Harvard Elementary opens after merging with Yale

August 26, 2013 4:49:58 PM PDT
On the city's South Side, it was the first day's journey along a Safe Passage route for new students attending Harvard Elementary.

First grader Karson Jackson rejoices - for he begins the school year with a brand new pair of Converse tennis shoes. There will also be a new school for Karson, his older brother and two sisters. They used to go to Yale, which is now closed. So they will go further south to Harvard - new faces, new teachers. The unknown can be unsettling.

"These kids - don't know nothing about them and I can't talk to teachers like I used to," said eighth grader Kyia Jackson.

The Jackson four also have much further to go to school now, so they are walking only to the car. Mother will be giving them a ride every day.

"I knew I was gonna drive and make a way for them to get driven instead of walking," said mom Tamika Jackson.

But many were walking Monday, and waiting along the designated Safe Passage route were the newly hired Safe Passage monitors - standing within line of sight of each other, equipped with phones and a message.to all passersby.

This is an area that is no stranger to gang activity. So the walk to school Monday was accompanied by Safe Passage workers, the fire department, Streets and Sanitation, police cruising everywhere - both on the ground and in the air.

Volunteers like Emory Robinson from the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation are stationed along some of the routes. And on this first day, there were many parents walking with their children along the route to Harvard.

"You see it every day. We are losing our kids to the streets, so by me being a father - that I'm gonna stay up to my responsibilities and make sure my kids are safe," said Don Williams.

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