Nine Strayer Middle School students have been selected to form a leadership group that educators believe can help lessen discrimination and bullying in school.
The students – Dylan Chauhan, Cailyn Cineas, Thomy Codja, Ariana Krum, Nathalia McMillan, Morgan Murray, Brendan Padmanabhan, Shaylen Carmona Rivera, and Meghan Steiert – were chosen by assistant principal Kim Finnerty, who inspired the team’s creation.
“I want to make Strayer Middle School the best it can be,” she said. “Students here should feel safe, comfortable and want to be here. When people don’t feel that way, that’s a problem for me.
“These students have diverse perspectives. They’re different colors, they’re males, they’re females, some are new to the district, and some have been in the district for years. But they’re all here for positive reasons.”
To help them develop into “ambassadors,” Ms. Finnerty brought them to a “Youth and Prejudice: Reducing Hatred” conference for middle school students at Muhlenberg College. The program is designed to connect the atrocities of Nazi Germany to modern-day actions of hate and teach students to be “upstanders” vs. “bystanders.”
Strayer Principal Dr. Jennifer Bubser said she was excited when Ms. Finnerty shared her idea to have students attend the conference. “We have many students who are leaders, and our hope is to have our student leaders address issues at Strayer to continue our efforts to help make our community safe and comfortable for all students,” Dr. Bubser said.
Prior to the conference, the students listened to a presentation by former Quakertown Community School District librarian Audrey Nolte, whose parents are Holocaust survivors.
Mrs. Nolte had the students totally engaged in her family’s history, shared photographs and artifacts with them, and asked them questions about how they might handle similar situations today.
“I think a light went on in their heads that they could travel back in time and understand what happened,” Mrs. Nolte said. “When you teach, you can see when they get it.”