Amityville High School students build bridges

Amityville High School students build bridges photo

The school week ended just before 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 for most students at Amityville Memorial High School, but approximately 100 sophomores, juniors and seniors wouldn’t go home for another 32 hours. They took part in the annual Awareness Weekend, a 15-year tradition that includes an overnight stay in the school along with bonding activities.

The program began in the auditorium with keynote speaker Eric Moss, whose presentation, “The Strongman Experience,” included various feats of strengths such as breaking chains and locks. Students were inspired to believe in themselves and realize that they are capable of achieving greatness.  

The theme for the weekend was “Knock Down Walls, Build Bridges.” There was a student panel with personal stories, a presentation on strength and hope, a guest speaker on distracted driving and free time. Students were split into family groups, led by a staff member and a student facilitator, in which they participated in discussions and role-playing exercises. 

Teacher Jason McGowan, who coordinates the event, said the students gain insight into each other and themselves. They foster a sense of acceptance and respect that continues when the weekend is over.  

“Our multi-cultural population has an opportunity to understand our similarities and to celebrate our uniqueness,” he said. “The bond that occurs between students and staff will help our building to be a physically and emotionally safe place.”

Added junior Angela Kalin, “Awareness Weekend was one of the greatest moments in my life and I feel like I've grown as a person.”