From Tolerance to Acceptance – Pelham, NY

On Wednesday, May 18, Judy Shepard will come to Pelham to address 8th through 12th grade students, faculty and residents as part of the Ingalls Seminar, a program begun in the 1980’s to connect students to the world by addressing issues of importance.  In choosing this year’s speaker, the Ingalls Task Force pointed to instances of bullying and suicide in high schools and colleges across the country as well as the continued presence of genocide around the world.  “Diversity in our schools is increasing,” said supervisors Maria Thompson and Jessica Vitale. “The Task Force recognizes the need for us all to embrace this diversity. We will start by helping our students to examine closely the full range of responses and their implications. In the spirit of the Ingalls Seminar, we also want to give our students the tools to become global citizens when they leave Pelham.”

In addition to her evening presentation, Mrs. Shepard will speak during the day to 9th and 10th grade students.  A live video feed will be set up for 8th graders.  During the week of May 18, New York State Bar Association lawyers will also meet with eleventh and twelfth grade students via their social studies classes.  The lawyers will address issues of cyber-bulling and intolerance as well as the legal implications surrounding both issues.

The Task Force will continue with the theme of  From Tolerance to Acceptance throughout next year.  In the fall, fifth through eighth grade students will experience Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott, the first person killed at Columbine High School in 1999.  Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for this program, which has been called “life-changing.”  The students will participate in morning assemblies comprised of a multi media presentation and discussion on effecting positive change. In the afternoon a group of approximately 80 students will participate in a peer training session, which is designed to give student leaders in each building the tools and capacity to engage students in their schools in positive change.  An evening program will allow parents and community members to share in a similar experience. What is unique about Rachel’s Challenge is the follow up in which Friends of Rachel Clubs are established. The Club will provide ongoing support through the help of a consultant, Webinars, and other resources during the 2011/12 school year.

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