A schoolwide commitment to combating prejudice and creating an inclusive and supportive community will allow Duluth MS to join more than a dozen Gwinnett schools as a certified No Place For Hate® School. The school’s students and staff are dedicated to ensuring that Duluth is a bully-free zone, part of the school’s yearlong campaign to earn the designation through a national initiative sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
With an anti-bias, anti-bullying focus, the campaign encourages students to speak up when they see peers bullied or harassed, and speak out against prejudice and discrimination. With buy-in from the entire school, everyone is working together to create a welcoming community and share a common message—our school is No Place For Hate.
“The ‘No Place For Hate’ initiative has helped to foster a positive learning community at Duluth Middle School. With a focus on staff training and student education, the message that we all are valuable and worthy of respect is a part of how we do business at our school each day,” says Counselor Angela Jenkins who teamed with Nicole Colbert, a fellow counselor, and Principal Deborah Fusi to bring the initiative to the school.
To earn certification as a No Place for Hate School, schools follow a three-step process. First, student leaders join adults from the school and community in a committee that looks at the school climate and identifies ways to promote diversity and stop bullying. Second, the school community adopts a “Resolution of Respect” in which all students pledge to create a community that is No Place for Hate. And, third, schools conduct three or more activities during the school year to promote their No Place for Hate message.
“Duluth Middle School has been a true champion for building a safe and inclusive community,” says Erin Beacham, ADL’s education director for the Southeast. She notes that the school not only is pursuing “No Place for Hate” certification, but also has participated in ADL's "A Word of Difference Institute" anti-bias programs for their faculty, staff, and community members. “I am really looking forward to being able to present Duluth Middle School with their No Place for Hate banner, as well as working with them for years to come,” says Ms. Beacham.
Ms. Jenkins says the school’s 2016-17 anti-bullying campaign kicked off in August with a "No Place for Hate" workshop for teachers. A September rally introduced the concept to students, who enthusiastically embraced the campaign. All 1,400 students at Duluth MS signed pledge posters that have since been framed and put on display around the school. Students also participated in “Don’t be a Monster,” an anti-bullying assembly, in October.
Theater Arts student in Duluth’s Wildcat Players got into the act, writing and producing an anti-bullying play called “Two Way Mirror” which was performed for both classmates and the community. In addition, the school’s Marketing students developed animated presentations in “Powtoons” to share with their peers in morning announcements. Parent-student workshops on cyberbullying and bullying prevention and ongoing advisement lessons at all grade levels also spread the No Place For Hate message.
And that’s all just first semester! Ms. Jenkins says the planning committee will continue to develop activities and plan events to promote the anti-bullying pledge that the student body has taken, with a culminating celebration in May. Those year-long efforts will result in No Room For Hate certification, but, more importantly, a welcoming school community.
“We are working hard to make sure that every student feels that Duluth Middle is a No Place for Hate zone,” she says.
Along with Duluth MS, a number of Gwinnett schools are working toward the designation for 2016-17, including Anderson-Livsey ES, Arcado ES*, Berkeley Lake ES*, Berkmar MS, Chesney ES, Couch MS, Crews MS, Ferguson ES*, Lanier MS*, Magill ES*, Norton ES, Pinckneyville MS, Sycamore ES*, and White Oak ES. The one-year designation may be renewed on an annual basis for schools that continue their campaigns. Schools above with an asterisk were No Place for Hate Schools last school year, along with Collins Hill HS, Grayson HS, Kanoheda ES, McKendree ES, Mountain View HS, Northbrook MS, and Rock Springs ES. During the 2015-16 school year, more than 200 schools in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina participated in the initiative.
No Place For Hate Resolution of Respect
“I pledge from this day forward to do my best to combat prejudice and to stop those who, because of hate or ignorance, would hurt anyone or violate their civil rights. I will try at all times to be aware of my own biases and seek to gain understanding of those who I perceive as being different from myself. I will speak out against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will think about specific ways my community members can promote respect for people and create a prejudice-free zone. I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an innocent bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity, achieving equality and promoting inter-group harmony are the responsibilities of all people.”