Great Path Academy Students Collaborate in Washington on Tools to Confront Hate and Bias

SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE December 2015

Great Path Academy Students Collaborate in Washington on Tools to Confront Hate and Bias

Great Path Academy students meet with Jonathan Greenblatt, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.  From left to right: Gifty Asante, Destiny Chiverton, Jonathan Greenblatt, Tahira Durant, and Bridget Shouldice
 
In Washington, D.C. on November 15-18, 2015, a diverse group of students from Connecticut embarked on a significant experience to apply lessons learned from the Holocaust to their own lives and lead the fight against bigotry and hate in their respective communities at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) 18th Annual Grosfeld Family National Youth Leadership Mission.
 
The mission involved 132 students from across the country.  Accompanied by the Great Path Academy Assistant Principal, Edward Jacobson, ten of these students contributing to the mission were Great Path Academy students, including 10 Connecticut high school students from Manchester, Newington, Hartford, Coventry, East Hartford and Madison. The students were selected for their extraordinary leadership qualities and demonstration of interest in issues of diversity.  
 
“It is critically important to be able to equip young people with the ability to not only understand issues of bias, bigotry and racism, especially given the past year’s troubling events across the country, but to equip them to be able to directly respond,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, who addressed the group. “The goal of the youth leadership mission is as relevant as ever today, and over the years, students have become so incredibly inspired to effect change in their own schools and neighborhoods upon returning from the trip. The mission really gets them thinking about combatting hate in a really positive way.”
 
The centerpiece of the mission focused on a significant amount of time at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where students learned about the persecution of Jews and other minorities during World War II, and examined contemporary issues of extremism, bigotry and genocide. The students also engaged in in-depth discussions about lessons that can be applicable in their individual lives and how they can play a part in fighting prejudice. During breakout sessions conducted by ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute facilitators, students shared their personal experiences with bullying, hatred and discrimination, and discussed how the lessons of the Holocaust can be applied today.  The students attended ADL’s 20th annual “In Concert Against Hate” on November 16 at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where heroes in the fight against hate and intolerance were honored. The student delegates also heard from the heroes that stood up against or were the victims of hate crimes.
 
Destiny Chiverton, a junior at Great Path Academy, reflected upon her experience upon returning home.  “It was awesome.  I really enjoyed being in small groups with kids from all across the U.S., from different states, because I got to see different perspectives on situations.”  She was in groups that discussed topics such as reasons why students in schools accept discrimination or accept the use of terms used to bring each other down, instead of trying to change it.  “I learned that it’s not always done purposefully, people do not realize how big of an impact calling someone a name can have,” she recalled.   “We talked a lot about stereotypes- not just with races, but also with religions, you realize that a lot of the jokes made in schools stem back to certain races.” The students were sent home with strategies to address these issues and to help to better their communities.  “One of the big things that we talked about was letting our schools know of the problems.  Also, how to help other students monitor themselves and watch what they are saying, think about what they are saying before they say it.  I know that here at Great Path Academy, the students who went on the trip want to talk to and train other GPA students to be more aware of the different issues going on and how to stand up to them and stop it at the source.” 
(Source- ADL Press Release)
 
 
Compiled and Submitted by
Anastasia DiFedele-Dutton
Magnet Theme Coach
Great Path Academy at Manchester Community College

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