ROCHESTER, N.Y. — An all-boys high school in Rochester has kicked off its own anti-violence effort, following a number of incidents that have seen students, and even teachers, getting hurt fighting and trying to break up fights in local schools.
Sometimes, the best approach is to be different, something as simple as making sure students get to class on time.
“It is very important for us to embrace and to let our students know how important it is to be punctual and on time,” said Michael James, senior recruiter at Vertus High School.
Punctuality, respect and discipline are part of the culture at Vertus, a public high school which opened in 2014 and has 270 young men enrolled.
Students at the school are mentored constantly by adults, known as preceptors. Students are also taught to be their brother’s keepers.
“We protect the schools and keep our brothers safe,” said junior Cherokee Hardman. “They help you stay in the right place, stay on task, keep doing your work.”
In response to recent incidents in many Rochester-area schools, Vertus has started its own anti-violence and bullying initiative. Keeping students safe is another part of the culture here.
“We keep each other accountable,” said sophomore Quion Morgan. “We hold each other to that high standard. We try to exclude all that drama and that gang beef and all that type of stuff.”
“We want to endorse school peace, and also school safety, at all times,” James said. “You want to make sure that our students feel safe where they're going to school, as well as parents knowing that they can trust that their kids are in a safe environment when they go to school.”
Accountability and leadership that administrators expect students to take back home with them.
“Things happen in the city of Rochester all the time,” James said. “And we understand that sometimes our students may be affected by what goes on in their neighborhoods.”
Not that this school hasn’t had fights and other incidents. It has occasionally, according to administrators. When that happens, parents are brought in immediately, they say.
For students, there will always be someone looking out for them.
“It feels good to be a leader,” said Morgan. “Especially when people look up to you.”