An advisory committee of Westfield High School students, staff, and parents recently gathered for training in the WHS library as part of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) “No Place for Hate” Program.
“It’s an amazing thing when a school decides to be proactive and cultivate a positive school culture,” said program facilitator Rhetta Morgan at the start of the Nov. 27 training session. “It starts a ripple.”
The high school, along with Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate School, are among approximately 1,600 schools across the United States to be chosen to participate in the “No Place for Hate” program, which requires schools to form an advisory committee and design and implement several school-wide activities to combat bias and bullying. As part of the program, students also sign a “No Place for Hate” pledge to seek understanding of those who are different from themselves, to promote respect, and to speak out against prejudice and discrimination.
On Nov. 19, all WHS students heard from Detective David D’Amico, chief investigator for the Middlesex County Department of Corrections, who speaks to schools, community groups, and law enforcement officials across New Jersey about the history of hate and the ways in which hate and bias reveal themselves. Calling the students “heroes, leaders, and role models,” D’Amico encouraged them to recognize bias, respond to it and report it.
Additionally, WHS Assistant Principal Warren Hynes and six students traveled to New York City on Nov. 21 to attend the ADL’s “Never is Now” Summit, hearing from a full day of speakers about the impact of hate and the ways to combat it. “Bigotry affects us all,” ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt told the students who represented schools from around the U.S. “No one should tolerate it. Speak up when you hear someone demeaning another person.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the “No Place for Hate” program this year,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “We continue to work at every level to address the climate and culture of our schools so that our students and staff feel safe and supported.”