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James I. Dawson students pose for a picture with Superintendent Casey Wardynski after receiving their "No Place For Hate" banner Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. (Amethyst Holmes/aholmes@al.com)

-- James I. Dawson Elementary teachers held a ceremony to honor their students in helping the school achieve its new "No Place For Hate" designation this afternoon in the school cafeteria.

No Place For Hate, a national initiative led by the Anti-Defamation League, seeks to create better educational environments by ridding schools of discrimination, bullying, bigotry and hatred.

Dawson Elementary is the first elementary school in the district to receive the distinction. Superintendent Casey Wardynski was in attendance to present the school with a banner from ADL's regional office in Atlanta.

"One of the things that we had to learn to do was help them understand we're all different and when we come together we work best together," guidance counselor Danesia Dixon said detailing activities where students were tasked with imagining a world without bullying and held each other's hands while they "hugged" the school.

Dixon says the students have been very receptive to the tolerance-driven, anti-bullying environment they had a huge hand in creating.

"They feel comfortable to come and tell if someone is being bullied. You come and tell us and we'll take care of it. They're very comfortable now with talking about it."

Click for more information on ADL's campaign and a list of area schools joining in the initiative.

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