Every citizen has a duty to instill a positive change within their community and beyond. This is what was shown by a group of freshman scholars at Sumner High School: Damarshay Carnes, Tykese Patton, Stephan Riggins, Robin Steed, Regina Washington, and Nick Ford, senior mentor. These students’ sense of leadership and willingness to make change has most adults in awe.
They first started by organizing the school to hold a Peace March on September 11. As a result of the march, the community has recognized that the students of Sumner High School are tired of gun violence and are no longer going to be silent on this issue. As an extension of the Peace March, the freshman organizers decided, with the support of adults, to continue their activism by starting a new project: the Peace Garden.
The Peace Garden was officially recognized by the Sumner Alumni Association, St. Michael and St. George Church and Better Family Life, Inc. at a groundbreaking ceremony on November 13. Phase 1 of the garden is to plant flowers around the Ethel Hedgeman Lyle memorial bench on the front lawn of the school. Ethel Hedgeman Lyle was the founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a Sumner graduate, class of 1904. Miranda Jones, a current member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, gave a most inspiring speech, concluding with her high expectations for the garden.
However, what left everyone awestruck was the announcement that the garden tools being used were forged from donated guns. Student participants in the ceremony read their poems and one student even broke into a freestyle rap song. This astonishing feat was made possible by members of the St. Michael Church, St. George’s Church very own Dr. Judith Walker de Felix, and a loyal community volunteer, Dr. Cook.
Tykese Patton, a freshman organizer who served as emcee, said he hopes the garden sets an example for other communities. He further stated that these types of change in our community must not go unnoticed and we all must be ready to “challenge change.”
At the event refreshments were provided and students of the past came to meet and become friends with current students.
However, the big unknown looming is whether Sumner High School will stay open next year to see the garden blossom and come to fruition.
Calvin Carson edits the Sumner High School student newspaper.