The Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education held its annual reorganization meeting on Jan. 2.
Ted Shinske was reinstated as president of the board, and David Stow was reinstated as vice president.
Members of the board Joseph Borucki and John Jeffers were reappointed. Evesham’s representative, newcomer Joanne Sanferraro, was sworn in.
Following the reorganization portion of the meeting, regular action was taken on the agenda.
All four schools held a moment of silence Dec. 21, a week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
Additionally, students, faculty and parents received a letter explaining the schools remain safe.
“They were reminded that all our preventative measures that we have across the district to prevent a security breach,” said superintendent Carol Birnbohm. “Additionally, the principals are gathering for any improvement on procedures and will report back to [head of security] Mr. Kehoe for further review.”
Birnbohm announced the district and each separate school is currently in the process of applying to be a No Place For Hate District and Schools respectively.
The application process began last spring, and each school is required to conduct three activities in line with the Anti Defamation League’s requirements to prevent bullying.
Each school must take a few steps toward becoming a No Place For Hate school including, creating a committee and assessing the school, have students sign the Resolution of Respect which states, “we pledge, from this day forward, to do our best to combat prejudice and to stop those who violate the civil rights of others. We will seek to understand those who are different. We believe that one person can make a difference and that no person should stand by when it comes to opposing hate. We will speak out against prejudice and discrimination. We will reach out to those who are victims of hate. We know that we must all promote harmony, equality and respect. By signing this pledge, we commit ourselves to creating a community that is No Place for Hate.”
The final steps of the process include publicizing the message through posters and choosing and completing three or more school-wide activities promoting respect and celebration of diversity within a year.
“It really helps us support our anti-bullying policy,” said Birnbohm.
As part of the required portion of publicizing the message, each school created a poster depicting its upstanders, a group of students trained to intervene should a bullying crisis arise.
The posters are also placed in the kindergarten through the eighth grade district for its respective sending district.
“Upstanders are students that aren’t silent in the face of bullying, harassment and inappropriate comments. These students will interrupt and define. They’ll say ‘hey that’s not cool’ or ‘let’s not go there’ and then they’ll define it. They’ll say ‘that’s not cool because you’re picking on someone’s race,’” said Birnbohm.
According to Chris Heilig, director of programs and planning, the initiative affects the parents, too.
“Not only did the students sign the declaration, but the parents saw it and signed it on back-to-school night,” he said.
The last portion of No Place for Hate, according to Heilig, will be a viewing of the production of Dear Esther performed by the Goodwin Holocaust Museum located in Cherry Hill.
“Last year only Shawnee did it,” he said. “This year, each building will see the production. It falls in line with the juniors history classes as well.”
In other news: the district will be utilizing its own evaluation system for teachers, saving the district $70,000 annually.
Additional regular action was taken on the agenda.
The next meeting will be held Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the district building located at 93 Willow Grove Rd. in Shamong.