No Place for Hate is Coming Back Strong


Zoe Toperosky (she/her), Staff Writer

We have a new generation coming in and taking on the ambitious goal to make our school a better place. No Place For Hate came to our school in 2019 after students of color felt that their concerns were not being addressed. 

No Place For Hate is a program that is partnered with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), that focuses on building communities with safe and inclusive spaces and values. 

Ayesha Coning is the 11th grade vice principal at IBW and the project manager of NPFH.

“Three years ago when I came back to IBW, it was after a really tumultuous year of race, issues around race, where students of color particularly did not feel supported, or noticed.” said Coning.

A couple of parents came to Coning and Principal Filip Hristić with the idea of bringing NPFH to the school. After researching the program, Coning and Hristić decided to apply to bring the program to IBW. 

“We decided what we can do to empower our students to have a voice and to take action? And how can we support them?” said Coning. 

In January 2020, the first group of students went through the NPFH training. 30 students were trained, and ready to start applying their new found knowledge to make a change at our school, and then COVID hit.

Despite the global pandemic, the current seniors continued to persist despite the struggles of being online. 

“I’m super proud of these seniors, because these are seniors who’ve been committed for three years.” said Coning, “The senior group is amazing, because we’ve been in a pandemic, we haven’t been able to really honor and recognize them in a way that I wanted to.”

The seniors this year are in a  unique position, they get to pass on their knowledge onto the underclassmen. With most of them being a part of No Place For Hate for  two years, they are able to lay the groundwork for future generations to feel empowered to make a change. 

In the 2021 school year there were about 12 people running the program, this year there are close to 40 members. This year there were two training sessions to bring in new Sophomores and Juniors into NPFH.

“Obviously, the work that we’re doing here isn’t going to, you know, snap it back in place, but it’s creating a foundation for other students to build off of us.” Hui Hui Hutchison said, one of the original members of NPFH and a current senior.  

There was a physical change to our school recently that will help change the environment of our school. The name and mascot of our school changed to Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School and our mascot changed to the Guardians. 

The process of the school name change was to proactively create a more inclusive environment.” said Hutchison, “In continuing to advocate for visible change in the school, many students and teachers and the site council focused our efforts on removing the mural and changing the name and school mascot.”

The hope has always been to create opportunities for action to better the school culture.” said Hutchison, “NPFH and the Name Change process relate to one another because of the students whose determination to make change in the school was taken seriously.” 

Coning has her own thoughts on how the program is doing with its new members.

“I would say it’s a super dedicated group,” said Coning about the newly recruited members, “This is all a voluntary based project and program. Students have been coming here consistently.” 

With ambitious goals and a passion for change, No Place For Hate continues to grow. 

“They [the new members of NPFH]  offer a new perspective and a new lens on this community, as things change, people change, the world changes so that they offer so much more perspective,” Hutchison said, “As a new generation, they’re a really strong, you know, very outgoing, optimistic group of people.”

Margot Pullen is a junior at IBW and a new member of NPFH. She said, “Going back to school this year, I was thinking about, like, what can I be doing personally to impact and affect change here?” 

When given the tools and the platform to make a change in the school community, students feel empowered to speak out against hate and take action to fix long standing issues. . No Place For Hate gives students a chance to channel their leadership and activism skills to make a real change in their community. 

“I think you are just trying to make sure that student experience can be about learning and not having to think about the ways that your identity might be used against you or having to deal with harassment or bias from teachers or students, because it comes from everywhere.” Pullen said.

With the new name of the school, it is important  that steps continue to be taken to shape IBW’s environment. The No Place for Hate team will continue to dedicate themselves to making sure that tangible change happens.

Sophomore, Ajay Custer, is another new addition to the NPFH team. “I feel like I’m really a part of something and making a change, which matters to me,” said Custer.

At the end of the day, students just want to ensure a healthy school environment going forward , and with the new team members, it’s looking like they’re continuing to make those important strides.