No Place For Hate Adds Inclusivity to Southern Lehigh

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The No Place For Hate Club meets on day 6 spartan for anyone interested.

Kishore Annambhotla and Zain Shamasseen

 Student safety has always been a priority in schools, along with education and extracurriculars. Above all, it is essential that students feel included in their school communities and can voice their opinions and share their experiences. The No Place for Hate program provides interested students the opportunity to ensure Southern Lehigh is a welcoming place for all.

“Only four percent of the high school student body are people of color,” senior Jaya Bhatt said, “[so we want to recognize] diversity, so no one feels left out or excluded for who they are.”

No Place for Hate is a student-led school improvement program created by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). As an international non-profit organization focused on combating antisemitism, the ADL also fights discrimination and promotes respectful schools and communities.

English teachers Mrs. Marlo Spritzer and Mrs. Lauren Tocci are the co-advisors for No Place for Hate, which grew out of a small student-driven Diversity Council that formed last year. The formation of the club was a grassroots effort by many passionate students, including 2021 graduate Jack Ziets, who were inspired by significant events in 2020, including the protests against police brutality and racial injustice. With the support from high school principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello and former assistant principal Ms. Jennifer Brinson, the club gained momentum. 

“So much was coming out of our [Diversity Council] discussions,” Mrs. Tocci said. “[Mrs. Spritzer] was looking at the ADL and decided [No Place for Hate] would be a good way to give the whole school those valuable discussions.”

Several dedicated students worked with the advisors and administration to plan and implement whole-school activities that helped students build relationships and understand others. By the end of the year, The ADL granted No Place for Hate status to Southern Lehigh High School, a designation that schools must work to achieve and maintain each year. 

Students believe that the addition of No Place for Hate has been essential in increasing social awareness among students who choose to participate.

“Students who would ignore or avoid the news [before] now repost articles and discuss conflicts amongst each other,” junior Kylie Baker said. “Clubs like No Place for Hate and other diversity groups have been embraced and supported by staff and our district’s administration, something I’m so grateful to be a part of.”

As a progression of the Diversity Council, No Place for Hate intends to foster important conversations among students and help students put their ideas into action around the school. The club provides opportunities for students who wish to participate in committees focused on topics such as racial and gender equity and celebrating diversity. Other groups will continue to help plan school-wide activities and focused on inclusivity and understanding.

The primary goal of No Place for Hate in the 2021-2022 school year is to promote inclusivity and respect for others in a welcoming school community. 

“We hope to include more people, and have more discussions about cultural appreciation versus appropriation, and inclusion in school,” senior Andrea Prince said.

Mrs. Spritzer believes No Place for Hate is a positive addition to Southern Lehigh High School, and provides a forum for a variety of students to come together. 

“Everyone brings something different, everyone brings their own identities and their own passions, and they all just want to make school a place where everyone feels welcome,” Mrs. Spritzer said.

Mrs. Tocci believes it is critical that students are the leaders of the program because they are the “changemakers.”

“In any environment, when things are driven by the highest stakeholders, there’s so much more authority,” Mrs. Tocci said. “From adults, it feels like an order. From other students, it’s so much more impactful and makes others feel more invested.”