Three swastikas ‘found’ in Pelham Middle School

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Three swastikas were “found” in the Pelham Middle School, according to a letter from the Pelham School District.

“These symbols of hate have no place in our society and especially within our schools,” said the letter from Superintendent Cheryl H. Champ and PMS Principal Lynn M. Sabia. “This behavior is deeply offensive and will not be tolerated.”

The complete letter follows:

Dear Pelham Community,

We are extremely disheartened to share that three swastikas have recently been found inside Pelham Middle School. These symbols of hate have no place in our society and especially within our schools. This behavior is deeply offensive and will not be tolerated.

Please know that we have notified police and are also conducting our own investigation. As an immediate response, all middle school students attended an assembly today in which Principal Sabia and Assistant Principal Llewellyn discussed the swastika’s meaning, its dark place in our history and why the symbol remains offensive to this day.

Actions such as these also reinforce the importance of a long-term approach to building a culture of understanding and empathy in our schools. As such, we have a variety of educational experiences planned that are designed to create the respectful and inclusive learning environment our students deserve. For the first time this school year, all three middle school grades will learn about the Holocaust early in the year. Eighth grade students will once again hear directly from Holocaust survivors as part of their study of World War II and reading of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. We will also continue our collaboration with author Rosalind Wiseman to help students, staff and parents encourage kindness and respect while navigating the complex social realities of adolescence.

At the District level, we are continuing our work with CampbellJones & Associates to provide Cultural Proficiency training to a second cohort of teachers, staff, parents and students over the course of the year. The leaders of this training, Brenda and Franklin CampbellJones, will be hosting an overview of Cultural Proficiency for parents and community members this coming Monday, October 7 at 7pm in the MS Library. They will also be speaking at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, November 12. We will continue to be vigilant and proactive in our efforts to help our students understand the past and create a better future.

Finally, we would like to take a moment to commend those who came forward and alerted school staff after discovering the swastikas. While we can not ever stop all hateful acts from occurring, we can make progress by speaking out. Together, we can provide the children of Pelham the courage and compassion necessary to create an accepting and welcoming environment for all.

Sincerely,

Cheryl H. Champ Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Lynn M. Sabia
Principal, Pelham Middle School