Parents, students lead march for ‘peace, love and play’ after 16-year-old shot near Albany Park elementary school

The girl was walking in the 4900 block of North Harding Avenue the morning of Feb. 1 when two males approached and started shooting in her direction, according to police. The girl was hit in the shoulder as she fled.

SHARE Parents, students lead march for ‘peace, love and play’ after 16-year-old shot near Albany Park elementary school
Around 50 students, teachers, and parents rallied in front of and marched around Volta Elementary School the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. The anti-violence march was in response to the shooting of a 16-year-old girl near the school last week. They also want a new school playground, which supporters say will make the community safer.

Around 50 students, teachers, and parents rallied in front of and marched around Volta Elementary School Friday afternoon. The anti-violence march was in response to the shooting of a 16-year-old girl near the school last week. They also want a new school playground, which supporters say will make the community safer.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Luciana Palacio was in music class last week when Volta Elementary School was locked down.

Doors were locked. Students were asked to remain still. Everything felt like a drill.

But it wasn’t a drill.

Outside the school, a 16-year-old girl had just been shot.

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“We weren’t scared because we didn’t think it was real,” said Luciana, who’s in 4th grade. “I’m very happy our teachers helped protect us.”

That shooting on Feb. 1 prompted school parents to organize Friday’s “march for peace, love and play” just after the final bell. They hope to inspire a safer neighborhood through various initiatives — like a new school playground.

Luciana and dozens of her classmates joined in the march, holding signs that declared: “We need a safe place to play and grow” and “Peace, Fun, Love.” Parents marched around the school, chanting, as the children held signs high above their heads.

“It feels like we are helping the community so that there is no more violence,” Luciana said. “It feels good to be doing this.”

Her mother, Carol Palacio, one of the parents who helped organize the march, said it was important for children to participate.

“We have to show the future generation to do this kind of thing, to show them not to be afraid to stand up,” Carol Palacio said. “We can help create a safe place.”

The incident that sparked the march occurred about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1. A 16-year-old girl walking in the 4900 block of North Harding Avenue, along the back of the school property, was approached by two males who began shooting in her direction, according to police.

As she fled, the girl was shot in her shoulder. She was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where her condition was stabilized. She has since been released.

No arrests had been made as of early Friday night, according to Chicago police.

Dozens of parents and students marched around Volta Elementary School in Albany Park. The anti-violence march was in response to the shooting of a 16-year-old girl near the school last week.

Dozens of parents and students marched around Volta Elementary School in Albany Park. The anti-violence march was in response to the shooting of a 16-year-old girl near the school last week.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“I was scared but I’m thankful that the principal and school staff made the good decision to lockdown and keep our kids safe,” Carol Palacio said. “I was worried, but I think it’s important for us to trust our schools will do what’s best for our students.”

Bridget Murphy, who has a kindergartener and a 3rd grader at Volta, said the purpose of the march was to come together as a community, acknowledge the shooting and give power back to the young students after that lockdown, which lasted just over an hour.

“We also want to think about solutions,” Murphy said, adding that a new playground would benefit the entire community: “There is a lot of evidence that when people are out playing and watching in the streets that it makes the community safer.”

Illinois State Sen. Christina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago, attended the march to support the parents and the call for a new school playground.

“This is a demonstration of what it looks like when a community comes together and when young people and children lead the solution,” said Pacione-Zayas, whose district includes the school. “When we are talk about addressing violence and public safety, it is about addressing the holistic, root cause issues and coming up with solutions because wisdom is in the community.”

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