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Greenwich Students Learn Lessons in Acceptance

GREENWICH, Conn. – Tolerance was the theme of the day for Greenwich Academy and Brunswick Upper School students, who were asked, “What Would You Do?” as part of an effort to combat racial, ethnic, economic and gender prejudice launched in an all-day program by the Anti-Defamation League.

“The program was both so real and surreal because of the reaction and support the students gave to one another throughout the day,” said Sam May, a freshman at Brunswick and a member of the school’s Diversity in Action Club. “It gave the feeling that I have family here, and that my brothers at Brunswick and my sisters at Greenwich Academy really care."

Every four years, the schools collaborate on a program that asks the students, “What would you do in a given situation that would reveal your character and its reflection on the two schools’ mottoes - ‘Toward the Building of Character’ (Greenwich Academy) and ‘Courage, Honor, Truth’ (Brunswick)?”

In an effort to combat prejudice, the Anti-Defamation League developed an all-day program that helps students and faculty examine critical issues of school life and contemporary culture.

“There are relevant issues of fairness and inclusion, and it’s important to take the time to talk about what happens and what we aspire to become as a community,” said Marianne Ho-Barnum of Brunswick. She organized “What Would You Do?” with Greenwich Academy’s Gloria Fernandez-Tearte. “It will bring an awareness for what do when prejudice and bullying is present. What do your friends do? What does the person being targeted do? This Anti-Defamation League program focuses on helping us learn strategies so that we can improve the way we react to certain situations involving prejudice and bullying.”

Derek Hall, an Anti-Defamation League educator, set the rules of the seminar by presenting ROPES, with a team of students holding up placards of each letter. ROPES stands for Respect, with responsible risk-taking; Openness, with a caution to express “ouch” when hurtful things are said and “oops” to acknowledge responsibility for that “ouch”; Participate, for everyone’s word to be heard; Escuchar , which is Spanish for “listen,” with an emphasis on doing so actively; and Safety, with the expectation of confidentiality.

Small breakout sessions were led by faculty and students who had 10 hours of training to prepare for their roles. Once the sessions concluded, they returned as a group to discuss steps they would take to advocate for tolerance.

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