The Lenape Regional High School District is a “No Place for Hate,” and now for the second year, the four high schools in the district have banners to let all those who pass through the halls know that hate will not be tolerated.
No Place For Hate is an Anti-Defamation League-sponsored program in which schools complete anti-bias and anti-bullying projects to improve school culture and work toward putting an end to discrimination based on race, gender, class, size, sexual orientation, religion, language spoken and more.
For a school to earn distinction as No Place for Hate, that school must form a No Place for Hate committee, which over the course of the school year then implements different projects that bring students together and teach them to show greater respect for any differences that might exist between them.
On Oct. 8, four separate ceremonies were held at Cherokee, Lenape, Shawnee and Seneca High Schools to celebrate each having completed the 2013–2014 school year in the program.
Lisa Friedlander, No Place for Hate project director, was on hand at each ceremony to speak to students from the different schools’ No Place For Hate committees, in addition to various student leaders and school clubs and organizations.
Friedlander said each No Place for Hate committee from each school reports back to her, and with with comparisons from pre-assessments to post-assessments, she fully believes the program makes a difference in the culture at the schools.
“From what we’ve seen, from this anecdotal evidence and from the assessments, is that students do report feeling safer, especially to report bullying if they see or hear it, and feel as though the administration will respond to their complaint or report,” Friedlander said.
Friedlander also said the administration and teaching staff have responded positively to the program because it gives them a catchphrase to use when addressing any bias or bullying behavior or language used in the school.
According to Friedlander, a big part of the program’s effectiveness is getting members of the school community to come together on projects and really think about the issues going on in their school.
“No Place for Hate is customized to each individual school’s needs, and therefore the projects that they do, that each school chooses to do, are most relevant to their school community and their issues,” Friedlander said.
For Cherokee High School, some projects completed in the 2013–2014 school year included:
• The No Place for Hate mural painted in the Diversity Hallway, which now helps the students that pass by it to remember to always work toward making their school a place where hate should never be tolerated
• The Rock Against Hate talent show, which used verbal and visual aids to remind people about the message of No Place for Hate
• The World Café, which allowed students to participate in a day long activity where they ate foods from different countries and celebrated diversity by listening to entertainment and music from different cultures.
Having completed the programs, Friedlander’s message to students was that she hoped they would keep the No Place for Hate message with them even as the left their particular schools.
“People say things to make people feel hurt, to make them feel worthless and belittled, so if you carry the No Place For Hate Message with you even as you leave these doors, you have the power to stand up to someone…by just saying a few words,” Friedlander said.