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Township Students Take ‘Stand Up For The Other Pledge’ On Valentine’s Day

Franklin Park School Kindergarten students pass around a red heart during the district’s observance of the “Stand Up For The Other Pledge.”


Students throughout the district commemorated Valentine’s Day this year by pledging to stand up to bigotry and hate.

Students took the “Stand Up For The Other Pledge” – a pledge to stand up against bullying and hate, promoted by the New Jersey and Franklin Township interfaith coalitions – in different ways in each of the schools.

At Franklin Park School, Kindergartners gathered in the school gym and sat in the form of a giant heart. They then passed a red heart from one to the other, while saying “I will stand up for you.”

The school’s 4th Graders assembled in the school’s cafetorium, where they all recited the pledge. Afterword, several students were asked to tell what the pledge meant to them.

Franklin Park 1st Graders lined up in a hallway to recite the pledge.

Among those in attendance to witness the events at Franklin Park School were Alex Kharazi, head of the township interfaith coalition, and Ali Chaudry, head of the state-wide interfaith coalition. Kharazi and Chaudry have been promoting the pledge, which Chaudry wrote, throughout the state. The Township Council recently took the pledge, as did the state Legislature.

Also at the school for the event was schools Superintendent John Ravally, district policy coordinator Mary Clark, Board of Education president Ed Potosnak, Township Councilman Charles Onyejiaka (D-Ward 3), Gary Rosenthal, chairman of the township’s Human Relations Commission, and Foday Mansaray, head of the West African Community Foundation.

Kharazi called the day the proudest he’s had in his 30 years of being a Franklin Township resident.

“It’s just amazing how the students come together to show that they do not tolerate hate,” he said. “They wanted to build a culture that they respect each other. This is just amazing.”



Kharazi noted that Franklin was the first school district in the nation to take the pledge, although a district in Tennessee incorporated it into its anti-bullying program.

“Hopefully others will follow,” he said.

Chaudry, of Basking Ridge, said he was proud of the students.

“To take this initiative for this township is an excellent example of it being a role model district,” he said. “I really appreciate this because this is something that is so natural and the need is so great right now, that anybody who can come up and support this is going to improve the conditions that our children are living in.”

The idea to bring the pledge to the school district came from Ravally, who said he was inspired to do so after hearing the pledge recited at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.

“That got me thinking, wow, that would be really powerful for the kids,” he said. “That’s the generation that really needs to get a good understanding of working together, the importance of it.”

Ravally said he and Kharazi talked, and then he brought the idea to Clark.

“It was Mary’s idea to do this on Valentine’s Day,” he said.  “On the day of love, so to speak, what a wonderful activity to do, to stand up and speak for each other and talk about love and tolerance for each other. The principals embraced it and ran with it.”

Each Franklin Park School student was given a paper cutout of a sneaker with the “Stand Up For The Other” logo on it. The sneaker was the idea of Franklin Park School vice principal Purvi Shah.

Shah said she decided on the sneaker image to symbolize that students were “standing up” for each other.

School principal Nicole Sury said the staff’s ability to “embrace the image and the message that it sends really made this all come to life.”

Onyejiaka said he was happy to stand with the students “to say no to bigotry.”

2017 Franklin Park School Students Stand Up For The Other

 

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