FALMOUTH — Hannah Fishman has a passion for inclusivity, while also recognizing the need to honor diversity.

She’ll graduate from Falmouth High School on Sunday, June 2, and plans on majoring in education at Syracuse University.

While she wants to teach, Fishman said her dream job is to become a school administrator, so she can foster a culture of ensuring that “everyone is heard.”

Fishman, who is Jewish, said she has often struggled with her faith and why she’s been bullied for having a different set of beliefs. But now, she said, she owns being Jewish and is proud of her heritage.

During her time at Falmouth High, Fishman has focused on the issues closest to her heart. She’s been an active member of the Civil Rights Team and the Smile Society, which is a student group that focuses on performing small, random acts of kindness.

She’s also a member of the Service Club and is a student ambassador. In addition, Fishman has volunteered in a first grade classroom at Falmouth Elementary School for the past two years, and she’s a Big Buddy.

Through the Big Buddy program, Fishman mentors an elementary school student, spending time with her and just listening to her.

She’s also a volunteer with the Dream Dancers, a student group that introduces dancing to students who have special needs.

Fishman has also participated on the swim team throughout high school, and played field hockey until she suffered a significant back injury this year.

She managed the field hockey team though, and got through the swim season before having surgery. During her recuperation Fishman missed two weeks of school, which she said was hard, especially with graduation closing in.

Fishman has also been a student representative on the School Department’s new Intercultural Awareness & Inclusion Committee.

But one of the things she said she’s most proud of accomplishing is creating a new youth group for Jewish students in Falmouth.

Called Mishpachah, which roughly means family or a close-knit social unit, Fishman created the group as part of her required senior project.

She went to Israel two years ago and has also regularly attended Camp Tel Noar, a Jewish summer camp in Hampstead, New Hampshire, where she’ll be a camp counselor this summer.

What Fishman learned from these experiences, she said, is just how important it is to have a community of people who understand you.

“I just think it’s so important to connect with other Jewish youth,” she said. “Being able to do that has really helped me thrive.” She said what’s difficult is that Jewish families are “such a minority, especially in Falmouth.”

Fishman has hosted all the Mishpachah meetings at her own home and said that while she’s “very proud of being Jewish, that wasn’t always the case.” Now, though, she said, she’s confident about her faith and beliefs.

She said Mishpachah meetings have included a traditional Hanukkah meal and discussions about Judaism. The group also talked about the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October.

But what’s been the most important, she said, is just creating connections, supporting each other and becoming friends.

Fishman’s hope is that her younger sister, a sophomore at Falmouth High School, will carry on the group after she graduates.

Insights she’s shared with the Intercultural Awareness & Inclusion Committee, Fishman said, include allowing students of different faiths to celebrate their holy days without being punished for missing a game or a test.

In particular, she said, Jewish students should be exempted from taking part in school activities during Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holidays.

Fishman said it would also be great if the School Department would include such holidays on the school calendar. Just noting that these special events are happening can start a conversation and lead to a better understanding, she said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Hannah Fishman will graduate from Falmouth High School on Sunday, June 2. She’ll attend Syracuse University, with plans to study education.


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