Ambassors for Tolerance
with Town of Islip
Guided by the Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework, thirteen Sayville High School students and eight Middle School students have been working as Ambassadors for the Town of Islip under the direction of Sayville staff to create a just, equitable, and safe environment for all students. The Ambassadors Program brings students together from school districts within the Town of Islip for the purpose of bringing awareness to all forms of bias and discrimination. Four meetings are held throughout the year, consisting of speakers on various topics as well as activities for young people to bring back to their respective schools and communities.
The February 11th conference was held at Sayville HS where students hosted other Ambassadors from
Brentwood, Islip, Bay Shore, and Central Islip school districts. As it does for all four conferences, Suffolk Transportation Bus Company generously provided transport for all the students to Sayville at no cost.
On the day of the assembly at Sayville High School, Lyndsay Smith, Safe Schools Coordinator at Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY), and Marvin Smith, who has dedicated more than fifty years to the Civil Rights Movement, shared their messages of tolerance; while Ecuadorean- born Joselo Lucero, the brother of the hate-crime victim Marcelo Lucero (who had been stabbed to death by a Patchogue teen in 2008) evoked the need for compassion and understanding to replace prejudice.
The assembled students from all the schools listened attentively to each of the guest presenters who had unique perspectives on these important issues:
- A former K-12 educator who taught middle school chorus and general music, Lyndsay Smith currently serves as a Safe Schools Coordinator and provides anti-bullying and LGBT cultural competency workshops in heart-to-heart discussions with students, educators, and providers. She also coordinates the Long Island GSA Network and facilitates the Safe Schools Team, a group of young advocates working to create safer schools.
- Marvin Smith, with fifty years of experience working in the Civil Right Movement, has traveled the world as a lecturer. Former Islip Town Branch NAACP VP, Secretary and Treasurer of the Leadership Training Institute, he currently serves as Community Liaison to NYS Assemblyman Phil Ramos.
- As Outreach Coordinator for the Hagedorn Foundation, Joselo Lucero visits middle and high schools on Long Island and across the NY metro region to give presentations on how to prevent bullying and hate-crimes. His brother’s murder propelled Joselo to become active in community projects to empower youth and instill leadership qualities. Joselo, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, has become involved with Long Island based diversity programs, Life Through My Eyes and Embrace Our Differences.
The effort to bring neighboring schools together, that included a pizza lunch break as well as the lectures, demonstrated to all that these shared concerns of society extend well beyond the small boundaries of individual school districts, hamlets and towns on Long Island.
The Sayville Ambassadors had been very excited about hosting the event and were pleased with its success. “Our final conference date is in April at Islip Town Hall,” noted Sayville H.S. Social Worker and Dignity Act Co-Coordinator Betsy Quinlan. “The students will present their ideas regarding interventions/preventions which they will introduce into their schools. In addition they will be sworn in as Anti-Bias Ambassadors and will receive certificates of participation from Islip Town.”
Special thanks go to the Student Ambassadors listed below:
Alyssa Klassert 12
Destiny Rivera 10
Corinne Caminske 11
Allie Severin 11
Elias Kalomiris 11
Chelsea Burnside 11
Kelliann Camp 12
Isha Khawaja 12
Kailee Reynolds 9
Dominique Procopio 12
Jessica Leigh-Manuell 11
Kyra Nyholm 12
Abby Good 10