Marblehead High School Principal Dan Bauer was honored with a North Shore Community Award from the Anti-Defamation League at Kernwood Country Club in Salem Wednesday morning for his work combating antisemitism at the school.
Bauer was one of two recipients of the award, along with Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli, whose department responded to an incident where antisemitic banners were hung above Route 1. The event also featured remarks from U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins, Essex County District Attorney Paul Tucker, and ADL New England Regional Board Chair Joe Berman.
At the ceremony, ADL North Shore Advisory Committee Chair Melissa Kaplowitch called Bauer one of her favorite people, and praised him for the work he has done over the course of his seven years that has led Marblehead High School to “connect the dots.”
“I know that I am speaking on behalf of your colleagues, of the parents who are here today, the students who are here today, the members of the town who are here today, that we feel so honored and privileged to have been by your side over the last few years. We are going to miss you greatly,” Kaplowitch said, referencing Bauer’s impending departure from Marblehead to become superintendent of Danvers Public Schools.
Kaplowitch introduced her two children — Averi Kaplowitch, a Marblehead Class of 2018 graduate, and Jared Kaplowitch, a current Marblehead High School student — to present the award to Bauer.
Averi began by describing an antisemitic incident she faced when she was a sophomore at Marblehead High. A peer constructed a swastika out of pennies during a chemistry lab and posted it on Snapchat. The incident occurred before Bauer became principal, but he immediately sought action.
The high school quickly implemented the ADL’s World of Difference curriculum, offering a variety of programs aimed to help participants “recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society; explore the value of diversity; improve intergroup relations; and challenge racism, antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bias.” The program is still in place in Marblehead High School, nearly eight years after the incident occurred.
“As one who has gone through high school, college, and now graduate school, I have seen the way different professionals can be leaders and set examples for their students,” Averi said. “Mr. Bauer connects with his students, staff, and parents in a meaningful way. He is patient, he listens, and makes individual connections with everyone around him. As someone in charge of many people, this isn’t always easy to do. Yet, he does it with ease, making each student feel safe and heard.”
“I certainly don’t know how I would have navigated acts of hate in the aftermath of what I experienced without Mr. Bauer’s guidance, reassurance, and help that I was making the right decision and speaking up even though it’s very scary,” Averi added.
Jared was next to speak. He discussed the experience offered to students by the Hate Ends Now campaign bringing a World War ll-era replica cattle car exhibit to Marblehead High School. While the replica was at the high school, students were given the chance to enter it and hear a presentation on the reality of the Holocaust. Bauer had “no hesitation at all” when approached about the project, Jared said.
“This is just one example of many programs Mr. Bauer has brought to Marblehead High School that teaches students about life and the world more than a textbook,” he said, adding that Bauer has been a “source of strength” at the high school for seven years. “Every single student that is at Marblehead High School knows that Mr. Bauer, if they’re having a hard time, he will find a few minutes to talk to them out of his busy schedule. He takes the time to listen to students and help them find all voices and help them make good choices.”
Bauer was then presented the award by the Kaplowitchs. He expressed his gratitude for the recognition, calling it “humbling.” He spoke at length about the importance of building a culture and community inside the school where students and staff feel empowered.
He said he was proud of the work of teachers and staff, who have provided opportunities for students to bring positive change to the school, often by creating clubs and organizations.
“It’s so important that students have opportunities for connections to make not only their school a better place, but to take those examples for future endeavors. We have over 50 clubs and organizations as I said, mostly student-originated but staff-supported to bring change. We have over 25 different support groups that have been formed since I arrived, all teacher-driven,” Bauer said. “Teachers saw the need to help students and they took the time and effort to fill the gaps, even more so with post-COVID, which to me is just truly truly amazing for the work they’ve done.”
“This really is an award for our community, how great they’ve been (for) our young people, because they are the hope for tomorrow,” he added.