In a play for peace, Parkway student activists go up against police — in basketball

Students from Parkway Center City Middle College, and our dual enrollment students, make the news. I barely recognized the young men in front of me, though I’ve known them for nearly two years.The three — Jaden Burnett, Frank Gillis-Corbitt, and Quadir Gamble — are all Parkway Center City Middle College students. They’re in 11th grade now, but I first met them as ninth graders when I walked into their school auditorium on a cold March day to hear the class read essays about how gun violence has impacted their lives. Ever since, I’ve watched them evolve into passionate activists, calling attention to the gun violence in Philadelphia that’s too often reduced to a mere footnote in the national conversation on the epidemic. They’ve traveled to Harrisburg and D.C. to call attention to the issue. Last year they led the way to the Art Museum for the fourth annual Fill the Steps Against Gun Violence gathering.So when their sociology teacher at Community College of Philadelphia (Parkway students earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in four years) asked them to create a community outreach project, they didn’t have to think hard. With the help of Boland and other dedicated Parkway staffers, the students planned an anti-violence basketball tournament scheduled for Monday, Nov. 25, at CCP. Teams of Parkway students will play one another, with the final winners going against a team of police officers from the Ninth District led by Community Relations Officer Jesse O’Shea. (In the future they want to open the tournament to other schools, but for now it’s limited to Parkway students.)