Patriot Pride Day at Ward Melville High School occurred on November 13, 2014. As a community, the faculty and students dedicated the day to Peacefulness, Respect, Integrity, Dependability, and Encouragement, i.e. P-R-I-D-E. The goal of the day was to encourage an open and accepting environment amongst all, especially focusing on understanding those who have had different experiences and life circumstances. Special and unique classes were available to students on a first come-first serve sign up basis.
The day began with keynote speaker and dramatic artist, Shadrack Boakye, who described the challenges he has faced in his life escaping Civil War in Liberia, growing up in Ghana, living as a refugee in Guinea, and immigrating to the United States knowing no English. He has lived in poverty and experienced bullying, but with the encouragement of his eighth grade teacher, he persisted and overcame many tribulations. His theatrical and interactive speech was inspirational yet comedic, entertaining yet memorable.
Individual workshops included diverse areas such as One Family’s Story about Autism, The Friendship Circle Volunteer Program, an Overview of Substance Use, The Killer “P’s” of High School Students (procrastination, perfectionism and poor coping), and an interactive class on stereotyping. Artistically, some students participated in a drum circle, implementing the key concept of collaboration, while others created origami paper cranes for peace. The leader of the latter, Jennifer Lin, commented, “Patriot Pride Day was a lot of fun. I actually had the opportunity to teach my own workshop (paper cranes for peace), and it was amazing to see everyone work together and learn more things about the world around them and their own communities. It really brought us together as a school.”
Other sessions addressed Staying Safe, Problem Gambling, Overview of Substance Abuse, and Growing up Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual. Students were able to seek information and knowledge for themselves, their friends, or others who differ from them in any way. Animal lovers were able to attend the Guide Dog Foundation workshop or the Rescue Efforts for Animals, Creating Humanity through Helping the Helpless workshop.
Overall, Patriot Pride day was a unique day that provided the opportunity for students to learn and embrace their differences.