‘Respect For All' Week Has Lasting Impact

Post date: Apr 4, 2011 12:21:12 PM

“Respect for All Week” had such a powerful impact at Boody that some students have taken steps to create a permanent legacy to fight bullying at I.S. 228.

The major event of Respect for All Week at Boody was an inspiring presentation by retired police Sgt. Lou Savelli, who was Detective Squad Commander of the NYPD Terrorism Interdiction Unit and the NYPD Detective Bureau. During two decades as a law enforcement officer, Sgt. Savelli spent considerable time fighting gangs, some of them near the school. But his main theme for the students at I.S. 228 was combating bullying.

“People bully people more today than ever before and they use the Internet for that reason,” Mr. Savelli told students in the school’s packed auditorium. He emphasized that students who are aware of bullying should tell a teacher.

Mr. Savelli was brought to the school by Principal Dominick A. D’Angelo, who has initiated a powerful anti-bullying campaign at I.S. 228, featuring an original student musical, “The Dragonslayer,” created in conjunction with the Council for Unity, which started more than 30 years ago as an anti-gang effort at John Dewey High School in Coney Island. First performed last year, “The Dragonslayer” will be performed again in April and the script and songs are being made available to other schools.

Following Mr. Savelli’s presentation, five different students came to Boody’s Council for Unity Chapter Advisor Cristen Losquadro and said they were being bullied. “As a result, our eighth-grade students in the Council decided to create a Legacy Project to fight bullying,” Ms. Losquadro said. “We have established a room for peer mediation where students can address the issue of bullying head-on. We’re very excited that our students saw the need for a place to talk about bullying and took the steps necessary to establish a special room for this purpose.”

Mr. D’Angelo, who told students at the assembly that they should avoid sites like Facebook and MySpace, said he was glad the school’s Council is proactive in combating bullying. “This is a problem that raises its head in every school, but we are determined to fight it every way we can,” Mr. D’Angelo said. “I am grateful to see our student leaders joining with us to make this a safe and nurturing place.”

In addition to Mr. Savelli’s presentation during Respect for All Week, Boody’s CFU chapter sold lollipops to raise money. They also led efforts during the winter holidays to collect canned food and used coats for the needy, and have visited nursing homes in Coney Island to cheer up residents and converse with them in English, Russian and Spanish.

“Education is a lot more than reading and math,” said Mr. D’Angelo. “Our goal is to teach our students the importance of giving back to the community, because that is when you truly receive.” Boody kicked off its anti-bullying campaign in the fall with a powerful presentation by John Halligan, father of a boy who committed suicide after being bullied online and in his Vermont middle school. Mr. Halligan has spoken throughout the country, but I.S. 228 marked his first appearance at a New York City public school. He will return to Boody in 2012.