During the week of Jan. 29, Carle Place Middle/High School students used their social studies classes to explore how tolerance can be fostered.
The week kicked off with a special presentation for ninth and tenth graders. Mr. Carl Wilkens, former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International in Rwanda, spoke with classes about his decision to stay in Rwanda during the genocide that occurred there in 1994 against the Tutsi community. The ninth and tenth grade classes watched a documentary prior to the event, which told the story of the genocide. The film captured their attention and raised interest in the topic of tolerance vs. violence.
Mr. Wilkens educated students on how Rwanda rebuilt after the genocide and shared personal stories of the people that he met there. In addition, he discussed the mentality of the survivors, many of whom forgave those who murdered their loved ones. Mr. Wilkens shared the difference between transactional thinking and transformative thinking, which the Rwandan people embraced. Following the presentation, ninth and tenth grade students spoke more about the genocide in their social studies classes and what they learned from Mr. Wilkens.
Throughout the week, seventh and eighth grade social studies classes dove into American History and discussed hate speech and symbols. At the end of the week, a bulletin board was created in the school which was filled with the hands of each student pledging to be an upstander and not participating in hateful acts or speech.
Juniors and seniors also learned about hate in history. In their social studies classrooms, the students spoke about propaganda during World War I and had thoughtful classroom discussions about consuming news media today in relation to world affairs.
Through these presentations, lessons and activities, Carle Place students built upon their empathy, learned how hate can impact a society and recognized the importance of tolerance.