The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

Human Relations Day ‘24 Dares Students to Dream

Courtesy+of+%40lbk_sga+Instagram+page
Courtesy of @lbk_sga Instagram page

 

One of the most cherished annual LHS traditions, Human Relations Day (HRD), took place on Thursday, Feb. 15. Organized by the Student Government Association (SGA), the highly-anticipated event allows students to hear inspiring stories from speakers of different career paths and backgrounds, even from some who are LHS alums. Speakers who attended in-person or virtually spoke to students during their English and social studies class periods that day. 

This year’s theme was “Follow Your Dreams,” and when asked what inspired the idea, SGA member and senior Caroline Larow explained, “A bunch of very good themes [were] thought of by our members. However, we really wanted to highlight the messages of our speakers to stay true to yourself, find your passion, and ‘follow your dreams.’” SGA co-advisor and social studies teacher Nicole DiBenedetto added that the theme was settled based on a GroupMe poll vote, and “‘Follow Your Dreams’ came out on top!”

This year’s SGA advisors DiBenedetto and physical education teacher Brian Donaldson worked with members to reach out to speakers in addition to coordinating the schedule for the day and acquiring sponsors in the local area. This year, HRD had 17 sponsors, which included SaVino’s, 16 Handles, Doughology, Dunkin’, and Carvel. Cooperating businesses donated gift cards that went towards the classic LHS tradition, “Random Acts of Kindness,” where some students are surprised throughout the day and given gift cards. 

As for the speakers in attendance, the SGA featured 14 speakers for this year’s event. SGA was able to bring back some HRD favorites, such as the Lynbrook Police Department, the FealGood Foundation, and Mike Knobloch as well as invite new speakers: Jim Niebler, Danny Weinkauf, and Mary Beth Tinker. DiBenedetto shared, “It was important to find speakers that students would enjoy hearing from. As it was my first year planning the event, I asked students in SGA which speakers they liked in the past and would want to invite back.” She also added how former SGA advisor Mary Kirby kindly assisted in providing the contact information of some past speakers to help get started. 

This year saw the return of quite a few LHS alums. Jim Niebler spoke about his job as a producer on LIVE with Kelly and Mark. Dean Blandino, analyst for Fox Sports, returned to speak about his job as the head of officiating for the XFL. Some classes had the opportunity to meet Grammy Award-winner and bassist Danny Weinkauf. Others heard stories from Mike Knobloch, a returning HRD speaker and president of music and publishing at NBCUniversal. 

Organizations such as the Long Island Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), the FealGood Foundation, The Viscardi School, and Sunrise Day Camp made time to come speak to students as well. TRIO is a non-profit committed to helping individuals in need of an organ transplant. The FealGood Foundation is dedicated to advocating for first responders who have been injured in their line of work and need financial assistance. Joe Slaninka came in person on behalf of The Viscardi School, an institution that provides academic programs for severely disabled children, to speak about his time working there. Deanna Slade, along with other representatives of Sunrise Day Camp, spoke about their dedication to helping children with cancer. 

Another returning speaker was Professor Asher Matathias, who recounted the experiences of surviving the Holocaust with his parents. Matathias discussed how he was born in a cave in Greece in 1943 as a result of the Holocaust. Also returning was Officer Meier of the Lynbrook Police Department; he focused on safe driving and the dangers of social media. 

As for new speakers this year, LHS had a virtual visit from Mary Beth Tinker, a free speech activist known for her role in the pivotal 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. The final ruling of this case ended in the protection of students’ free rights outside of school under the First Amendment, a major conclusion that affects students across the country. “I’d say that Mary Beth Tinker was my favorite presenter. Even through Zoom you could feel her passion for advocating for what [she] believes in. It was especially cool to hear more about the Tinker v. Des Moines court case in our AP Government class,” Larow shared.

Exploring the business side of things, entrepreneur Chuck Perl participated in his first HRD and answered students’ questions, as well as shared some of his tips for success. SGA also lined up Senior Manager of Nathan’s Famous, Inc. Sean Roemig, who is also a Lynbrook parent, to talk about his experiences.  

 At this year’s HRD, many students and staff members were moved and inspired by the stories they heard. “I took many valuable lessons away from it that I hope students did too. [For instance], Danny Weinkauf shared that in his house growing up, music wasn’t fostered, and athletics was the focus. However, when he learned to play the bass, he was happy to pursue his passions and do something for himself that he truly wanted to do,” said DiBenedetto. 

“This annual event is important because it helps kids realize that there are so many options for careers in the future. It [also shows] that you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do right now, but it will work out and you will find something you love to do,” junior Bennet Votano expressed.

 

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About the Contributor
Miranda Mangru, Online Editor-in-Chief
Hi! My name is Miranda N. Mangru. I am a member of the Class of 2025 and am delighted to write for our school's newspaper, Horizon. Other extracurriculars I partake in include Student Diversity Council, ASL Club, Speech & Debate, and National History Day '24. Outside of school I take pleasure in listening to music, watching films, and spending quality time with my family. I hope you are enjoying all of Horizon’s great content!