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not in our school

We were honored to witness students from Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio as they trained elementary school students to stand up to bullying.  Last week, NIOT producer Kelly Whalen and I traveled to Cleveland to film Not In Our School segments at two local high schools. Peer to peer learning is a core practice in Lori Urogody-Eiler’s Facing History class—and her students have found a way to pass on her methods.  Alana  Ferguson  remembers the regular harassment she received for being “too studious” in elementary school.  Alana shared a story about being thrown into a trash can, and told her fellow students how painful it was to go to school and stay focused on her school work.  The perpetrators include some of her current classmates in Ms. U’s class.
  Students from Palo Alto spoke passionately about their experiences dealing with ethnic and anti-gay slurs and cyberbullying at a Not In Our Schools event held at the Media Center last month. The school-community conversation focused on bullying and strategies for how to be an upstander. Here is a powerful example from the event.   A high school student talks about being the target of an ethnic slur on Facebook as part of a conversation about cyberbullying. The event started off with The Working Group’s film Not In Our School: Palo Alto, which features leaders behind last year’s “Not In Our Schools” month, as well as highlights from the different activities across the district. Following the film, Becki Cohn-Vargas from the Palo Alto Unified School District led the group in discussion, touching on hate slurs, bullying, and standing up to make schools safe and inclusive. Here is a teacher talking about her experience confronting hateful comments in her classroom:
By Brian Lau As the fourth annual “Not In Our Schools” month in Palo Alto comes to a close, we wanted to share some of the inspiring activities from students across the district. Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School each dedicated a full week of events to promote acceptance and diversity, with daily activities focusing on students as “upstanders” — those who do not simply stand by in the face of injustice, but act to make change. Here are few highlights from both campuses. Gunn High School: You Are Not Alone
  On Wednesday, April 1, over 160 community members gathered at JLS Middle School in Palo Alto to watch the premiere screening of Not In Our School: Palo Alto. The film looks at Palo Alto Unified School District’s “Not In Our Schools” month, where across the district, students in elementary, middle, and high schools participate in activities centered around fostering safe school environments and ending intolerance. The event, which drew many students, teachers, parents, and concerned members of the community, began with opening remarks by Becki Cohn-Vargas, PAUSD district official and one of the lead organizers for Not In Our Schools month; The Working Group’s Patrice O’Neill; and PAUSD Board Member Barbara Klausner.
  As a Resident Assistant (RA) at Okada, Stanford’s Asian American ethnic-themed dorm, Takeo Rivera helped raise awareness about campus acts of intolerance after his dorm was the subject of an anti-Asian backlash in the spring of 2007.   Here’s some excerpts from the interview. These predominantly white fraternities would pass by Okada and would shout various things. They would shout in mock Asian accents things like “F— Okada,” Azia Kim this, Azia Kim that. Each time I would sort of pursue them and tell them to disperse and eventually they would. And in this third incident, someone urinated on the lawn of the dorm and someone shouted, “Put that away, they don’t want to see any non-Asian (expletive) here.” I was able to recognize specific individuals in the group and I knew what fraternity they belonged to, so I was able to pursue that further. The problem, though, was that at Stanford, while we have sort of a working definition for acts of intolerance, there was no protocol to follow at the time, procedurally, to confront these acts of intolerance.
  We’ve just released the latest Not In Our School video, Not In Our School: Mountain View/Los Altos, on our YouTube site! This short video tells the story of last November’s Not In Our School event at Los Altos High, where over 300 students, parents, and school leaders from Mountain View, Los Altos, and St. Francis high schools gathered for a screening of NIOT: Northern California, an art show to promote acceptance, and a lively and meaningful discussion about inclusion and diversity.  
Now in its third year, Palo Alto’s Not In Our School campaign has become a new model for engaging students in learning, conversation, and action against hate, bigotry, and bullying. This spring, Palo Alto elementary, middle, and high school students and teachers took their Not In Our School campaign to new heights. Students and teachers used closed-circuit TV to show Not In Our Town Northern California and the Not In Our Town youth video, took part in a “dissolving stereotypes” activity, created artwork about taking a stand against intolerance and stereotyping, and more. The Working Group’s video team was on hand to document Palo Alto’s Not In Our School campaign for an upcoming video about how students can stand up to hate and intolerance. Stay tuned for screening information and locations!  
In January, over 200 students, faculty, and staff members gathered at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY to launch their school’s first Not On Our Campus campaign. Patrice O’Neill, Executive Producer for The Working Group, presented the Not In Our Town film and shared stories about other Not In Our School/Not On Our Campus efforts around the U.S. The audience, which included College President Philip A. Glotzbach and several of his cabinet members, engaged in an open discussion about how everyday acts of bias can surface on campus, how students can stand up to intolerance, and how Skidmore can be a model of acceptance and diversity. Skidmore students also created their own Not On Our Campus pledge, committing to speak up against hateful acts. The idea for the Skidmore event got its start after sophomore Claire Solomon presented the Not On Our Campus model to her Hillel chapter. The previous year, swastikas and hate messages were found in one of the Skidmore campus dorms.
  A new Not In Our School video of Palo Alto High students’ response to the tragic Oxnard, CA school shooting of Larry King is now on YouTube!     Now in its third year, the Not In Our School campaign in Palo Alto has become a new model for how schools can engage their students in learning, conversation, and action against hate, bullying, and bigotry. In April, The Working Group will document the Palo Alto Not In Our School campaign in a short film about how students can stand up when they are confronted with intolerance. How has your school or community responded to this tragedy?