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Students urged to erase hate

September 22, 1998

Anti-hate groupBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Students at J. Frank Faust Junior High School normally are not allowed to wear hats inside the building, but on Tuesday scores of students and faculty were wearing headgear ranging from baseball caps to Cat-in-the-Hat toppers.

Each also sported an "Erase the Hate" button as part of Erase the Hate Week at the school for the Chambersburg Area School District's 1,280 eighth- and ninth-graders.

"Diversity is in a whole bunch of areas you don't even realize," former Shippensburg University discus champ Todd Cress told about 600 ninth-graders at an assembly Tuesday morning.

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He said it was important for each to express his or her own personality without being upset when others do the same.

Except for a considerable difference in size, Cress, 22, did not look much different from those he was addressing. He was dressed in a baseball cap, T-shirt, shorts and sneakers.

Assistant Principal Mike Myers said Erase the Hate began about four years ago to reduce ethnic and cultural tensions among students. "The need was there and everyone saw the need," he said.

He said minorities make up about 10 percent of the student population, with the fastest growing group being Hispanics. In addition to assemblies, Myers said the issue of diversity is incorporated in classroom lessons.

"Some of the problems we have with fights are perhaps related to racial issues, but it's definitely getting better," Assistant Principal David Darrah said. The school year started three weeks ago and Darrah said there has been one student scuffle that was believed to be racially motivated.

"The only thing that hate destroys is yourself. You hate stuff if you don't understand it, or are afraid of it," Cress said to the students.

"People may hate you, but the people that hate you don't win unless you hate them back," said Cress, who plans to make a career out of motivational speaking.

He said he became involved in multicultural programs at Shippensburg University.

After the assembly, several students said they either had not experienced, or were unaware of, racial problems at the school.

Lambert Strayer, 14, said he thinks the program is important because, "Kids actually start to think about stuff like that when people talk about it."

Strayer said he has heard students make racist remarks.

"I know I should say something, but I don't want to get involved in other people's business," he said.

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