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Mark your calendars for: Tuesday, 2/1/11 at 7:30PM at the Irvington Town Hall Theater.
As many of you know, a Diversity Task Force was formed last spring by School District administration whose objective was to coordinate with our Middle School and High School Principals to research and execute a plan to raise awareness and combat issues of harassment, bullying and acts of bias within our community. At the same time, Governor Patterson signed into law a similar mandate, requiring all NYS public school districts to adopt and enact an anti-bullying plan by 2012.
The Diversity Task Force members include several parents, our Chief of Police and Youth Officers, a Village Trustee, both Principals and our Director of Pupil Personnel Services. We worked throughout the Summer and Fall to research the causes of some negative behaviors, to understand the roots of the issue, to quantify the issue by implementing an anonymous student survey and to meet with nationally renowned experts (including the Head of Diversity at IBM, among others) to select a program(s) to remedy our issues.
Our goal was to find the most expedient and cost effective way to educate on the consequences of negative behaviors. We wanted to create a dialogue that spanned from the school to the community at large so we could embrace the issue as a village - and work to resolve it as a village. We were quite fortunate to assemble a group of professionals who volunteered their time, and were committed to raising awareness, without raising tax dollars. A foundation was created to fund two programs researched by the Task Force and ultimately selected by the Principals: Facing History/Facing Ourselves and Restorative Practices. The PTSA has generously contributed to funding these programs thus far, and we will solicit further support from individuals, businesses and other foundations. Each program has proven effective in positively shaping character development in students.
Our village could easily have turned away from addressing these sticky topics. We are incredibly proud of our Chief of Police (Mike Cerone), our Principals and especially Scott Palermo for his guidance and experience in implementing a program of this magnitude in his prior district, as well as the many other village officials who worked alongside us in their commitment to a truthful and effective response. Ultimately however, it was the kids who decided it was time to address the issue, after being presented with data on how many of their peers have been effected by bullying, harassment or discrimination. We wouldn't have expected less, and believe that by bringing some issues to the surface, without placing judgment or blame, we can work together to resolve them.
We invite you to see for yourselves a short film some of the High School students made on the topic.Please mark your calendars for: Tuesday, 2/1/11 at 7:30PM at the Irvington Town Hall Theater.
In addition to the movie screening, there will be statements by Students, Principals (David Sottile and Scott Mosenthal) as well as the Director of Pupil Personnel Services (Scott Palermo). They will be describing their initial plans to provide our kids with the character education tools they need to make positive decisions at school, and later on as they enter the workplace/college, etc. There will be time for questions and answers at the close.
I hope that the village will welcome the efforts so many have made to make Irvington the #1 place to live for all the right reasons. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Michael ZeldesChair, Diversity Task Force