The Elwood Union Free School District is proud to announce that Elwood Middle School was recently designated a “No Place for Hate” school by The Anti-Defamation League.
The middle school will join 1,600 schools across the country who have partnered with the league to develop and institute programs designed to celebrate equity, acceptance and diversity. This self-directed program helps community members to take the lead on maintaining a positive school climate so all students can thrive.
“There has never been any place for hate at Elwood Middle School or any Elwood school,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert said. “This designation from the ADL should serve to remind all residents of the importance of having difficult conversations, celebrating diversity and acceptance of all students."
In September, the middle school created an ADL Committee comprised of students, teachers and parents, who identified the goals of the No Place for Hate campaign through a student survey. They focused on teaching our community members to identify hate, and to empower them with the skills to address it in a safe and educated manner.
The school kicked off the campaign with an assembly in November, when motivational speakers from the nonprofit organization, “Sweethearts and Heroes,” spoke with students about the impact bullying has on schools, neighborhoods and individuals. Students learned the importance of bystander empowerment, empathy and leadership.
Students learned the “the “No Place for Hate” pledge in their social studies classes and continued the work each month during the school’s Knights of the Round Table, or KORT, meetings, which focused on prejudice, discrimination, scapegoating and stereotyping. Students also learned and practiced ADL’s “Six Ways to be an Ally.”
“We are so proud of our school community for taking on this important initiative,” Principal Dr. Christina Sapienza said. “We know the work has just begun. This is a yearly designation that needs to be renewed each year with a commitment to listening to the voices of our students, and teaching them the skills they will need both in school and beyond to contribute to making their world a positive and peaceful place.”
Traditionally, the ADL holds a “Banner Ceremony” for all the designated schools in the New York State area in Manhattan. This year, the district is looking forward to a virtual celebration sometime in the future.