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While most of the world was focused on the concept of “love” on Feb. 14, Wantagh Middle School students, faculty and staff imagined a world without “hate” during No Place for Hate Day. Throughout the school day, students participated in content-based activities where they ruminated about the promotion of tolerance, acceptance and kindness toward others in the school and global communities. 

English language arts teacher Kristin Picuillo, who directed the event, explained that lessons about these important concepts were infused into every aspect of the curriculum with videos, reading material, physical education activities, artwork and meaningful discussion. 

“The students did not simply touch on the concepts of kindness, acceptance and tolerance, but were instead immersed in these topics all day long,” Ms. Picuillo said. “It’s a multi-faceted approach that had the school community thinking throughout the day.”

Wantagh Middle School was recognized for the past two consecutive years by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the nation’s 1,600 No Place for Hate Schools. This prestigious designation was accomplished through the sponsorship of activities that promote acceptance, tolerance and kindness on campus and by sending a clear message throughout the school that all students have a place to belong. No Place for Hate Day is only one of the activities planned for this school year.

During advisory periods, students watched a video, “Imagine a World Without Hate,” which referenced notable persons killed due to crimes based on discrimination such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank. World Languages students read a Korean folktale, “Heungbu and Nolbu: a Korean Story” about two brothers, one kind and one selfish. Classes then compared this story to similar themes in folktales from the countries of their language study. Students also discussed the “Sesame Street” writers’ purpose in including Oscar the Grouch in a show with such a happy tone.  

During physical education, students played the game “Cross Over the Line.” The teacher read a statement and asked students to cross a line if a statement applied to them, the purpose being to assist individuals in realizing they have more in common with peers than they think. The school also hosted a Mix It Up lunch activity, where new acquaintances played ice-breaker games.

In music classes, students listened to and analyzed song lyrics that promote peace, respect and a hate-free world, such as John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Art, technology, business management, family and consumer sciences and printmaking students also constructed a tree out of butcher paper and added the names of students and faculty on the trunk and branches. They also created leaves with positive quotes about respect, kindness and acceptance. The tree will be displayed in a central location.

In math, students analyzed the impact of social media on teens and recorded the effects using a Google survey. The impact of racism on health was also explored and discussed in health classes. Science students watched “The Present” and engaged in a discussion about disabilities and acceptance. They also researched information on prosthetics.

Ms. Picuillo noted that throughout the day students and faculty shared anecdotes of instances where tolerance, respect and acceptance was present. “One of the benefits of the day was that students got to see a different side of their teachers. They saw each of them as a person,” she said. “This day really brought the community together.”