Jonathan Dayton High School Grows Branches Against Bullying

Junior Leaders (l-r): Carina Servello, Julia Horowitz and Sam Ehrlich Credits: Chip Dickson
Color Group Orange at UC STEP, Meital Oshri is second student from left in front row Credits: Union County
Tree with leaves filling "Branches Against Bullying" outside IMC Credits: Chip Dickson
Set-up for presentation Credits: Chip Dickson
Some of the junior leaders Credits: Chip Dickson
Josh Silverstein filming event Credits: Chip Dickson
Students taking turns giving part of the presentation Credits: Chip Dickson
Film shown with seniors Colin McCormick and Bryce Forys Credits: Chip Dickson
Sophomores heading off to another event and the day's classes Credits: Chip Dickson

SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Jonathan Dayton’s Springfield Leadership Program asks its participants to take on additional responsibilities while attending high school. 

Many help ease the transition of freshmen into high school life.  Juniors Julia Horowitz and Meital Oshri took on another responsibility, they are implementing the “Branches Against Bullying” campaign at the high school and introducing it to every class. 

Thursday morning, Horowitz and other students presented the program to the junior class of Jonathan Dayton High School.

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Dayton’s Principal Dr. Norman Francis credited Horowitz and Meital with proposing the roll out of the program to him.  He said, “They are both awesome!”  He added, “Through our curriculum, policies, code of conduct, and various interventions, we strive to instill in students the importance of respect, tolerance, good citizenship, and living a life of consequence. Having students internalize these ideas, take ownership, and apply these ideas, for the betterment of their school community, and beyond, is the goal. Branches Against Bullying is a great example of JDHS students doing just that.”

This effort originated from Union County’s Student Training & Enrichment Program (UC STEP).   According to Union County’s Facebook page, “UC STEP was created to provide high school students the opportunity to develop a countywide community service around a topic they feel is important, while teaching them leadership and personal growth skills and responsibility within their communities.”

This was the fifth annual UC STEP and it involved more than 200 sophomores and junior students from high schools throughout Union County.  The program took place in December 2017 at Kean University. The participants were split into groups with students of other schools.  Each group was given a color’s name.

The topic chosen was Color Group Orange’s campaign, “Branches Against Bullying”.  Color Group Orange members included Meitel Oshri of Dayton and students from the following high schools: Arthur L. Johnson High School, Governor Livingston High School, John E. Dwyer Technology Academy, Linden High School, New Providence High School, Plainfield High School, Scotch Plains- Fanwood High School, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy and Union High School.

Besides introducing each class to the program, members of the Springfield leadership program placed a “Branches Against Bullying” tree outside the IMC with positive and uplifting messages written on leaves.  Julia Horowitz said, “This campaign is more geared towards having students take a leaf to brighten their day no matter what kind of day they are having.”  She continued “I would love for this program to continue at Jonathan Dayton, even after this school year ends. I already see the amazing positive impact that it is having on our school and I would love for it to continue in the years to come.” 

Meital Oshri said, "I am very excited about this project and am so happy to see that it is already working. Many students and teachers come up to me and tell me how much they love the idea and how much they think it is helping students. Yesterday I was beyond thrilled to see that there were no leaves left on the tree and we had to refill them. If the tree makes even one person feel better about themselves, than it's a success!"

A message from the film shown is “The ultimate goal is to help promote kindness at the school."

UC STEP published a resource guide for “Branches Against Bullying” called Resource Guide To END Bullying.  The guide provides a definition of cyberbullying and bullying as well as ways to deal with a bully.

Julia Horowitz and Meital Oshri were inducted into the National Honor Society this year and active in other activities at Jonathan Dayton High School. is Springfield’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TAPSpringfield.

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