URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — A Central Illinois principal wants to end violence. He said you have to start at the bottom by building a foundation.
Now, he’s working on keeping the community safe and encouraging others to add a bit of bling to their outfits with beads.
It began a few months ago in May when Taren Nance, Urbana High School’s principal, started to wear beads to match his outfits. In the hallways, students always asked him to wear them too, but instead, he saw it as an incentive.
He told students if they went to class on time and finished their school work, he’d give them beads.
It quickly turned into the “anti-violence collective,” or the AVC. In addition to working hard in the classroom, students also had to sign an anti-violence pledge to earn the beads.
Nance wants students to know that they have understanding people all around them.
“When they get upset, reflect. Think about the beads,” he said. “Understand that Principal Nance is working hard to make sure you have a positive school environment so when you get upset with your friend, walk away. Go tell an adult or a social worker instead of resorting to violence. I’m hoping we’re going to see, systematically, the violence decrease.”
Kierra Moten, a sophomore at Urbana High School, said the beads make her feel empowered.
“Anti-violence is a big commitment and I feel like it’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough,” she said.
And, she said signing the pledge is a big deal.
“Knowing that I signed this paper, I’m not going to fight back, I’m not going to become a fighter, I’m not going to start an argument with someone,” Moten said.
Nance said it doesn’t end here.
“The more positive environments and enriching activities I give them, that’s true antiviolence work,” he said.
During an open house event on Tuesday, parents also had the opportunity to sign the pledge. Nance said it’s all about the community, even outside of the school. He hopes this program can be a symbol of hope and inspiration.