Why Should Differences Separate Us?

Defeating the label takes two forms at WBHS


How do you teach someone to be interdependent, especially in a community of extreme diversity or even more, in a state that is a melting pot in itself? Life is full of opportunities to learn and gain knowledge about the real life issues that surround our culture, and more personal, our neighbors, classmates, friends, family and ourselves.

Thanks to West Bloomfield High School teachers Mr. Steven Toy and Ms. Sondra Hoffman; they took 13 students to the Holocaust Memorial Center on Orchard Lake Road to experience what is called Dream Dialogue and gain the ability to understand our diverse community better. “The Dream Dialogue is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (the ADL), to get students to visit cultural centers in Metro-Detroit.They hear a speaker and learn about a minority group or a religious minority or a group that has been oppressed historically,” states Toy.

This experience for the WBHS students took place on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014. West Bloomfield is a high school that is diverse, full of multiple races, religions and backgrounds. Having these 13 students start up a movement entering the WBHS community gives students a chance to become more accepting and more understanding of the diversity within the high school. When, Assistant Principal, Ms. Mara Hoffert brought the idea of ADL’s Dream Dialogue to Toy and Hoffman, it opened up opportunities for the student body to gain cultural experience and tolerance. Hoffman states, “We’re really involved with social justice, which is kind of looking at everyone as equals no matter what their religion, what their race, what their background is, what their intellectual level is, what their handicaps are, because we are all handicapped in some way, right? So, no matter what, we look at people as equals and treating them fairly and fair doesn’t always mean equal. So when we were dealing with this we  are doing a little bit of growth with social justice with teachers and we also wanted to expand that social justice thinking to students.”

Mr. Thomas Keegan and Ms. Kelli Tyranski participate in "Be The Change" while demonstrating "Free Hugs"
Mr. Thomas Keegan and Ms. Kelli Tyranski participate in “Be The Change” while demonstrating “Free Hugs”

There is also another chance for the WBHS student body to gain awareness and openness to tolerance and understanding; this is through Be The Change.

Ms. Davis and Mrs. Rosenwasser, heads of the Be the Change group at WBHS

The first “Be The Change” day took place on Friday, March 14, 2014. WBHS teachers, Ms. Allison Davis and Mrs. Jenifer Rosenwasser, are in charge of the Be the Change group at WBHS.  This idea was thought up by Davis and Rosenwasser and 30 students from the West Bloomfield High School community. This idea was generated through the experiences of this year’s Challenge Day, that took place in the fall of 2013, to continue the enjoyment of the feelings of equality and being safe in our school’s environment. This is an anti-bullying platform that will give students a safer environment in school. Rosenwasser states that, “we need kids committed to doing random acts of kindness. This is out there to welcome anyone new to the school or sitting alone at the lunch table. To be an advocate for anyone who feels unwelcome.” On that Friday, teachers and students wore t-shirts that sported the phrases “Be the Change”  on the front and “Free Hugs” on the back, and they handed out free candy with a compliments during all lunch periods.

“The days we do something, like leadership or mentors, our students will wear their t-shirts and there will be a special plan for that day,” states, both Davis and Rosenwasser. Freshman, Alisibeth Watkins-Miller, adds, “Be The Change came from challenge day, so everyone at challenge day understands. We get the message and the point of challenge day out. Making people to feel better, not only at and in the school, but like if they had a test during the day.”

Together these two clubs are joining in the Defeat the Label campaign in the WBHS Community during Stand for a Change Day that took place on May 2nd. (more information can be found on http://www.defeatthelabel.com/stand.html). These two groups are coming together to educate on diversity and differences, bring about understanding, and make it so the life of the students at  WBHS are safer. By involving WBHS in the Defeat the Label campaign we here at WBHS continue to strive for the belief in anti-bullying in our district’s schools.

If you would like to get involved pleased contact the teachers in charge of this new experiences at WBHS. Find your way to make a difference through our differences.