Friday night school program in New Jersey helps keep kids off the streets and out of trouble

Regional News

A New Jersey high school transforms into a hot spot for teens on Friday nights.

West Side High School in Newark stays open to become a safe space for students with the ‘Lights On’ program where kids can shoot pool, play video games and basketball, and even get creative in a recording studio.

The school also serves a hot meal. Students say the program keeps them safe and out of trouble, and their principal agrees.

“Anything that keeps me off the streets, I’ll do. Besides, selling drugs and stuff, I’m not into that,” one student says. 

“I haven’t lost any more kids to gun violence since the start of the school year,” Akbar Cook, Principal. 

The ‘Lights On’ program is also held three nights every week during the summer. It’s funded by donations from the community and alumni.

The initiative was started by a former student who feels the program could have saved lives when he was in school.

A free laundry room was installed at the school last year which increased daily attendance by 10-percent. 

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