Freshmen Spirit Day at St. Mary’s


BY DANIEL H. RIVERA

Often in our high school careers, we see students acting out of intolerance and non-acceptance of others whether it is because of color, creed or personal beliefs. Such is not the case at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset.

In January during NYS Regents Week, our freshmen attended Spirit Day.   Led  by numerous seniors and faculty, Spirit Day teaches freshmen to look beyond the surface of others, to accept everyone regardless of who he or she is. It stretches beyond the practice of tolerance because tolerance acts to allow a neutral existence alongside someone who may differ whereas acceptance allows a positive interaction between differing people who take pride in and accept their mutual differences. In addition, each grows from the knowledge gained through exploring their differences.

Freshmen experienced different icebreakers to learn more about their many peers. Then they got to screen the movie “The Human Experience,” a documentary produced by Grassroots Films. The film follows a group of friends who travel the world in search of answers to the questions: WHO AM I? WHO IS MAN? and WHY DO WE SEARCH FOR MEANING? Their travels take them to experience homelessness on the streets of New York City, to meet disabled children in the jungles of Peru, and to experience community in a leper colony in the jungles of Ghana. The men conclude that regardless of race, religion and capability, we all share a common, human spirit and the will to live. From what I heard from the freshmen, they were deeply impacted by the film and felt that it was a great representation of what Spirit Day is all about. The film was followed by a surprise question-and-answer session with the film’s producers which helped some freshmen a great deal in extrapolating the meaning of the film.

The screening and Q & A were followed by a catered lunch featuring many cuisines from cultures including Mexican, American and Greek, just to name a few. I, for one, felt the food was superbly prepared and a great symbol of the Spirit Day credo. The 2009 Spirit Day went off without a hitch and paves the way for another great Spirit Day next year. It also sets an example for other schools to pick up the “acceptance torch” and implement similar measures of their own.

DANIEL RIVERA is a senior member of the Scholar Service Institute at St. Mary’s High School, Manhasset.