DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- While law enforcement and city officials work to combat youth violence issues in Durham, a small school in the heart of the Bull City is being recognized on social media by celebrities such as actress Viola Davis for how it is teaching values that could help prevent such violence.
Kimberly Palmer said getting her class together in the mornings can be a lot to handle, but is always made easier by the energy her students give off when they arrive.
Each day, class at (Quality Education Institute (QEI) in Durham begins at 8:30 sharp, and it begins with songs and dancing and a 30-minute morning routine
"We don't only want them to be good students, we want them to be great people as well; we want them to know the sky's the limit you can do anything you want to," Palmer said.
First, they pray then they recite poems about honesty and discipline.
"I will be honest and truthful with God, myself and other people," recited the children, followed by, "I will do the things I need to do even when I don't want to do them," they said as they banged their fists on the desk
But it's this chant that gained Palmer millions of views online and national attention.
"I think it really hit me when Viola Davis reposted our video," said Palmer about going viral.
She wants you to love their routine but she hopes it prepares children for a world that is often discouraging and sometimes violent.
"It's just instilling these things that you never know they might need them right now or they may need them later on in life, but once they have them ingrained into their system, and they can quote these things and just say them to themselves daily, it helps," Palmer said.
Palmer said she hopes the lessons learned here translate through to adulthood
Her younger brother Khayree Dixon graduated from this program
He now attends North Carolina Central University down the street.
"I am somebody. I may not look like every time I heard it was like asking for that energy at the beginning of the day that's nice," he said about the affirmations
He uses those skills built in elementary school every day in his home city despite ongoing concerns about youth violence.
Although homicides in Durham are down 8% compared to last year, the murder rate in Durham for the past 12 months is up 5% compared to the previous three years.
Just this year, the city has seen 18 shooting victims younger than 18.
"Somebody who is my age or a little bit younger or like a little bit older had fell prey to some of the stuff that goes on in Durham like some of the negative side of Durham. It's really just being thankful that I grew up in that school and they taught me enough to where I knew what not to what to do and what not to and where to be," he said.
Dixon also said programs such as this one can help keep kids on the right path.
"The things that she is teaching (are) definitely beneficial because no child, not every child at this age, is getting this certain level teaching a certain level of instruction to give them the respect they need to have for certain authority -- also just these problem-solving mechanisms," he said.
It's a message made clear in the classroom daily.
"After hearing it enough times and hearing it a couple of times, it definitely changes my mindset to I don't have to succumb to what everybody sees me as," Dixon said. "I know I am somebody so long as I can see that myself, I'll be OK."