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Community-led Event Advocates for the Wellbeing & Respectful Treatment of All People

 Three fms students outside by a tree, one of them hanging from the treeAt the ring of the dismissal bell on Wednesday, Farragut Middle School students were offered blue and orange ribbons as they left the building.

Blue ribbons, symbolizing anti-bullying; and orange for disability awareness and anti-racism, also decorated the school’s surrounding areas, as students and staff tied them to tree branches and fence posts. 

The gesture, organized by Hastings’ parent and community groups, reinforced the district’s zero tolerance policy on acts of hatred, bias, racism and antisemitism, as well as its commitment to advocating dignity and respect for all people. It demonstrated support for those affected by recent incidents of discrimination and harassment at the Middle School.

“When a transgression has occurred and people are hurt, the process toward healing is multi-layered,” said Marie-Louise Miller, parent and Co-Chair of the PTSA’s Inclusion Working Group. “This is the first step, where individuals in the school and outside the school, can come together to build a stronger, healthier community.”

The groups represented included Hastings’ students and staff, Hastings RISE, SEPTA, the PTSA Inclusion Working Group, Hastings Rainbow Families, P-CoC (Parenting Children of Color), and the Hastings Youth Council. Families, students, and interested village residents were invited. 

Community representatives stood at stations with Farragut Middle School Principal Jennifer Spirelli, Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo, Racial Affinity Group Student Representative Mikayla Padilla, Assistant Director of Special Education Tesfa Stewart, Hastings High School Principal Louis Adipietro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Melissa Szymanski, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. William McKersie, handing out the ribbons as a show of support and a reminder to continue discussions around the importance of inclusivity.

"It's been heartening to see how quickly various parent groups have come together," said Co-President of SEPTA Jennifer Destin. "It is our priority to support and lend a voice to the children in our community. In my mind, this is what we hope Hastings to be: child-centered and community-minded, working together to create a safe, inclusive environment for all children. As we move forward, we need to continue to empower our children to give their voice to the events that have happened and what comes next."

Superintendent McKersie ensured families that a team of educators, including specialists in special education and diversity, equity and inclusion, are developing preventative ways to support students in the future. 

“All students have a right to be respected and to learn, without fear of being targeted,” he said. 

Helpful resources will be provided to the community following the break and included in a subsequent Hastings Happenings.

Watch a short photo montage of the event below: