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Students to Meet at Summit on Violence

Students from three San Fernando Valley high schools will join representatives from 23 other Los Angeles County schools at a two-day summit next week to identify ways to reduce teen-age violence on and off campus.

Sponsored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the alcohol prevention program Friday Night Live, the “Harmony Summit” will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Malibu. Students from Reseda and Van Nuys high schools and Evergreen Continuation High School will be among the estimated 90 participants.

The summit marks the first time that the decade-old organization, Friday Night Live, will focus on violence prevention in a formal fashion. Founded in 1984 in three counties to address the growing problem of drinking and driving among teen-agers, Friday Night Live--now in more than 50 counties--has widened its focus over the years, first to include drugs and now violence.

“We know that violence has gotten out of hand,” said John Berndt project director of Friday Night Live. “And violence is often an issue that results from lessened inhibitions that occur when a kid is loaded.”

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Summit organizers hope that through discussion, the students will come up with concrete ideas and activities they can bring back to their campuses to help reduce violence.

Friday Night Live has chapters in about 150 high schools and junior highs in Los Angeles County. Organizers for the summit chose some of the participating schools for geographical representation and others--such as Reseda where a student was shot and killed last year--because they had experienced violence.

Castillo Luz, 16, president of Reseda High School’s chapter of Friday Night Live, said discussing violence as part of the program’s focus is a reality.

“It’s all connected,” he said. “Once you get your hands on things you’re not supposed to have, you get pretty violent.”


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