CHICAGO — Some Chicago high school and elementary school students marched against gun violence on Wednesday as they head into their summer break. 

Locals who passed by Corliss High School in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood witnessed a stand for peace. There, area seniors asked incoming freshmen to step up and make their community a better place. 

Salutatorian Ivory Nola-Scoot and Valedictorian Vincent Smith passed the baton, so to speak, to students graduating from nearby Wendell Smith Elementary as part of the ‘Graduates over Guns‘ program, which started in 2015. 

“We’re just passing the torch to the next generation. Just setting a new tradition that started about seven years ago,” Nola-Scott told WGN News.

“We did this march to empower students to graduate high school and not pick up guns,” Smith added.

Co-founded by Umi Brooks, ‘Graduates over Guns‘ aims to kickstart a commitment to a safe summer for everyone across the city.

“It’s just letting them know, ‘Hey, are you willing to step up to the challenge and invest back into your community?'” Brooks said. “I tell my students, ‘Protect the investment because the investment is you.'”

Brooks said ‘Graduates over Guns‘ was influenced by tragedy.

“After we lost a student, Dennis Radford, it just shook us to our core and we wanted to make sure that enough is enough,” Brooks said.

Corliss is no exception to youth gun violence in the city, with student Donnell Jamison gunned down less than two weeks ago.  

An ‘In Loving Memory’ flyer for Donnell Jamison (Photo/Provided)

“He was a junior, well-loved, well-liked. He was a sports fan and on our football team,” said school principal Kevin Coppage who feels it’s important that kids feel empowered and supported.

“We are here to celebrate. We are here to recognize that there is a path for our young people to achieve,” he added.

Like graduates anywhere, some know exactly what their plan is.

“I just got my Associate’s Degree in web development from Harvey College, and now I’m working toward getting a computer engineering degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,” Smith said.

While others are still happily figuring out what comes next.  

“I have so many plans, I couldn’t choose one. For now, I’m going to major in environmental science at UIUC,” Nola-Scott said.

Corliss’ graduation ceremony will be held on Friday.