2013 EL Keynote Speech

The Peacekeeper Project Background

While studying the US Constitution and learning about the second amendment during the fall of 2012, Polaris Charter Academy 7th graders collected data on gun violence in their own community of West Humboldt Park in Chicago.  The statistics were alarming:  As 7th graders, 84% of their crew members had been around a gun; 96% of them knew someone who had been shot or killed; 100% of Polaris 7th graders had, at some time or another, felt unsafe in their own neighborhood.  They felt compelled to make a difference and began their work on what became known as the “Peacekeeper Project”.

Through the students’ hard work and activism, the Peacekeeper Project gained local and national attention.  In the fall of 2013, Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer of Expeditionary Learning (EL), learned about this extraordinary expedition and contacted Polaris.  After reviewing all aspects of the project, a panel of Expeditionary Learning executives chose Polaris and the Peacekeeper Project from the approximately 170 EL schools from around the country to deliver the keynote address to 1,000 guests at the EL National Conference in Atlanta, GA.  In September, Mr. Berger came to Polaris to work with the four chosen student representatives on their Keynote address, featured in the video above. Enjoy!