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No Place for Hate Club at OWWMS works to make school more accepting and welcoming

March 14, 2019

No Place for Hate Club studentsMiddle school is a time of transition for students as they mature emotionally and physically while balancing more challenging academics. But students at Oliver W. Winch Middle School believe it can also be a time and place to learn kindness and develop lifelong friendships.

The work of the students and advisers in the No Place for Hate Club is helping to make the school more welcoming and accepting—and give students peer support they need.

“The club is really fun to be in because we get to help people,” said Mia Cosh, an eighth-grade student member. “It’s meaningful. We’re not going to be able to get rid of all the bias and bullying in the world, but activity by activity we’re changing that. We’re helping the world to be a better place.”

The No Place for Hate club stems from the work all six of the buildings schools have been doing over the course of the past several years with the Anti-Defamation League of New York State. By participating in a variety of activities each year, and having all students sign a respect pledge, all of the schools have been named “No Place for Hate” schools two years running. This year, middle school administrators and staff have been working especially hard to introduce the idea of “social comprehension,” or the ability to understand, listen to one another, understand each other’s needs and then be able to build a respectful community.

No Place for Hate Club 2“We’re not going to solve every student conflict and disagreement, and that’s okay,” said Superintendent of Schools Kristine Orr. “We believe in the power our students have to make a difference in their community, and the work of the kids at OWWMS is just one great example of this.”

This year, the NPFH club has worked on a postcard project, which ensured every student in every grade received a positive message from both an adult and a peer. The handwritten notes were encouraging and meant to be reminders to students that there are adults and peers throughout the building who are willing to support them and talk to them when they need help.

The club also received funding from the OWWMS Home School Association to participate in a Peer Leadership Training through the ADL. During the training, students explored their own identities, reflected on their own experiences with bias and stereotypes, and learned ways to combat different types of discrimination.

It’s already made a difference for sixth-grade student Issac Potter.

“Ever since the training, I’ve been better about hanging out with the right people—true friends who listen,” he said.

“The leadership training provided by the ADL had a major impact on our NPFH members at the middle school,” said club advisor and teacher April Nedwell. “It really pushed them to consider their own biases, and what they can do as individuals and as a group to fight against discrimination.”

Category: District News, Winch MS News