FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) is thinking outside of the box to keep their schools safe. The district has rolled out new initiatives at South Side High School.
South Side High School is serving as the pilot school for a new weapon detection system, student advocates and Peacemaker Academy.
Peacemaker Academy is a three-week summer program through Alive Community Outreach that focuses on providing high school students with the skills to be peacemakers in their school and community. The program has been offered at South Side High School for three years.
“We’ve been trying to think of ways to empower students, knowing that student to student peer to peer is absolutely the most powerful influence, and we want that to be a positive proactive influence,” FWCS Superintendent Mark Daniel said. “So, therefore, what’s been happening the last three years at South Side is a model now for our entire district.”
Peacemaker Academy has now expanded to Northrop High School and North Side High School. There is also a peacemaker club that meets every Thursday during after-school hours.
The new weapon detection system is part of the new health and safety referendum that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
At Monday’s FWCS School Board meeting, Officials involved with these pilot programs said the process has been smooth. They said students are aware of what items to have removed from their bag to be checked by the weapon detection system, such as laptops, and that it keeps the process going timely.
Olivia Soto, senior and Peacemaker at South Side High School, said you can feel the difference that these three programs have made.
“The environment, the energy at South Side with the weapons detection systems and the student advocates is it’s honestly, it’s nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Soto said. “This is my senior year, and I couldn’t be more happier to be at South Side.”
According to FWCS officials, with the Peacemakers, Student Advocates and the weapon detection system pilot program, no guns have been found at South Side High School this year, and fighting has gone down 31% compared to last year.
“I think we’re putting many pieces in place that are going to create safer schools, safer schools for not just our schools but for a greater community,” Daniel said.