High school is possibly the last place students want to find themselves, especially on a Friday night, but for West Side High School students in Newark, New Jersey, it’s not only a safe space, it’s fun.
The Lights On program is in its fourth year of operation, and it isn’t unusual to see hundreds of students inside the school’s halls until 11 p.m. on Friday nights. Principal Akbar Cook credits the program with the safety of his student. “I haven’t lost any more kids to gun violence since the start of the school year,” he told ABC 7.
Last year, the principal enjoyed a bit of viral fame after he installed a free laundry room on campus. He was inspired to do so after he learned some of his students were chronically absent because they were being bullied for having dirty clothes. He has seen a ten percent increase in daily attendance since the installation.