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Letter: Open Letter to Principal Michael Demartino

This is a public thank you to Mr. Michael DeMartino, the principal of New Hyde Park Memorial High for what he calls an inspirational thought, but what I call, to paraphrase my kids, awesome.  

This inspirational thought has become character building lessons for our seventh- and eighth-grade children.  He has, together with Ms. Melissa Argaman, started an anti-bullying course which begins with character building and has been incorporated into a monthly theme. 

It can take one action of bullying, be it a nickname or an incident to alter the mental health and growth of a child. This action can be carried silently or manifest later to show up in failing grades, personality changes, the use of drugs,  alcohol or in some cases suicide. 

Mr. DeMartino , Ms. Argaman and the 40 faculty volunteers understand the devastating effects bullying can have on a child and have decided to tackle it head on and in a way that children can relate to.  The guidance counselors actually visit the classrooms themselves to address the month’s topic.  This month’s topic is courage.  

Most bullied children, as Ms. Argaman stated, are between the sixth and ninth grades.  Children who are on the receiving end of being bullied feel alone, they assume that somehow their teachers and principal will help them , but in too many cases, protocol is followed and it is not always in the best interest of the child and the hope for help is proven useless. 

They are usually afraid or embarrassed to tell their parents.  These children now will have the security that there is a principal, guidance counselors and 40 teacher volunteers that “have their back”.

Thank you Mr. DeMartino  for putting our children first . Thank you Ms. Argaman for spearheading this effort. While I am aware that character building begins at home, I am also aware that in some instances this is not the case and that there are some children who need to make their life feel important by taking trophies and self worth in the form of the humiliation, embarrassment and pain of others.

 I understand the effects of technology and that it is sometimes beyond our reach of protection. I personally have been involved in trying to get many anti- bullying programs enacted, but many have been stonewalled in regards to the rights of the bully.  

I do believe that this program is a start and each month’s character building theme will help our children learn that there is strength in numbers and give them the confidence and courage to speak out to the many caring adults available in the school should the need arise.  

Michele Chambers