Hands Across the Campus
Hands Across the Campus program is our anti-bias high school program operating in 5 school districts in southeastern Wisconsin. It is designed to enhance tolerance and combat bigotry among secondary school students, teach skills and create inclusive learning environments.In addition to its relevance as a social studies curriculum, Hands Across the Campus includes a student leadership-training program, a conflict resolution model and a community service component. The Ethnic Sharing activities are invaluable for climate setting and inclusiveness within the learning environment.
The curriculum is available free to schools, and we provide yearly training and ongoing support for Hands practitioners. Hands Across the Campus is particularly adaptable to a variety of settings and institutional needs. In some schools it stands as an independent course for credit, in others it is an extracurricular activity and in still others it serves as a curricular adjunct.
Here is an update of Hands in one Milwaukee high school, as written by Hands practitioner and English teacher, Kelly O’Keefe:“For the last four years, Rufus King IB High School has fostered an Interfaith dialogue between the two student groups, Friends of Islam and Jew Crew. This critically important conversation, while not always easy or comfortable, has permanently changed the culture and the climate of the entire academic community. In the 2007-2008 school year, senior Jew Crew President, Danielle Behrman spoke at a faculty meeting. The faculty meeting, two days before the high holiday of Rosh Hashana, provided a perfect opportunity for Jew Crew to introduce the holiday and help staff cooperate with the policy of excused absences for religious services. We arranged for every staff member to receive an apple as they entered the meeting. Danielle did a gorgeous job of teaching the teachers about the significance of the New Year, the book of life, and the “sweetness” that comes with Yom Kippur. Two Jewish students told me later that 2 of their teachers changed a test date to accommodate the holidays. I had several other teachers ask me for a calendar of Jewish and Muslim holidays for planning purposes. The building committee chair has also asked me for said calendars so we can avoid planning parent/teacher conferences on the dates of the high holidays. It may have occurred as a simple gesture, but it made a huge difference in the lives of those Jewish students.For Holocaust Remembrance week, we participated in the national Paper Clip project. We designed badges for the student body to wear in memory of the allies who resisted the Nazis in World War II. Some of the badges said, “Racism’s time is up” with a clock, some showed a figure standing accompanied by the words, “Take a stand against Racism” but the school favorite was a yellow star of David with the text, “I love Jews” written underneath the star. Each day of the week, an announcement was made explaining the paper clip project and how students could participate in the action. On Friday, members of Jew Crew gathered in the main lobby to distribute badges and paper clips. I made 600 badges and had 600 paper clips. They were gone within 10 minutes. Throughout the course of my teaching day, I was continuously interrupted by students hoping that they could still get a paper clip to wear. The majority of the teaching staff participated. The principal and the front office staff had blue/gold (our school colors!) paperclips on before I had a chance to offer them one. While all of these anecdotes are representative of the school’s support for Jew Crew and education, the most personally rewarding event of the day, was seeing Muslim students wearing the yellow Star of David badges. No matter what hallway I walked down, I would see observant Muslims proudly displaying a paperclip and badge that said, “I LOVE JEWS!” I have experienced countless moments of joy as I support these young people in their efforts to cross boundaries of faith and tradition; having said that, the image of Muslim students showing love for their Jewish classmates, is an image that is indelibly marked on my mind and it is one that will sustain me in the years to come.” This is what MAJC does, this is what we have done, and with your assistance and support, this is what we will continue to do.
Hands Across the Campus-Rufus King HS
The Hands Across the Campus program at Rufus King High School hosted Mr. Siriri for a late afternoon presentation. Mr. Siriri was warmly welcomed by faculty and members of the Jew Crew and the African Student Union. Those in attendance took the opportunity to inquire about the Abayudayan communities’ plans for future growth. The community plans to focus structural improvements and additions to a number of sanitation and school facilities. In addition, students went above and beyond welcoming by holding a bake sale which raised more than $200, a donation which will contribute to ongoing construction project costs in the Abayudayan community. Special thanks to Marie Newby-Randle, Rufus King Principal and Kelly O’Keefe-Boetcher, English teacher and Hands facilitator/advisor.