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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

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No Place for Hate contract canceled

Jackson-Reed will not be renewing its formal commitment to the No Place for Hate Initiative for a second year. Staff sponsors and the Student Government Association (SGA) are electing to instead increase investment in other efforts rooted in the larger community that may have more overall impact. 

“The message that this is an inclusive school for all, and that we don’t believe in hate still stands and resonates. It’s just that we are investing our time in other community organizations,” Marc Minsker, 9th grade assistant principal and sponsor of the initiative at Jackson-Reed said. 

No Place for Hate is a national organization run by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that strives for inclusivity and combats prejudice and hate-speech in schools and the community. During the pandemic, Minsker and SGA moderator and Italian teacher Simona Spicciani-Gerhardt worked with a team of students to create HomeBase through Microsoft Teams, an online space where students could learn more about No Place for Hate values and opportunities for community growth and development. In 2021, 1,000 student signatures were collected and three school-wide, student-led activities were organized around the values of the organization and Jackson-Reed was designated as a No Place for Hate school. 

“After the pandemic it helped us come together around our values” Spicciani-Gerheart said. 

But this year, No Place for Hate representatives at Jackson-Reed have decided not to collect the signatures or put on the events this year, something that must be done in order to renew the school’s status as a No Place for Hate school. 

Minsker explained how with limited time and resources he believes that students could have a bigger impact when working with other organizations. “We are using our student leaders to build community in other ways in other organizations,” Minsker said. 

The school is solidifying their partnerships with Housing Justice for Ward 3 and the Washington Interfaith Network to help push for inclusive and affordable housing in areas around the Jackson-Reed community. The SGA also sponsors food drives for Feed the Families, and collaborates with the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) to help marginalized communities along River Road where the Moses cemetery is being threatened by developers. The SGA will also be partnering with Lead 4 Change, a student leadership program focused on service-learning that allows students to compete to win grants for their school or for charity.  

“[These other organizations] are ways that we reflect our No Place for Hate values not just in the school building but in the greater community,” Minsker said. “[These new initiatives also] push us to be more active and hands-on,” Spicciani-Gerherdt added. 

But, it is difficult for the school to invest in these organizations as well as No Place for Hate.

“We just don’t have enough students’ time and energy [to work with No Place For Hate] in addition to all of the other work we are doing.” Minsker continued. Spicciani-Gerheard added that the process of achieving status as a No Place for Hate school “was very demanding.” 

Francesca Krevat, sophomore vice president and part of the SGA said, “I think that Jackson-Reed’s plan to terminate [the partnership with No Place For Hate] makes sense because we are going to be focusing on Lead 4 Change that focuses more on creating change.”

The transition from No Place for Hate was also motivated by a perceived lack of impact. “[No Place for Hate] is a really great concept, but without the ability and the people power, and the time to put in regular programming, it wasn’t very effective,” said Aaron Besser, social studies teacher and sponsor of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA). Besser was consulted in part of the inception of No Place for Hate at Jackson-Reed. 

Many students agreed. Sophomore Auletta Schwab said, “I didn’t even know that Jackson-Reed was a No Place for Hate school. I don’t think students understand what No Place for Hate means.” Bryce Freeman, junior class president and part of the SGA, reported, “Just from talking to the student body, many people felt as if the No Place for Hate initiative created unity but it didn’t create change.” 

The lack of visibility and impact of the program may have been because it was launched during the pandemic. For example, the GSA, promoting No Place for Hate values, put on an assembly last year specifically focusing on the LGBTQ community and pronoun usage, but the assembly was virtual in order to follow COVID protocol.

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Isadora Groves, News Editor
  • 2021-23: Junior Editor
  • 2023-24: News Editor
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