Lynbrook senior class president Dustin Mandell said Feb. 15 turned out to be the perfect time for the Student Government Association to host the annual Human Relations Day event. In the aftermath of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla. the day before, he noted it was a good time to unite students and talk about important issues.
“The theme #LHSFamily really applied to us because of the events, with the shootings that happened [on Feb. 14],” said Mandell, a member of the SGA, referencing the hashtag used on social media by students and staff throughout Human Relations Day. “We just wanted to come together and show how lucky and fortunate we are to be in a united community, and that theme was reflected in the speakers that were chosen.”
Human Relations Day is an annual school event entirely organized by the Student Government Association. The day is comprised of many speakers who come in for 10 periods and discuss opics and issues relevant to students.
The keynote speakers for the event were Jacy Good and Steve Johnson from Hang Up and Drive, an organization that aims to put an end to distracted driving. Good was involved in a car crash in 2008, caused by a distracted driver, which took the lives of her parents and left her partially paralyzed. Since the accident, Good and Johnson have made it a mission to educate people on the dangers of distracted driving and texting while driving.
Many students said their message resonated with them, including Leah Hetrick, the secretary of the senior class. “Texting and driving is just so relevant today,” she said. “We’re all seniors and we all drive now, so we’re especially impacted by all of this.”
Other topics discussed during the event included gender identity and acceptance, substance abuse, youth crime, alcohol and drug dependency, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Representatives from SIBS Place, a Hewlett-based organization that serves children battling cancer and other illnesses, also spoke.
In addition, Nassau County Community Affairs Officer Joe Nunez delivered a presentation to the students. Ruthanne McCormick, the project coordinator for the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, which has a goal to prevent youth substance abuse and strategize with the community on education and prevention initiatives, also started a dialogue with students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Rebecca Realmuto, the outreach coordinator of Dynamic Youth Community, which works with the Coalition for Youth, brought along a former addict to share his story with the students.
The days’ festivities also included a multicultural luncheon, hosted by the PTA, which brought in food from many different nationalities. During the event, SGA members also gave out discount cards and other prizes to students and staff members who go above and beyond without getting recognition, which they dubbed the Random Acts of Kindness Awards.
“Lynbrook High School is an extraordinarily special place,” said Mary Kirby, the faculty adviser for the Student Government Association. “The compassion, the kindness, the unbelievable sense of belonging that Lynbrook High School gives to the students here every day is one in a million.”
The SGA is comprised of freshman through senior students. In addition to organizing Human Relations Day, the group also plans homecoming events, sets up fundraisers for football games and collaborates with the Lynbrook Recreation Center on various events. It also helps out any student in need.
“It really does make a difference in our school,” said senior Sam Tucker, the class vice president. “When anyone has a problem, they come to us, and we’re really like the voice of the people here.”