By Janet Sasson Edgette, Psy.D Sharing the quiet neighborhood in which I grew up was a girl I’ll call Marcie. Marcie wasn’t a particularly nice girl, but that didn’t stop me or any of the other kids in the neighborhood from trying to be her friend. She toyed sadistically and expertly with our wishes to be part of her “in” group. One summer she made each of us pinkie swear that we believed her story about there being the decapitated Frankenstein heads underneath the sewer lids on our street. I didn’t believe in Frankenstein, but I was afraid to not believe in Marcie. I spent one whole year engrossed in the terrible, tantalizing fantasy of lifting off those lids and finding heads in varying states of decay.
“We felt like we were part of something bigger, sharing what we were doing, and the idea of being leaders was very inspiring.” — Becki Cohn Vargas, Ed.D. Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas is a veteran educator and longtime ally of Not In Our Town. In this piece, penned in 2008, Dr. Cohn-Vargas lays out the lessons from the Palo Alto Unified School District, which embraced Not In Our School activities in 2007. Although Dr. Cohn-Vargas is no longer with the district, she has been instrumental in developing Not In Our School programs and the Palo Alto district’s Not In Our Schools month continues to thrive. Since 2007, the Palo Alto Unified School District has sponsored Not In Our School Palo Alto, a districtwide annual month-long event where students, teachers, administrators and parents engage in activities and discussions about how to address hate, bullying, and harassment at school.