Trumbull’s Truth About Hate

Keerthi Yalamanchili ’17
EE Senior Features Editor

This was the question that freshmen answered at the 5th annual Truth about Hate assembly on March 24th. Their first 7 months at Trumbull High seemed to be enough to answer the question. But the more important question – what they could do about it – was the center of the 4 hour gathering.

The Anti – Defamation League, an international organization dedicated to ending discrimination and hate violence, coordinates this program in order to equip freshmen with tools to combat hate and to prepare them for the rest of their high school career in Trumbull High.

The program began with peer leaders introducing freshmen to ground rules for students to follow when sharing their thoughts with the rest of their class. Once those were taken care of, leaders and the two moderators from the ADL for the day jumped right into a documentary which had set the tone for the day. It was centered around young, ignorant people that had considered themselves white supremacists or Neo-Nazis before they had come to understand real-life victims who soon changed their minds. With education from a Holocaust victim and a victim of violence from the Ku Klux Klan, the teens rid their thoughts and decided to keep more open minds.

After the video, the peer leaders and moderators focused in on specific types of hatred by explaining the pyramid of hate and reciting stories of students across Connecticut. By identifying each level of hate with specific instances that actually occurred, freshmen were able to understand how with time, hate grows immensely horrific if not stopped.

To focus on Trumbull High School, freshmen watched a video created by THS peer leaders that was a reflection of students’ experiences here at Trumbull High. A team of 7 juniors – Nicole Baker, Brianna Wigglesworth, Colby Laracuente, Victoria Estacio, Bridget Nusom, Jacob Fried and Samantha Werner – all worked together to emulate the Trumbull High School experience and what the Truth about Hate is here. This was the first homemade video that was ever created for Trumbull High’s assembly, and one of the first that have been done in the assembly’s history in Connecticut.

Freshman Soumya Ganti thought that the video was “applicable, relatable and perfect in describing hate at Trumbull High.” It was evident to her and the majority of freshmen that this team put in a lot of dedicated effort into brainstorming, creating, and editing the video for this assembly and many more assemblies to be done in the future.

The next portion of the assembly was the most personal of the entire event: the Open Mic. This was a time where students of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and social groups came together to share their stories and to emphasize the need for acceptance in our high school. They all contained passion and had touched every person in the room, making an experience that freshmen would not forget. It was eye opening for the students, as it had educated them on the fact that acts of hatred happens more than they think and has impacted more people than they thought.

“After the Open Mic, I had a better understanding of how our actions really impact people. I hope that people out there realize the impact of the things that the say and how they could potentially be hurting others, just like I did,” Ganti says.

Even peer leaders were touched by the open mic. Connor Bailo, a junior at Trumbull High, says that he “was able to realize the power that words have and how important it is to remain mindful of what I say. Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

So what is the Truth about Hate at Trumbull High?

Every student has a different experience in high school, so it is not something that can be easily defined. But what can be defined are our actions being used to create a positive, accepting environment for students to learn and grow as individuals.

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