Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School students are “taking the lead” after getting a boost from the Huntington High School Natural Helpers club.
“Jack Abrams STEM School is serious about character education,” Principal Donna Moro said. “Last week we launched our first Take the Lead program in partnership with the Natural Helpers. Sixty students were selected to participate in the first retreat held at Jack Abrams. The selection was based on student and teacher recommendations.”
Natural Helpers are chosen by their high school classmates. They do most of their work confidentially, helping their peers navigate through personal issues. The teenagers embraced the Jack Abrams STEM School students and opened their hearts to them, infusing them with years of knowledge.
“Imagine a school where all students respect and support each other,” states a flyer sent to parades outlining the new program. “Where no one feels left out or alone. Where we celebrate our differences and find resolutions to conflicts that build relationships, not break them down. At Jack Abrams we believe that our students can build that future and students selected for the LEAD program will be the ones that will lead the way.”
Participants in last week’s retreat engaged in a variety of activities aimed at building trust and strengthening relationships between students. “I am so very pleased to have been able to introduce this program to our students,” Ms. Moro said. “The skills developed in the program will help students face the many opportunities and unknown dangers that exist in society today and how to deal with them.
“Students are exposed to thousands of influences through the media and their peers and they need to know how to handle these pressures,” Ms. Moro said. “The more tools we can give our students the more successful they will be in all aspects of their lives.”
Ms. Moro is optimistic the initiative will bear fruit. “We are excited to launch this new program and look forward to the positive ripple effect it will have throughout our school community,” she said.
“We presented a program originally started by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary called Operation Respect,” said Robert Gilmor III, a high school dean who is the Natural Helpers’ faculty advisor. “The program had many positively motivating pieces, but the piece I found most compelling was the ‘Don't Laugh at Me’ song and video. Our high school students had so much fun working along the students of the STEM school. The program was made that much better because of all the preparation Ms. Moro and her staff did to make it so successful.”
The Natural Helpers that participated in the initiative included Ally Arleo, Cody Bograd, Jacob Strieb, Andy Callahan, Evan Aguirre, Ryan Marques, Nikki Jacobus, Anna Gulizio, Tara Wilson, Jamie Spector, Steve Yeh, Jolena Smith, Shannon Maloney, Molly Warren and Sarah James.