ADL’s “Names Can Really Hurt Us” Program Brings Promising Change to SLS

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SLS Panelists Finn Regan ’22, Janelle Johnson ’20, Moli Ma ’21, Zaire Profit ’21, Lily Tencic ’20, and Cessa Lewis ’23

Macy Millones '23, Sports Co-Editor

On Thursday, November 14, 2019, St. Luke’s students arrived on the Hilltop for a day dedicated to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “Names Can Really Hurt Us” program. The palpable energy in the air was paired with slight hesitations, and students arrived unsure of what to expect. As ADL facilitator Joan Edwards, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Cultural Competency at Kingwood-Oxford, took the stage, all these feelings were diffused, and it became clear that we had a meaningful day of work ahead of us.

According to Ms. Parker-Burgard, Director of the Center For Leadership,“the goal of the day was to get us to think about our own behavior and how we can all be better allies.” 

 The day began in student advisories where the program’s agenda was discussed. Afterwards, students filtered into the Seldin Performing Arts Center for a student-directed skit, a moving student panel, and an open mic session. Inspired by the panelists and their stories, dozens of students flooded the mic eager to share their own. Students were now able to understand their peers’ backstories and have a new appreciation for each other.

 After the assembly, students were split into groups at random and sent off to classrooms to continue their work. In each class, trained student facilitators prompted their peers to think about whether they are bystanders, allies, or perpetrators, and which category they fit into the majority of the time. Prompts like these allowed students to reflect on their roles in society and the acts of unkindness that go on here on the Hilltop.

Caleb Sedien 23’, when reflecting on ADL day, said, “I learned how experiences that we were learning about actually happened to people in our community.” 

Eric Levine ‘23 added, “I didn’t think that as many people would be affected by other people’s words in this school.” 

The awareness that the ADL brought to the St.Luke’s community was truly beneficial. The effects have been seen and recognized already.  

Levine, when referring to the impact on the community, stated, “I know some of my friends use[d] [insensitive] phrases…and I actually noticed [they] didn’t really come up as much in conversations.” This simple recognition of the changes that have occurred is a testament to the power of ADL’s program.

 Ms.Parker-Burgard said;  “I was so impressed with the bravery, honesty, and engagement of the St. Luke’s community–from the panelists, to the group leaders, to the students who stood up at the open mic, to everyone who was open-minded and really took in what was being said. If we can carry the experience of our ADL day forward we will build an even stronger community.”

Dr. Higgins perfectly summed up the importance of the day when he said, “I think that everybody walked away with this mindset of ‘clearly this matters and we need to be able to talk about it.’”