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Middle School Knights take a stand against bullying

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Elwood Middle School students learned an important lesson about bullying during an Anti-Defamation League No Place for Hate assembly on Nov. 12.

Led by Tom Murphy, co-founder of Sweethearts and Heroes, students learned about the five “bully buttons:” perspective, hope, sweethearts, jump into action and heroes.

Sweethearts and Heroes is made up of motivational speakers who work to help educate students about the impact bullying has on schools, neighborhoods and individuals. Additionally, the team teaches the importance of bystander empowerment, empathy and leadership.

The first step is to recognize the four characteristics of bullying: habitual, intimidation, preying on smaller or weaker people and intentional. Mr. Murphy explained that in order to eradicate bullying, students must share the same perspective. He proceeded to ask the middle schoolers “do people who get bullied deserve it?” Not a single student raised their hand. Yet, 60% of approximately 50 million public school students do in fact believe that to be true. The reason being, most students, when asked the question, are not thinking about their peers sitting next to them. Instead, they are thinking about their friends and family. 

He added that every person has the ability to spread H.O.P.E., which he said stands for “hold on, possibilities exist.”

“You’re the solution,” Mr. Murphy said. “You’re the key to solving it forever.”

To drive that message home, he passed the microphone to his friend and colleague, Rick Yarosh, a retired U.S. Army sergeant whose body was severely burned after his tank was blown up in Iraq in 2006. Mr. Yarosh explained that we all have the ability to be sweethearts, or “carriers of hope.” Those who act on those notions are known as heroes. 

“I’m here to let all of you know what you’re capable of. What you can do for other people. What you have inside of you. That thing called hope,” he said. 

Principal Christina Sapienza explained that the assembly was organized and paid for by the Elwood Middle School Parent Teacher Association as a way to kick off the school’s Anti-Defamation League: No Place for Hate Campaign. Students learned about the No Place for Hate Pledge in their social studies classes earlier this month and signed the pledge during their lunch periods on Nov.12. Students will continue the great work of this organization in their Knights of the Round Table, or KORT, classes, where they will learn how to be an ally. 

Following the assembly, Mr. Yarosh and Mr. Murphy spent the rest of the day at the middle school and ran breakout sessions for students and staff to empower them further to create environments of hope and respect.


Elwood names October students of the month

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Four John H. Glenn High School students – including freshman Michelle Bartalotta, sophomore Grace Porter, junior Sean Ryan and senior Kerri Rhatigan – were honored as the school’s October Students of the Month on Nov. 6.

The fairly new initiative was launched in September as a way to recognize students not just for their academic achievements but for their ability to uphold the district’s four R’s: respect, responsibility and to form positive relationships. 

The students were nominated by their classmates and were ultimately selected by the Student of the Month Faculty Committee. 

Elwood teachers learn importance of news literacy

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In a world where individuals can access information with the touch of a button, it’s important for teachers and students to understand that not all information can be trusted. That’s why, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert invited Howard Schneider, executive director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, to speak at Superintendent’s Conference Day on Nov. 5. 

With the implementation of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s easy to read or share unverified information. In fact, numerous studies have shown that false information is six times more likely than reliable news to be spread.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the three different types of “information pollution,” including misinformation, which is the unintentional spread of unverified information, disinformation or “fake news,” which is intentionally fabricated, and malinformation, which is typically used to undermine or attack others. 

Each of those falls within one of four “information neighborhoods,” which include promotion, entertainment, or raw information. The fourth neighborhood is journalism. Only information that is verified, independent and accountable falls within this category. Prof. Schneider warned that if just one of those is missing, the information is not factual and it is now news. 

The goal of the News Literacy program is to help students develop critical thinking skills, interrogate rather than consume information and to read “laterally” and “become your own fact-checker.” “We are all vulnerable,” he said. 

Recently, Schneider has partnered with local organizations and school districts across Long Island to spread the News Literacy message. “It’s way too late to be taught at the university level,” he said. “It needs to be brought into high schools and middle schools.”

Those “lighthouse districts” work with Stony Brook University to fully integrate the News Literacy program into their curriculum. Dr. Bossert said that the district’s administration is inspired to apply for a $35,000 grant to do so but ultimately will leave it up to the teachers to decide. Based on an initial response, all of the teachers who attended the keynote address were in favor of implementing the program into the district’s schools.

Subaru loves learning at Boyd

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James H. Boyd Intermediate School was recently awarded a $1,000 Staples gift card from Huntington Subaru as part of the Subaru Loves learning initiative. Additionally, the school was selected to receive 150 STEAM related books to help Boyd’s students foster a love of reading and science. 

Subaru of America Inc. and other retailers have partnered with Staples and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to show their appreciation to teachers across the country.

“We are excited that Boyd has been selected for this program by Huntington Subaru,” Principal Denise Toscano said. “The students are so excited to learn about all the topics.”

Halloween at Harley Avenue is a huge hit

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Students at Harley Avenue Primary School paraded down the hallways as cowboys, dinosaurs, witches and mermaids on Halloween before heading to the school’s annual Harvest Festival.

Every year, the school PTA sponsors and coordinates the event, which included many Halloween-themed stations throughout the school. In the library, student picked and decorated pumpkins and, in the gym, students stuck their hands inside “mystery boxes” and tried to guess what was in them. Additional activities included pumpkin catapults, bobbing for apples, hula-hoop pumpkin ring toss and other fun-filled activities.