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15-month-old's killing sparks efforts by Langley students

| Friday, June 7, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Classmates Mhauri Gilliam (left sitting), 14, laughs with Alexis Demko, (center sitting), 13, DeOndre Murray (left standing), 14, Haley Quick (right sitting), 14, all of Sheraden, and other classmates from the Pittsburgh Langley Justice League during their bake sale at Pittsburgh Langley K-8 benefitting the family victim of murder victim Marcus White, Jr. The 18-month-old toddler was killed recently in an East Hills shooting, and the news hit Langley students hard. In response to the tragic death, eighth-graders from one of the school's intervention groups came together and formed the Pittsburgh Langley Justice League. Also pictured here in the back row from right to left are Citiparks recreation leader Tosha Brown, 31, of North Oakland, Todd Neal, 14, of Sheraden, and Rashawn Gibson (back in red), 14, of Sheraden.

Students at Pittsburgh Langley K-8 said they are all too familiar with shootings and violence in their city neighborhoods.

“A lot of people dying are family members to friends and people we know,” DeOndre Murray, 14, of Sheraden said. “It's getting bad.”

When Murray and his classmates heard Marcus White Jr., 15 months, was fatally shot on May 21 in East Hills, they decided to take action.

The boy was killed at a neighborhood cookout. Police have made no arrests.

The eighth-grade enrichment class students, who call themselves the “Langley Justice League,” organized a bake sale to benefit Marcus' family and raise awareness of the toddler's death.

Students partnered with the Pittsburgh Department of Parks and Recreation to bake cupcakes and cookies with professional chefs at the International Culinary School at The Art Institute. Selling the homemade goods and donated cakes during lunchtime Wednesday and Thursday, they raised nearly $500.

“We got to do something for a good cause and made a difference,” Todd Neal, 14, of Sheraden said.

Students designed T-shirts and wore buttons with an image of White during the sale and decorated the school with posters.

For Langley teacher Shelia May-Stein, the bake sale was proof her students can make a difference in the community.

The efforts of Langley students are often overlooked because many come from poverty, she said.

As summer vacation approaches, some members of the Justice League will leave Langley and head to high school, and most said they hope to attend college.

“It's a chance for us to show the world who we are,” Daniel Hillen, 16, of Sheraden said. “There's still hope in the world.”

Christina Gallagher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5637 or cgallagher@tribweb.com.

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