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Honoring The 220th Anniversary Of The Bill Of Rights

The Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union commemorates the Bill of Rights at St. Paul's National Historic Site in Mount Vernon on Thursday.

Several area high school students have been honored for their essays on bullying in the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Bill of Rights Essay Contest.

The event, marking the 220th Anniversary of the first 10 amendments to the  Constitution and held at St. Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon, a national historic site, was sponsored by the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the NYCLU at its annual celebration of Bill of Rights Day.

The winners were joined by students and teachers from Clarkstown North High School in New City, Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon and Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose.

The selection of St. Paul’s Church as the site of the celebration is significant. It was at this location in 1733 following a controversial election which ultimately led to a significant victory for freedom and religion.

The program opened with remarks from David Osborne, Site Director of St. Paul’s Historic Site, and Mount Vernon City Councilwoman Roberta Apuzzo. Next, ten students were each asked to read aloud one of the amendments that make up The Bill of Rights.  

Jim Bostic, executive director of Nepperhan Community Center in Yonkers, then delivered the keynote address. He shared with the students his heartfelt story of growing up as a foster child, who was targeted by bullies for being short, overweight, and fashion-challenged.

He spoke of how the harassment increased after a thrown iceball cost him the sight in one eye. The students were riveted by his story of defeat and ultimate triumph. The young tormented Bostic grew tall and lean and went on to excel as a basketball player at New Mexico State University and then as a player in the National Basketball Association.

He urged the audience to “celebrate diversity and respect, watch the world unfold before your eyes, it’s a beautiful place to live in.”

Next, Ralph Stein, professor of Law at Pace University, led the students in a discussion about bullying and the role schools should play. One Thornton student shared that she was able to transform her experience as a victim into becoming a “stronger individual who is resilient,” Stein noted, however that, while some people rebound from a bad experience and become stronger, “...not everyone is a Tom Paine.”

Awards were presented to winners of the Bill of Rights Essay Contest. This year’s contest asked students to consider how school administrators should address bullying.

Present to read their winning essays to the crowd  and receive their awards were  Robert Liebowitz of Tuckahoe High School (first place), Alex Linkoff of Clarkstown North High School (second place), and Yassine El Yousfi of Nellie A. Thornton High School (best-in-school). Andrew Kim of Clarkstown South High School, also a best-in school winner, was unable to attend.

Jill Gertz December 17, 2011 at 12:10 AM
The civil rights movement jumped the shark along time ago. Civil rights language and "diversity" are being used as a weapon. You see this in the way the feds criminalize wealthy Westchester communities for being too white. People are losing rights and freedom from heavy handed government under a perversion of rights. The same is true of the bullying agenda. The fantastically corrupt Obama DoJ is making bullying a civil rights issue because of ONE groups political ambitions to silence any criticism of their behavior and force acceptance on children in schools. They will absolutely seek to criminalize spoken opposition to them as "hate speech". The bats are in the belfry at every level in America.
dleighg December 21, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Jill, perhaps if your dearly loved child were gay, you might be a little less accepting of bullying or hate speech.
Jill Gertz December 21, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Millions of kids are bullied for all sorts of reasons. The fact you chose to focus on a minuscule group shows part of the problem. For years bullies have been allowed to have their way in schools. They had to be treated as victims too. Now the same liberals and PC types who protected bullies want to use bullying to advance the homosexual re-education movement in schools. "Bullies" will be defined as anyone not in step with homosexual ambition to control and criminalize speech, religion etc. The homosexual groups are generally vicious in their hatred of religion or any talk of morality in general. They would have no problem with mocking and tormenting a religious kid in school. Heaven forbid a kid says they want to be a virgin. Those are the kids who are now treated as disordered (asexual they are called). Anyone who thinks humanity has a divine spark and conscience is portrayed as primitive - while sodomy is portrayed as sophisticated. America is being turned upside down and a pseudo-moral facade is being used to do it.
RealTimeRufus December 21, 2011 at 06:58 PM
While I do not always agree with Jill, she makes some interesting points. I never thought about it before but she’s right about bullies once being thought of as victims but now thought of as aggressors. As far as the homosexual lifestyle, I don’t want it shoved in my face. Case in point: last night on the bus ride home, this girl and guy sat behind me. They were both in their 20s, it appeared. The guy starts talking loudly, in an effeminate manner, about being a “sucky boyfriend”. Then he says, “I'd rather him take me to a diner and pay for it himself than have his mother pay at a fancy place.” So now I know he’s a gay dude and he’s complaining about his “partner” to the girl friend. Fine. But then he starts talking about spending $200 on Louis Vuitton luggage and that’s when I lost it. I mean, what the hell? And he’s practically shouting the whole time. Of course, I couldn’t say anything because then I’d be a “phobe”. But why do they have to wear this stuff on their sleeve? I don’t like when heteros do it and I don’t like when non-heteros do it. Just shut up, mind your own business, act with a little dignity, and stop thinking you’re better than everyone. Then he got up and I saw he was wearing some kind of none-too-manly scarf. If I wasn’t bus-sick already, I was then. As far as the Constitution, it died in April 1865 at Appomattox C.H.

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