Local ministers and community members pray in a circle in front of Proviso East High School on May 24 during the school’s final day of classes. According to multiple reports, there were no significant incidents reported. | Submitted photo
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain
As students at Proviso East High School in Maywood walked out of the school’s doors and into the sunlit afternoon, some of them for the last time, they may have run into Bishop Reginald Saffo, and his fellow men of the cloth, dressed in black suits and white collars.
“I think when the kids see clergy, it puts them in a different mindset,” said Maywood Police Officer Pirsia Allen, himself an ordained minister and one of the clergymen who took to the sidewalks on Tuesday afternoon to help ensure that what happened in 2013 never happens again.
Three years ago, on May 31, about 300 students from the high school were involved in a brawl that spanned multiple blocks and resulted in 10 arrests. Videos of the multiple fights that occurred that day spread across the internet.
District officials noted that the brawl did not start on school property, although that response was insufficient consolation for some community leaders at the time.
“[F]or the school to say that it didn’t happen on school property, therefore its not their problem …it was planned in the school! Even I knew it was going to happen,” said Barbara Cole, the executive director of Maywood Youth Mentor, in an interview roughly two weeks after the 2013 brawl happened.
Almost three years to the date, however, and school administrators, law enforcement authorities, community leaders and clergymen are basking in another successful last-day at the high school.
Allen said that this is the second consecutive year clergymen have established a presence during the high school’s last day. They were also dressed to the holy nines around this time in 2015.
The Maywood community policing officer confirmed that no significant incidents happened during this year’s final school day.
Saffo, who pastors the United Faith M.B. Church in Maywood and heads the Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network, said the clergymen partnered with other community organizations and elected officials, such as Cole’s mentoring organization, on the outreach event. Around 10 to 15 people helped out, he said.
“The school’s administrative staff participated, too,” Saffo noted. “It was a collaborative effort. Importantly, law enforcement was low-key. I was just concerned about the kids having a peaceful dismissal, which will be a launching pad for what’s hopefully a positive summer for them.” VFP
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