Embracing Differences | Not in Our Town

Embracing Differences

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)

Embracing Differences


At South Ocean Middle School in Patchogue, NY, students are using art to talk about the tragic murder of local Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero. After seven local high school students were arrested for the killing, Principal Linda Pickford wanted to create a safe environment where her students could express their feelings about the tragedy, and share their ideas about diversity, immigration, inclusion and respect. So when Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri suggested she host an art exhibit called “Embracing Our Differences,” she mounted the collection of banners on the front lawn of her school, opening up a conversation about how our differences and how communities can come together. (5:53)

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a result of the murder of Marcelo Lucero, there were many positive efforts in the community to embrace diversity and build respect for all. How can the students and adults continue to reinforce that message over the years so that Marcelo’s memory will not be forgotten?
  2. One of the teachers spoke about his own experience, which is shared by many, of feeling he needed to hide aspects of his identity in order to “fit in” or be a part of the larger culture. What is the impact of feeling like you have to hide or be ashamed of who you are? How can we make sure everyone feels comfortable sharing background their and identity in our classroom and school?
  3. One girl shared that she was surprised how much words can affect you.  We also hear that “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.”  Which of these ideas do you think is true? Why?
  4. The Mayor closes the video by saying that even though people are defined by their ancestry and where they came from, that “we are also defined by who we circle ourselves with; our friends, neighbors and schools.”  What do you think he meant by that?

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This video is part of the Not In Our School Video Action Kit, a comprehensive toolkit featuring films, lessons, and resources designed to motivate students to speak out against bullying, and create new ways to make their schools safe for everyone. Learn more about the Video Action Kit.



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