Seven student leaders from Freeport and Syosset high schools have been meeting 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 went to Syosset for a 60-minute intimate exchange in the school courtyard that covered topics including immigration, school security, gun control and the presidential race.
According to social studies teacher Joshua Levitt, who oversees the Breaking Borders program with Jose Ortiz at Freeport High School, “The purpose is to enlighten the students on the similarities in the struggles they face as teenagers on Long Island. For example, the purpose of speaking about the presidential primary during the most recent meeting was for the students to gauge what they have in common.” Levitt also said that the goal is to have a program in place between Freeport and Syosset high schools over the next few years.
“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. ”
According to Syosset High School’s Breaking Borders program adviser David Steinberg, the students are driving the program; he hopes that the early exchanges give them direction in shaping Breaking Borders going into next year.
“We have our political views and goals in life, and Freeport students have their views and goals,” said Syosset sophomore Jake Gould. “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.”
Moving forward, the goal will be to allow the program to grow to enable more students from both schools to participate.