Across Bloomfield Hills Schools this past semester, students have been hard at work to help our schools receive the No Place for Hate designation. An initiative of the Anti-Defamation League, No Place for Hate involves students leading the way, designing and implementing three activities over the course of a school year to gain the designation. Under the guidance of Margaret Schultz, BHS Director of Instructional Equity, and Carla Chennault, Education Director for the ADL, students across Bloomfield Hills Schools are empowered and excited to make our schools feel safe and secure for all. Schultz shares, "I am so excited about the work happening across the district, and am proud of our students and staff that have been so creative, thoughtful, and brave in their pursuit of equity. Our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League has been powerful, and I could not be more grateful for our relationship with them."
The first step was engaging students to understand and embrace the concepts. No Place for Hate pledge signings occurred in a variety of ways in each school. The pledge at the high school and middle school level includes the following six statements. Elementary grade pledges are a simpler variation of these ideas:
- I will seek to gain understanding of those who are different from myself.
- I will speak out against prejudice and discrimination.
- I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate.
- I will promote respect for people and help foster a prejudice-free school.
- I believe that one person can make a difference - no person can be an “innocent” bystander when it comes to opposing hate.
- I recognize that respecting individual dignity and promoting inter-group harmony are the responsibilities of all students.
Read below to see how each school’s students lead the way in this important work!
Conant Elementary School
The 4th grade NPFH committee attended a kickoff meeting with ADL’s read aloud presentation, Changing the World One Word at a Time. During that meeting, the committee created a plan for the year starting with a Pledge Tree. They have shared announcements and videos, and have had two assemblies. The committee members recited the pledge every day for a month before the tree went up. There was also an assembly to kick off R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder. The focus on uniqueness and kindness for the month of December was seen around the building. During February, the committee has decided to have a “Kindness” week with various activities that include service and messages of kindness. The committee will end the year with an NPFH walk in May.
Eastover Elementary School
A whole school assembly kicked off NPFH, during which the students talked about the pledge. All 3rd graders took a survey to indicate how they would like to be involved in this work. During the first meeting, 3rd grade student leaders helped create a video of 3rd graders presenting the pledge. Everyone signed the pledge, and it was posted in the school. The 3rd grade leadership team has met several times since rolling out NPFH in order to plan for a variety of school-wide activities for the remainder of the year.
Lone Pine Elementary School
All Lone Pine students watched the NPFH pledge video that the Lone Pine Student Action Team created, and students signed the pledge in their classrooms. Students also led read-alouds in each classroom based on the book Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds. They used speech bubbles and pictures to depict their reactions, which are hung up around the school and classrooms. Lunch and learn meetings are also being designed to provide feedback on school culture. Their ideas will be used to create a survey to be administered to the community.
Way Elementary School
A whole school assembly kicked off NPFH, during which students reviewed what it means to have Way PRIDE, which is the foundation of being a good citizen. All students attended their PRIDE Dens for more activities reinforcing PRIDE attributes, and then signed the pledge. Additional all-school assemblies will focus on the six components of the NPFH pledge. Way has formed a 4th grade Kindness Crew with 30 members. They meet twice a month and work on projects to build a positive, inclusive, and supportive school community. The Kindness Crew has written positive chalk messages; written encouraging notes to beginner readers, leaving them in random books in the media center; placed encouraging notes in random backpacks of students; cleaned the playground and school grounds; handed out kindness pencils to students showing kindness; wrote thank you notes to all the teachers for Thanksgiving; celebrated diversity and identities by creating a school quilt of traditions; and presented to the entire school community their mission, highlighting all the wonderful things they completed for the school. The Kindness Crew also reached out to Humble Designs and met with a representative to begin a gently used toy and book drive. The Kindness Crew will be collecting, sorting, and distributing these items to help families that have recently overcome homelessness.
East Hills Middle School
Over twenty 8th grade Student Senate members led the way with launching No Place For Hate during October’s annual Red Ribbon Week this year at East Hills. Throughout the week, Senate members advertised No Place for Hate, its pledge components, and met with classes to teach them about the program and its impact on school culture. Students went to the 4th & 5th grade classrooms and shared a slideshow and created scenarios of what it means to be an ally or upstander versus a bystander. Students wrote communications to be shared with families promoting the program and how it will enhance the sense of community and inclusion. The 8th graders also developed a digital pledge that was shared and signed at the end of October by nearly all students. In December, the 7th grade Student Senate members reflected on the meaning of each component of the NPFH pledge and surfaced equity and inclusion needs that will inform the next school-wide activity in February. They are currently working on building announcements, slideshows for both upper elementary and middle school classes, skits with discussion prompts, and a black/yellow dress-up day to promote unity.
