The Southside Community School is making steady strides in achieving its mission to create a positive impact in the community.

The school was created in 2001 by a local public prosecutor to be the change for the community.

This neighborhood had a high poverty rate and high crime rate, so she wanted to eliminate that, said the current principal, Brian Johnson.

This school year is Johnson’s first year as principal, but he’s been teaching at the school since 2006.

In recent years, even before he became principal, he’s seen how the school has made connections with community partners to strengthen the resources for families.

Every second Tuesday of the month, we have food drives, he said.

He described how many resources cater to the needs of families at home, but the focus for students at school is what leads the school in its mission.

Our peace pledge, that our students recite each morning, is really focusing on respect, said Johnson.

The pledge states, “Peace starts with me. Members of the Southside Community School commit to peace and nonviolence. We will respect ourselves and others, treat our place with care, work hard toward equality, be excellent scholars and strong leaders, and work together toward a peaceful world.”

Johnson described how many students have been with the school for years, along with many returning families. He’s had students return with their children, and it’s that family feel of the school that brings joy to Lluvia Garcia.

Garcia is in sixth grade, but she’s been at the school since preschool. She and both her siblings attend the school, along with many of her cousins.

She explained how she appreciates the pledge and what it teaches her. If you are the person that is starting to do one thing, other people will see how good youre doing, and will try and repeat,” said Garcia.

Garcia is also in student council, and the focus has been on how to bring the community into the school, and vice-versa. The group is discussing a community cleanup, and Garcia explained the value of that.

People feel better when its cleaner and its more beautiful, she said.

Principal Brian Johnson explained how the school had been working to improve their letter grade for several years, and last year, they achieved their first “B” letter grade.

This year, they were able to maintain that grade. Now, the focus is on continuing in that direction by finding more ways to build a strong foundation for families.

Currently, the nonprofit, free charter school offers free preschool, free books twice a year, and free yearly field trips.

For more information, visit Southside Community School.