SCHOOLS AFFIRM COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING RESPECT FOR
DIVERSITY AND ANTI- BIAS EFFORTS
In separate ceremonies on October 9 and 10, 2013, the students and faculty from all four Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) schools celebrated their designations as No Place for Hate (NPFH), having completed a year of anti-bias and anti-bullying programs. Lisa Friedlander, No Place for Hate Project Director, attended the ceremonies and presented each school and the district administration with their official designation banners.
To earn this distinction, the schools and the district each formed a No Place for Hate committee, adopted a resolution pledging to create a more inclusive school and district, and implemented a number of projects promoting respect for differences.
“Students and staff in each of our schools take great pride in their distinct cultures,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Birnbohm. “But more important, the No Place for Hate designation demonstrates they share an unwavering commitment to the Lenape District’s mission and beliefs, which include creating a school community where every student is valued and treated with respect.”
Projects completed during the 2012-2013 school year at Cherokee High School include the AIR (Accountability, Integrity and Respect) program, which included lessons that explored what it means to be a “Cherokee Chief” based on AIR’s core values. Juniors at Cherokee attended the play “Dear Esther”, about a Holocaust survivor’s experiences, then shared what they learned with the rest of the school through an article in the school newspaper and an anti-bullying assembly. Finally, all students had their pictures taken for a large, inclusive school mural, “Through Our Eyes,” designed to show togetherness through diversity.
At Shawnee High School, public service announcements (PSAs) were created to spread the No Place for Hate message and encouraged students to sign the NPFH Resolution of Respect. After reading the Resolution of Respect, students in all English classes wrote a letter to the building principal offering ideas about how to make Shawnee a No Place for Hate school. Throughout the year, the administration had candid conversations about
bullying and continued creating and airing PSAs to encourage students to stand up and do their part to stop bullying, making them aware of their role as the first line of defense.
Lenape High School kicked off their No Place for Hate program with a whole school march, while Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speeches played over the PA system. Classes were presented with historical facts about the civil rights movement and viewed a video of Dr. King's address. All students, staff, and community members were invited to a Harriet Tubman assembly after school. Also, as part of their No Place for Hate club, students created “ID posters”, which gave tips on how they could "Interrupt and Define" inappropriate comments or actions, developing a culture that cultivates upstanders. Finally, the students participated in a Mix-it-Up-Day during lunch periods. As students entered the cafeteria, they were given a colored index card that corresponded with a table where they were directed to sit. This strategy enabled students to sit with random students, other than their usual lunch friends.
Students at Seneca High School learned about respect for diversity by participating in a No Place for Hate Poster/Collage Contest and ran a public service announcement during homeroom that described the NPFH Resolution of Respect. The week culminated with the judging of the posters and the signing of the Resolution. The students at Seneca participated in a Mix-it-Up-Day during all lunch periods. Finally, all students engaged in small group discussions during English classes on how to be an upstander to bullies rather than being a bystander.
In addition to projects at each school, there were several district-wide projects, including an Upstander Poster Series that mobilized all community stakeholders including students, parents, staff, and administration to create a culture that supports all of the No Place for Hate initiatives. LRHSD students modeled for the posters and were also trained on how to be an upstander, whose ultimate goal is to prepare communities to reduce power-based personal violence including bullying.
The poster and mission were distributed through the community generating support and collaborative dialogue about the program. Throughout the district, students also attended a performance of the play “Dear Esther” and participated in educational activities regarding lessons of the past and the effects of prejudice and hatred. History teachers led students in class discussions prior to the performance regarding the historical perspective of racial, prejudice, and discriminatory acts. Students from each school submitted articles about the “Dear Esther” presentation to the school newspapers and the district and school eNewsletters that are distributed to stakeholders across the community.
Finally, across the district, LRHSD personnel viewed a video explaining the movie “Paperclips”, a documentary about a Holocaust remembrance project. Following, all students and staff were given a school color paperclip to wear. This project mobilized all stakeholders including students, parents, staff, administration, and community to create a profound lesson in tolerance.
“The Lenape Regional High School District has a strong tradition of creating a culture that encourages the appreciation of diversity,” according to Chris Heilig, District Affirmative Action Officer. “We are proud of the efforts of our students and staff to receive the No Place for Hate designation affirming our belief in treating every person with respect.”
This is the first year that the Lenape Regional High School District and all of its schools received the designation banners. The schools join nearly 220 schools across eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware currently participating in the No Place for Hate program, following Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s endorsement in 2006.