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Saturday, October 25, 2014
United against bullying
Districtwide initiative promotes character education
Ryann Ruzika/Herald
McVey kindergartners in Eva O

Students in the East Meadow School District came to school dressed in orange on Oct. 9 in a united effort to stand up to bullying. It was Unity Day, a districtwide initiative to promote student camaraderie and character education.

The day’s events were a joint project between district officials and the East Meadow PTA Council, according to council President Tracy Allred-Pulice. While district schools have long held anti-bullying programs and assemblies, Allred-Pulice said she wanted to have a day devoted to anti-bullying throughout the district.

October is known nationally as Bullying Prevention Month, and Oct. 9 was anointed Unity Day by the National Bullying Prevention Center, an organization that helps communities combat bullying.

Allred-Pulice said she asked Superintendent Louis DeAngelo days before the school year began about bringing Unity Day to East Meadow, and that he was all for it. The district bought thousands of orange bracelets to distribute to students. “All the schools are doing the same thing to show unity,” Allred-Pulice said. “It’ll be a reminder to them to do the right thing.”

Each school put its own individual twist on the day’s events, but every school created an orange banner for students to sign, as a pledge to stand up to bullying.

At McVey Elementary School, classes went one by one to the banner in a hallway, where students signed their names. “We’re uniting as one to stop bullying and be upstanding people,” said 10-year-old Shay Stergis.

At Woodland Middle School, Principal James Lethbridge said he read a pledge to students during homeroom sessions before handing out bracelets. “It does demonstrate to the community that we are unified and that we’re addressing [bullying], and working with it,” Lethbridge said.

He added that the school holds similar programs for each of its three grades throughout the year, including Rachel’s Challenge for its sixth-graders, a nationwide anti-bullying program named for Rachel Joy Scott, who died in the Columbine school shooting in Colorado in 1999.

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