WARREN, NJ - Friday, March 7 was declared a White Out in Warren Township. The White Out was evident by the sea of white seen at Watchung Hills Regional High School.
Warren Middle School will stage a white out on Friday, March 14.
The White Out Against Bullying is a day where a community stands up to the bullies of the world and pledges to “Speak Up. Stand Up. Stop Hate.” To remind children and adults alike of the consequences of hateful words and actions as well as encourage them to defend victims.
Last year, what began as a simple plan to have every student and teacher at Watchung Hills wear white on March 8, 2013, quickly grew into a legislative initiative. Local town councils issued official proclamations declaring a town-wide White Out Against Bullying event and the Not In Our School organization produced a documentary on the event. During last year’s White Out Against Bullying day, government officials met with students of Watchung Hills Regional High School, spoke on the importance of their efforts, and demonstrated support for the cause.
The White Out Against Bullying aims to prevent bullying by targeting not only the bullies, but also encouraging bystanders to take action against bullying. New Jersey has very rigid harassment, intimidation and bullying laws which have facilitated a community that is aware of and adamantly against any form of hate.
“We’re so excited that our White Out is getting so much attention from the NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) and local newspapers. We have hopes to organize a state wide white out to erase bullying,” said student, Blake Shapiro. "It would be amazing to see the people of New Jersey come together one day to say, ‘we’re not going to tolerate hate in our schools and communities."
The students met with Assemblyman Bramnick to present the project in Trenton in hopes of creating legislation to make White Out an official statewide event. Bramnick and Senator Tom Kean Jr. both attended and participated in the event. Kean posted, " Proud to have been a part of today's Watchung Hills Regional High School Anti-Bullying Day/White Out event. Stand up; Speak up; Stop Hate!"
Bramnick got laughs from the crowd when he took a "selfie" with the students.
“The goal of the White Out was to raise awareness on the issue of bullying,” Andrew Stein said. “The motive we had in mind was to educate the younger children so that the knowledge on how to prevent and deal with bullying was implemented.
At a Township Committee meeting earlier this year, Committeewoman Carolann Garafola, who is also the executive director of Mount Bethel Village, a facility for special needs adults, commented on last year’s program.
“A number of my residents from Mount Bethel were invited to the high school to meet with a couple of AP classes, and they told their own stories. These are members with special needs, over 21 years,” Garafola said. “I have to tell you, some of the high school students were in tears when they heard the stories of how some of how my adults were treated through school. They have not stopped talking about it for months after it. They were really moved.”
The club's website says,"Imagine a football stadium riddled with black clad spectators, hungry for victory and singularly against the white clad opponents on the bleachers across from them. This is what unity looks like, aesthetically speaking. If hundreds of students can unite over a touchdown, they can just as easily unite over an ideology: tolerance."
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