Bloomfield Hills Middle School
Student Senate members from all grade levels took on NPFH challenges and opportunities. They focused largely on a Sense of Belonging. Students worked to create videos about people in our schools that can help. Additionally, Liza Weimer, author of The Assignment, visited BHMS and presented to the entire 8th grade about Weimer’s novel, sharing topics such as bias, micro- and macro-aggressions, which was a powerful experience for the 8th grade students. Second semester will be the kick off for the pledge and will also include slideshows for Lancer Time, during which students will learn about different cultures, learning differences, and medical conditions that many young people manage, like diabetes.
West Hills Middle School
The WHMS Student Senate created a slideshow, which introduced No Place for Hate and the kickoff events that they planned for the school community. They visited each grade to share the slideshow. The official pledge signing involved each student and staff member placing their painted handprints on the walls of the gymnasium corridor, with different paint colors representing each grade level. All WHMS students then engaged in a wide variety of activities in the Fieldhouse relating to each element of the pledge, helping students connect with the concepts of the six pledge components. WHMS students also participated in a No Place for Hate Spirit Week, where each day was again themed around the pledge. Some of the days included “Put Bullying to Rest” (pajama day) and “Hats Off to Good Choices” (hat day).
Bloomfield Hills High School
NPFH activities began during the students’ first two days of classes, to begin the school year with a positive, action-oriented mindset towards establishing a safe and accepting school environment. These activities included a student questionnaire, ways to help students learn about one another as a class community, training on the district’s Hate Incident Reporting tool, and the signing of the “No Place For Hate” pledge. The BHHS students are working on an anti-bullying presentation, and their plan is to present assemblies for the entire student body. Many of the affinity groups have created videos about what hate and bullying look like for their group. They campaign against and stand up to bullying. Another group of students is working on a diversity assembly similar to what was presented last year to the entire student body.
At the International Academy, the Social Justice Product Team found that becoming a designated No Place For Hate School aligned directly with what the student organization was already doing to create a safe and brave environment for the students and administrators. To focus on the importance of this, the Product Team organized a pledge signing, where everyone in the school signed to agree to make IA an official No Place For Hate School. The team then created an allyship presentation, to make the students and school as a whole aware of their role in this community. The theme of this presentation will be presented at least twice more this year, so that students can further understand the importance of allyship in such a diverse school, and so that IA can officially become a No Place For Hate School.
With a focus on social-emotional health and community involvement, incorporating work for No Place for Hate at Bowers Academy occurred very authentically. They began the year in a reflective fashion with a symbolic burn of the past. Students communicated old habits that they carry, wrote them out, and burned them in a campfire. With the ashes of the past, they were ready to begin the first formal NPFH activity. They read, analyzed, and personalized the No Place for Hate Pledge to fit their specific community needs. This was done during the Daily Circle, which is a time to process powerful content such as student struggles, hopes, and more, directly aligning with the NPFH mission. This reflective practice takes place authentically in their unique space and can be done while visiting with the animals or on adventures in the woods. An additional example of the Bowers community’s commitment to being an inclusive environment is the cultural observances that are celebrated during Synergy each month when students explore various customs and traditions. An upcoming event includes a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts to investigate the way that art supports a deeper understanding of culture and diversity.
Wing Lake Developmental Center
Pledge signing occurred during Curriculum Night in October, during which students signed the pledge with a thumbprint as their signature. They created a collage in the shape of a big heart, which is visible in the hallway. More collages will be added to this as the pledge is signed each year. Several teachers translated the pledge into AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) so that Wing Lake students can more easily understand, communicate, and access the pledge. Wing Lake Developmental Center is the first school in the world to have created an accessible, picture-based No Place For Hate Pledge in Universal Core Language according to the Anti-Defamation League. The NPFH work has been incorporated into lessons, such as books, videos, and visuals that are shared with each activity in which students participate. Students continue to contribute to the community such as having a mitten drive, writing letters to troops, and visiting Gleaner’s Food Bank.