Education

Published on September 24th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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District Five middle school launches Hate Won’t Win initiative, challenges other schools to take the pledge against hate and intolerance

Pictured; Students at Dutch Fork Middle School have launched a Hate Won’t Win campaign at the Lexington-Richland District Five school.

IRMO – “Hate won’t win, but perhaps love, sharing and understanding will.” That’s the message students from Dutch Fork Middle heard during an event recently, launching the school’s campaign against hate and intolerance.

Inspired by the words of family members of “The Charleston Nine” and modeled after a national Hate Won’t Win campaign, the Lexington-Richland District Five school’s Hate Won’t Win initiative will include prominent speakers and school activities as part of an effort to encourage diversity and tolerance. The school campaign, led by the Dutch Fork Middle Beta Club, also includes a social media challenge, asking students statewide and nationwide to perform “acts of love” and post them on the Hate Won’t Win Facebook page and school Facebook page.

“We reached out to Alana Simmons, granddaughter of one of the Charleston shooting victims, and with her guidance and support launched this campaign for students” said Lori Wenzinger, a Dutch Fork Middle School eighth grade history teacher who helped organize the initiative. “All of our students are asked to take the pledge and take action to love someone of a different race, different religion, different socioeconomic status and then challenge others to do the same. We are throwing down this challenge to all schools in District Five and beyond because children can make a difference.”

The school also will hold an art contest, sell t-shirts and create a music video to spread the word to other students. Students and staff have already expressed an interest in sending proceeds from their activities to the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, said Dutch Fork Middle School Guidance Counselor Sharisse Lee, who is also helping to organize the school’s initiative.

“We think this has great potential to grow,” Lee said. “The students are writing letters to news outlets, to politicians, civil rights leaders and others to get them to come to our school and see what Irmo, South Carolina is bringing to the table with this hate won’t win campaign.”

On Sept. 18, the school kicked off a yearlong series of “Hate Won’t Win” events with an assembly and presentation by Lilly Filler, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, co-chair of the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission and secretary of the South Carolina Holocaust Council.

Speaking on her parents experience, Filler urged each student to be an “upstander and not a bystander.”

“The holocaust survivor Ellie Wiesel said, and I quote, ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.’” Filler said. “…Hate won’t win, but perhaps love, sharing and understanding will…You as an individual can make a difference. Take a positive stand. Be an upstander, not a bystander.”

Dutch Fork Middle School Principal Dr. Gerald Gary said, “At Dutch Fork Middle, we try to prepare our students to be leaders and to contribute to the global society. It’s a proud day, when our students become the teachers, and this student-led campaign is an example of that. They are the torch bearers for this message that hate and intolerance has no place in our school, nation or world. And we are so proud of what this school and this campaign says about the future of our society.”

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