Mayor praises efforts of Lee High leadership group

Curry wants to spread program to other Jacksonville schools

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A group of Lee High School students had lunch Monday with Mayor Lenny Curry at City Hall to pitch their plans for how to combat violence among youth and other issues their generation is facing.

They said they have big plans for the city -- a progress agenda they shared directly with Curry over pizza.

“They are the model about how we can fundamentally change our city with young people,” Curry said.

The young men started a leadership group called EVAC – that's CAVE spelled backwards, based on Plato's

“Allegory of the Cave” about the importance of education.

Junior Chris Burgess said the group hopes to highlight how youth can rise above a dark past, overcoming challenges to focus on a brighter future.

“This is very important to us because we feel like Jacksonville is a good city, and we want to improve the youth crime rate and we want to give more opportunities to kids our age, youth our age,” Burgess said. “And not only just a bad image on us but increase the positivity inside all schools and all communities.”

Curry shared personal stories from his childhood, offered encouragement and listened to the students' ideas on how to improve the odds for teens across Jacksonville.

“We've got a lot of challenges in this city, and we've got a lot of young men, including those standing here with me now, that are experiencing things that most adults haven't been through,” Curry said. “But they have figured out that focus, discipline, hard work, commitment is the way forward.”

Monday was Curry's second meeting with the EVAC group. He said he hopes to generate ideas on how to spread the leadership program to more Jacksonville schools.

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