Englewood students march in 4th annual ‘Graduates Over Guns’ ahead of holiday weekend

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CHICAGO — As the school year ends and the summer begins, students from Chicago’s Excel Academy are promoting their message of peace through the streets.

On Thursday students marched through the Englewood neighborhood paraded on by local residents as part of the fourth annual “Graduates Over Guns.”

Many who marched were graduates and want other residents to choose graduation over gang-banging.

Excel is an alternative school for students 15 to 21. Organizers said their objective is simple but is needed now more than ever.

“We have young African-American, Hispanic, white [people] from all across Chicago who have to fight the odds about what society says about them and they can graduate and put the violence aside and be successful young people,” Ashanti Brooks, Chicago Excel Academy, said.

After the march there was a rally, a barbecue, and a ceremonial passing of the baton to elementary students from Amos Alonzo Stagg just up the street.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced free youth services and amped up police patrols ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The Chicago Park District is offering free activities at all 97 locations to keep kids safe and out of trouble — including swimming and basketball.

For more information on city safety plans, visit chicago.gov/summer.

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