Bullying, stereotyping and prejudice are not welcome at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, and a team of nearly 50 sophomores, juniors and seniors have dedicated themselves to reaching out to peers and leading the difficult discussions that can break down barriers and build a positive and supportive school climate. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) peer training program helps these student leaders develop the skills and knowledge set they’ll need to create and run activities for ninth graders in their homeroom period known as Bonus Block.
“The most exciting part to me for ADL is meeting all new people. It’s so great to be around people who have the same exact goals, who want to make a difference like you do,” said Alena DiSanto, a senior at PWHS. The activities address gender, race and religion and teach the students to be more accepting of diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Explained Elliot Anderson, a senior at PWHS in his first year as a peer trainer, “I feel like I learned how to make people feel comfortable in talking about things that are usually an uncomfortable topic.”
Having the ADL peer trainers work with ninth grade Bonus Blocks is one of the annual school-wide projects that allow the school to be designated by the ADL as an official No Place for Hate school.