“WE ARE WHITE PLAINS: BRIDGING, BELONGING, BUILDING COMMUNITY” CHANGES ATTITUDES OF ALL AGES AT WHITE PLAINS HIGH

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The NEW Multi-media Showcase Exposes Attitudes, Shatters Hate, Connects Students, Shows All Ages What Hate Reaps.  Public views Monday at 3 PM. Eastview and Highlands Schools Host Next

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYSBy John F. Bailey. March 18, 2023:

Four hundred White Plains High School Students have seen it and come back for more.

The public gets its chance to see the exhibition Monday at 3 PM. It will move to Eastview Middle School and Highlands Middle School later in the spring. It is a meaningful hit with the students school officials related Friday afternoon at the official opening.

Mayor Thomas Roach of White Plains said that Ellen Berger had approached him with participating in the photo shoot and the idea for the exhibit to White Plains, and Dr. Joseph Ricca was enthusiastic, feeling the high school being the best place to make “We Are White Plains” message educate the children of White Plains on the consequences of hate, and the history of the Holocaust,.

Beyete’ Ross Smith, the photographer of the pictures of local personalities displayed in the venture explained how he learned appearances can send a negative or a positive image was in college when he and his fellow classmates dressed up for a business conference they were invited to and spoke and dressed in “business talk,” and how differently they were perceived by the executives who ran the conference.

I asked him why all the photos he took were not smiling (to show a different impression of those photographs).

Mr. Ross Smith said people do not usually smile as they see you, but the appearance of how they look leaves the impression upon which impressions are based, on which initial first impressions (fear, suspicion, coldness) are formed. He is shown with the founders of Close Circles standing in the background.

Lieutenant Governor  Antonio  Delgado,in his opening address noted that Governor Kathy Hochul has made the Holocaust history mandated in  curriculum for schools in New York State. He noted that the pictures of White Plains personalities on display in various outfits with stern faces, recalled his own youth of the rise of Hip Hop that gave expression to his generation, and observed the “traveling museum” as founders of Common Circles who custom created the show for White Plains using school and city officials, teachers, hoped to make it a traveling museum to go across the country in the future. A previous custom show was created for the Omaha Nebraska schools.

Lieutenant Governor Delgado said it would be a great traveling museum.

Dr. Joseph Ricca in his introduction to the exhibit emphasized that we all must be vigilant and fight against hate each time it rises in the community, “otherwise they win.”   Ricca said the exhibit shows “where White Plains is going.”

The founders of Common Circles introduced the ceremony before a crowd of well-wishers of  approximately 75 people,  Marla Felton, Founder,(left) and Sue Spiegel, Creative Director, explained how the concept came about. (This picture is shown in black and white to emphasize the visual point of Mr. Ross Smith’s photographs).

Ms. Felton said her uncle was a Holocaust survivor who was liberated from the Buchenwald death camp by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. “We Are White Plains is a tool for a model for schools across the nation Four hundred  students have  gone through the exhibit since last Wedsneday, and they want to come back.”

WPHS Principal Emerly Martinez told me the students are thrilled with the interactive nature of the show and it is  very attractive to them. He said students use their free time during the school day to come back and learn from the past in an interactive little theatre in the White Plains Library, where they can listen and ask questions of

Anita Lasker-Wallfish and Alan Moskin, survivors of the Holocaust(below)

You can read more about the exhibit at www.commoncircles.org

State Senator Shelley Mayer had this statement:

“I was honored to attend the grand opening of “We are White Plains,” a traveling, interactive exhibit that teaches about the Holocaust and focuses on identity, bridging, belonging, and building community.

I am also humbled and honored to have been featured in the exhibit, alongside other members of the Westchester community.

Students of White Plains High School have interacted with this exhibit throughout this past week, and each student has left learning more about history, empathy, and shared connections.  

I applaud and thank Common Circles, the Non Profit that led this initiative, with their Founder Marla Felton and Creative Director Sue Spiegel; along with the Photographer, Bayetè Ross Smith. I also applaud the White Plains School District, the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony,and Ellen Berger for their unwavering support of this remarkable exhibit.

State Senator Shelley Mayer issued this comment on the exhibit:

I was honored to attend the grand opening of “We are White Plains,” a traveling, interactive exhibit that teaches about the Holocaust and focuses on identity, bridging, belonging, and building community.

I am also humbled and honored to have been featured in the exhibit, alongside other members of the Westchester community.

Students of White Plains High School have interacted with this exhibit throughout this past week, and each student has left learning more about history, empathy, and shared connections.  

I applaud and thank Common Circles, the Non Profit that led this initiative, with their Founder Marla Felton and Creative Director Sue Spiegel; along with the Photographer, Bayetè Ross Smith. I also applaud the White Plains School District, the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony,and Ellen Berger for their unwavering support of this remarkable exhibit.

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