The 420 students who attend SS. Robert & William School in Euclid joined the movement to make their school “No Place for Hate,” a program presented by the Anti-Defamation League that focuses on social justice through education and service.
SS. Robert & William is one of 1,600 schools across the country and the largest elementary school that participates. For three consecutive years the school has received national award recognition from the ADL by incorporating inter-faith education and activities focused on acceptance and tolerance.
The students shared what makes the school award-winning on Oct. 7 when Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated Mass for the first time with the students. As part of the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, the students did a living rosary with the beginning prayers in Spanish, Latin, Slovenian, Czech and English.
During his homily, Bishop Perez congratulated the students for what they had achieved. “Your actions that granted your school this award were not just intentional motions. They were prayerful, they take into account humanity and our Catholic values.”
Students in grades 6-8 participate in a project that involves the whole school to promote the message of acceptance and tolerance. They helped build and create buddy benches and installed a Peace Pole that features the script, “Peace on Earth,” in eight languages. The No Place for Hate student leaders walked Bishop Perez to the outdoor area after sharing how the program has helped change their school culture and made a positive impact on their life.
Led by teacher Patrice Garuckas, the group of 32 students have hosted religious leaders of other denominations at their school, designed a No Name Calling Week and created an all-school video about anti-bullying.
Jayah, a middle school student, said, “Throughout my life I’ve been treated differently for a number of reasons and never really felt I belonged. But when No Place for Hate started a committee, I knew that I had to join and help make a difference. We have learned to love ourselves and each other more during our culture weeks and where some of us come from. No Place for Hate spreads the message that everyone is unique, beautiful and worthy of being loved.”
One of the students asked Bishop Perez what was his favorite thing about being a bishop. He replied, “Doing exactly what you are doing with this group. Sharing how our faith crosses cultures and encouraging others to take care of one another.”
The bishop explained to the students that outside of the diocese he is the chair for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Cultural Diversity Committee. He said he is eager to share the experience he had while visiting SS. Robert & William at the next committee meeting, which will take place during the USCCB fall meeting in November.