North Miami-Dade school gives lessons on anti-bullying, gets national honor

 

asteward@MiamiHerald.com

Students at St. Lawrence School excitedly filed into the sanctuary Thursday, singing along with pop princess Katy Perry’s popular hit, Roar.

They were about to receive an honor from Florida’s Anti-Defamation League for successfully completing the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying program.

The 166 students, from kindergarten through the eighth grade, had just finished learning about the effects of bullying and how to stand up for each other.

“The more we know about each other, the better we can understand each other,” said principal Dian Hyatt, who congratulated 30 of her students for being ambassadors and helping to spread anti-bullying messages to their classmates.

St. Lawrence, at 2200 NE 191st St., near North Miami Beach, joined more than 50 Florida schools that had earned the “No Place For Hate” designation by fulfilling the criteria established by the ADL.

Students created a movable wall filled with small, colorful tiles that carried messages like “love” and “peace” and hearts and rainbows. Each of the school’s students created a tile.

Students also memorized poems about love, kindness and generosity throughout the school year and recited them in class.

Also, students participated in a diversity exercise involving grains of rice from 17 different countries. They used the rice to discuss how to appreciate similarities and differences.

St. Lawrence religion and literature teacher Denise Broughton got the school involved in the ADL’s project after she was selected as one of 40 educators nationwide to visit Washington, D.C., in July to participate in an anti-Semitism program.

This inspired Broughton to take St. Lawrence’s anti-bullying efforts a step further and try the ADL program.

A donation from an anonymous benefactor allowed the school to bring in ADL representatives to talk to students.

The ADL’s anti-bullying campaign, which has been around for 15 years, has seen success because students can identify with the effects of bullying, said Lily Medina, the organization’s education director in Florida.

“They all get it because everyone’s been name-called at some point in their lives,” Medina said.

Near the end of the ceremony, Broughton handed out bright yellow stickers emblazoned with “No Place for Hate” to the students.

“There seems to be a peace among the students now,” said Broughton. “It gives me hope for the future.”

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