WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Alternative Press provides information on the various activities going on in West Orange public schools.  Here's an update from Liberty Middle School, located at 1 Kelly Drive, and home to more than 500 seventh- and eighth-graders.

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors

Library Media Specialist Lisa Touzeau provided The Alternative Press of West Orange with an update on the school's anti-bullying efforts. LMS students participated in the Global Nomads Group Pulse Programs. Global Nomads Group (GNG) is "an international non-profit organization whose mission is to foster dialogue and understanding among the world’s youth."  Touzeau said, "GNG engages and empowers young people worldwide using a variety of media, including interactive videoconferencing, webcasting, social networking, and participatory filmmaking. The Pulse Programs are virtual, town hall meetings designed to give students a forum to deliberate some of the most challenging issues of our time.

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"This year the Anti-bullying Ambassadors addressed the topic of bullying with students from Long Island, N.Y., Texas and, California. The students discussed what each of their schools was doing to address the problem of bullying. The students also discussed the issue with Katy Butler a freshman at George Washington University. Katy related how she was bullied and how through that experience she was able to help get a comprehensive anti-bullying bill passed through the Michigan State legislature."

Liberty Middle School, along with the entire West Orange School district, developed a proactive anti-bullying approach once the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law went into effect in September 2011. LMS created the Anti-bullying Ambassador program to enlist the help of students to assist in the prevention of bullying in the school community.  Ambassadors on the 'front-line' could peacefully intervene [if necessary].  Ambassadors completed an application process and received anti-bullying training and were introduced to the school community during the Week of Respect in Early October. They performed skits showcasing typical bullying scenarios that someone in middle school may encounter, and solutions to address them.

Last year, the students were able to discuss the upcoming Presidential election with other students in the country and members of grassroots election education organizations Rock the Vote and Latinovations.

Valerie Gino, a Science teacher at Liberty, spearheaded the efforts of the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors and serves as their advisor.  She shared her thoughts on the presence of the group at Liberty and said "The group currently consists of 22 eighth-graders, but we are looking to expand the group with new members sometime in January 2014 when the application becomes available.  So far, the program is proving to be positive and successful. Student feedback has noted that it is helpful to have peers available to reach out to in case the person is uncomfortable going to administration or guidance right away. We can only hope that our awareness grows and that the more people we have involved, the less likely bullying will be a part of our culture." 

Seventh-Graders Get Hands-On Geology Experience at Sterling Mine

The students at Liberty Middle School might not have found gold, but they received a wealth of riches when it came to geology Nov. 14 and 15.

LMS seventh-graders traveled to the Sterling Mine in Ogdensburg for an onsite visit that provided narrated exploration of various minerals, mining equipment and mining practices. Students went on guided tours during a one hour walk into the underground zinc mine, visited the mine's large exhibit hall, and toured the "museum of fluorescence".

The museum housed oversized fluorescent mineral specimens, some two to three feet long and weighing more than 100 pounds, under ultraviolet light. Students enjoyed the perfect fall weather exploring the legacy of Sterling Hill, a piece of New Jersey history.

The trip was arranged by Dianne Cardinali, a science teacher at the school.