The students, staff and administrators at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School are working to start a chain reaction of kindness in their school, local community and beyond, thanks to a presentation on Oct. 11.
After two hourlong assemblies presented by Rachel’s Challenge, the school is committed to performing acts of kindness and compassion. Based on the life philosophy of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the challenge gives students an opportunity to see just how far a little kindness will go.
Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School students were presented with five challenges: look for the best in others; dream big; choose positive influences; speak with kindness; and start your own chain reaction. Students signed a banner to pledge their commitment to the challenge.
“Students learned the valuable lesson of how going out of your way to help someone else could be life changing,” said Jonathan Cutolo, assistant principal. “Rachel’s story provided examples of how she changed people’s life with a simple hello or a kind remark and its message has reached across the globe.”
In addition to the two assemblies, more than 100 Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School students and 20 staff members participated in a training session to help spread Rachel’s Challenge. Students worked in groups to brainstorm ways to promote kindness and reduce/eliminate the negative use of social media by other students. They also created goals/initiatives to implement throughout the school year.
More than 150 students and their families attended an evening presentation at the high school. Parents were able to see portions of the students’ presentation from the morning and learn how the program can spread positive change.
Thanks to a hands-on experience from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, more than three dozen driver’s education students at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School now have a better understanding of the dangers of drinking and driving.
On Oct. 4, the S.T.O.P.P.E.D. (Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers) community education program visited the school to demonstrate the effects of driving while intoxicated. Deputy Thomas Indence and Deputy Thomas Young spoke to the juniors and seniors about how one bad decision to get in the car after consuming alcohol could affect the rest of their lives.
More than just a lecture presentation, students then had the opportunity to test out their driving skills after having too much to drink. Students drove a pedal car through a cone maze while wearing goggles that impair their vision and balance as if under the influence of alcohol. The cones were designated as people and each time they hit a cone, they were responsible for taking a life.
After the simulated driving portion, students then had to wear the goggles and walk through the maze with a partner, trying to avoid the cones and get home safely.
Driver’s education instructor Karen Perrone and members of the Sheriff’s Office have been working together to present the program to Copiague students for the last six years in the hopes of spreading the message.