By Jillian Haguisan
In 1985, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) created the “No Place for Hate” initiative to promote inclusivity and safety within schools. Since then, over 1,600 schools across the United States have implemented the program—including Oyster Bay High School.
Mrs. Rebecca Menuzzo, OBHS Assistant Principal for grades 7-9, organized the program. Beginning in late January, Mrs. Menuzzo encouraged students who demonstrate leadership qualities, from all grades, to join.
“Our mission is to promote an inclusive and equitable school environment where all students can thrive,” Aurora Aschettino, one of the members, says.
Together, the organization began planning how to implement the program in Oyster Bay.
On Monday, March 8th, Oyster Bay High School introduced students to the movement by presenting a video of students and teachers explaining what the program entails and what they, as individuals, personally advocate for.
Throughout the week, the morning announcements reminded students not to tolerate hate or discrimination. First period teachers also handed out gifts to students each day, including wrist bands, bookmarks, stickers, and candy. Additionally, in between periods, uplifting music—ranging from “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alicia Keys to “All Star” by Smash Mouth—played over the loudspeaker.
Students were encouraged to dress up according to a different theme each day. Monday was Pajama Day to “put hate to sleep.” Tuesday was Jersey Day to “team up against hate.” Wednesday was Wack Wednesday; students wore mismatched patterns and clothes because “hate is crazy.” Thursday was White-Out Day, on which people wore white (or black or yellow) to “make hate disappear.” Finally, Friday was 90s Day, where students and staff donned 90s clothing because it is “time to stop hate.”
All of the fun events reminded students of what the week represented: eliminating hate in school. A bulletin board stood next to the entrance of the lower gym lobby, where students could sign their names as well as write what they “stand up for.” Some answers included “empowerment,” “equity,” “minorities,” and “kindness.”
Students who signed their name agreed to the pledge: “I will seek to gain understanding of those who are different from myself. I will speak out against prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will promote respect for people who promote a prejudice-free school. I believe that one person can make a difference. I recognize that respecting individual dignity and promoting intergroup harmony are the responsibilities of all students.”
Although the week of “no hate” has ended, OBHS students intend to continue the work. “There’s a lot to work on,” one member said, “to make our school an equitable and inclusive atmosphere for all.”