a means to honor those who have lost their lives in violent crimes.

“We’re trying to make a difference and also teaching students how to repair harm with nonviolence,” says Glenellen, emphasizing that this mission exists at the heart of the school’s restorative practices. As part of these practices, students, teachers and staff routinely gather in a circle, a safe place to discuss conflicts and ultimately discover pathways to resolving them.

“With restorative circles, I see growth in our students,” says Glenellen, explaining that this may take shape in discovering what lies at the root of a student’s negative behavior, with possibilities ranging from hunger to home life, to students working out disputes independently and peacefully with one another.

Participating in Nonviolence Week activities helps the school community reinforce the effective restorative practices embedded into its culture. In addition to the parade, students joined Glenellen in serving refreshments at Tuesday’s “Speak Your Peace” poetry slam and plan to attend an address by guest speaker Anthony Ray Hinton, a wrongly convicted former death row inmate who shares his story regularly on national stages and in media.