In recent years, our staff and students have endeavored successfully to cultivate a sense of unity and inclusion in our school community and among all the diverse student groups that make up our amazing district. There are many student groups and clubs that as part of their missions, build community, tolerance and inclusivity. Those groups include our Natural Helpers, Best Buddies, Gay-Straight Alliance and the Global Awareness Club at our high school. Furthermore, social emotional learning has been an important area of focus in our District across all grades K-12. Each year the high school hosts a two day Challenge Day event which focuses on inspiring a schoolwide movement of compassion and positive change. The Prodell Middle School hosts annual diversity assemblies which focus on the importance of diversity, acceptance and welcoming others. Our elementary schools include programs such as Character Counts and Empowering Minds which both support building acceptance and empathy. There are also many student experiences within our curriculum designed to strengthen and educate students’ understanding of global issues related to tolerance, civil rights and community. Some of those experiences include our attendance at the Erase Racism conference, visits to the Holocaust Museum, participation in the Youth Court, attendance at the Pay it Forward Leadership, Icons of Freedom, and the Compassion without Borders conferences.

While building community and inclusivity is an ongoing goal, we recognize that this is a moment where we collectively; as Board of Education trustees, students, teachers, and administrators, would benefit from reflecting on our own words and actions to understand together how they impact the world, and those around us. It is a natural time for all of us to consider how we have supported the adopted values of the Shoreham Wading River Central School District as individuals and as a school community. Have we done all that we can to support the “belief that every individual in the community should be treated with dignity and respect, or promote a positive and safe learning environment in order to foster respect for self as well as for others?” Do our collective words and actions support, “the belief that students must understand, develop, and demonstrate the values associated with moral and ethical conduct in order to contribute as a member of a democratic society?” These values are important for our entire school community and are a continued focus for us all, now and in the future.

We look forward to having conversations throughout our school community to consider together our progress toward meeting those values and then, with a renewed energy, continue to grow together to pursue them for our collective good.

Superintendent of Schools Gerard W. Poole