To address the unfortunate incident at North Shore Middle School involving racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found on campus, the administration along with students, faculty and staff held a day dedicated to “Town Hall” style forums for each grade level on Friday, March 24th. Principal Dr. Marc Ferris stated, “Obviously, this is NOT something we will tolerate or accept in our school community. Our forums were held for many reasons including to discuss what bias hate crimes are, how they relate to history and current events, why it is so important to stand together against hate, and how students can take specific actions to embrace and support each other in our learning community.”
Leading up the “Town Hall” style forums, Principal Dr. Ferris said, “Over 50 members of our student government worked on an awareness campaign to demonstrate our united front in believing that ALL STUDENTS must have a safe and caring school to learn in. We invited all of our students to participate in the planning of the events as well as to participate in the upcoming events related to this awareness campaign.” Additionally, parents and members of the community were asked to get involved in making a positive difference in our schools.
On March 24th, Dr. Ferris began the forums with his personal experiences of being a victim of bullying and a target of discrimination. Eighth graders presented a slide presentation displaying symbols of hatred (including members of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), swastikas, and the confederate flag). They discussed how these symbols of hatred were prevalent in our history and still exist today not only on Long Island but around the world. The eighth graders also emphasized “Why your words matter” and why it is so important to stand together against bullying and hate. Middle school students were joined by groups of their peers from the high school and asked throughout the forums to discuss in groups their feelings about hatred, bullying, and related topics. In addition, each grade level was asked to make posters as they embraced efforts to move forward together and convey positive feelings of what they really wanted North Shore Middle School to stand for. Members of the faculty also shared their very personal experiences. If you visit the middle school, you can see these beautiful posters in most of the hallways.
Principal Ferris said, “As I watched our high school and middle school students interact during these meetings, I felt proud of the work they were doing and the discussions they were having together.” Guest speakers from the police department and the Holocaust Museum were also invited to speak to the students.
Principal Ferris concluded by saying, “Mostly, we want all of our students and parents to know that North Shore Middle School is a place where student voices matter, where all people are valued, and where incidents like this are dealt with and addressed.” He added, “It was heartwarming and inspiring to be visited by so many students, parents, and teachers that were outraged and wanted to take action to make a difference in our school community. There is so much good here at North Shore Middle School and so much to be proud of. It should not become lost to us.”