Students Breaking Borders

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Seven student leaders from Syosset and Freeport high schools have been getting together to talk about the things that make them both different and the same while also sharing opinions on issues of topical interest through a pilot program called Breaking Borders.

Last month, a group of students from Syosset High School visited Freeport High School to kick off the program. This month, the Freeport students came to Syosset for a 60-minute intimate exchange in the school courtyard that covered topics such as immigration, school security, gun control and the presidential race.

According to Syosset High School’s Breaking Borders program adviser David Steinberg, Syosset sophomore Jake Gould came to him about starting the program after participating in a summer program involving Israeli and Palestinian students. Jake said the program opened his eyes to the importance of understanding views from different cultures.

“When I am in Syosset, I’m around a certain group of kids for 10 months out of the year, but if I go five miles down the road I can meet a completely different group of people of different races, religions and socioeconomic standpoints, ” said Jake. “We have our political views and goals in life, and Freeport students have their views and goals. Both are valid, so why not take the opportunity to take advantage of how close we are and break down any walls that may exist between the two schools.”

“We are associating with students of other races and backgrounds with different opinions, all things that you sometimes are not exposed to because of the community you live in,” said Freeport junior Ismary Jiminez. “I have learned so much more about different people, and as a group, we get to break stereotypes. You start to see that we all are the same human race and we can all communicate with each other. It really helps us to bond. ”

Steinberg said the students are driving the program and he hopes that the early exchanges give them direction in shaping Breaking Borders going into next year.
Jake, Ismary, Steinberg and Freeport Breaking Borders advisers Josh Levitt and Jose Ortiz all agree that they would like to see the program grow to allow for larger representation from both schools.

Pictured are Breaking Borders participants from Freeport and Syosset High Schools: Seated (L-R) are Orianna Soriano, Jake Gould, Zachary Chan, Victoria Wright, Peri Lund, Ismary Jimenez and Carly Battipaglia. Standing (L-R) are teachers/advisers Jose Ortiz, David Steinberg  and Josh Levitt.