Teaching Tolerance

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Educators from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove recently stopped by Finley Middle School to present anti-bullying workshops, drawing a direct correlation between bullying and the Holocaust and the ultimate ramifications of such behavior.

Students were asked to discuss their thoughts to video images and various situations involving anti-Semitic, racially insensitive and bullying behavior. They also wrote down their reactions to posters containing similar intolerant messaging and were taught that not doing anything about it was unacceptable.

“Students were asked to be up-standers rather than bystanders,” said Anthony Swanwick of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, who conducted an exercise in the school auditorium in which students were asked to close their eyes and stand up from their chairs when a particular negative word that affected them was recited. “We are trying to help young people think about their behavior and how good it makes them feel to stand up for what is right,” added Mr. Swanwick.

School psychologist Courtney Chase coordinated the Center’s visit.

Additionally, Mr. Swanwick was on hand to present Finley eighth grader Maria Krisch with the Holocaust Center’s “Up-stander of the Month” award for May. Maria was recognized for supporting a fellow classmate who was previously picked on. Her promotion of respect and acceptance of all students is a powerful example to us all of how small actions can have a big impact. Maria’s Guidance Counselor, Gus Sirakis, nominated her for the award.