By Melissa McGuire
Last week, many students heard the sounds of R-E-S-P-E-C-T sung by Aretha Franklin as schools celebrated New Jersey’s first “Week of Respect,” mandated by the state’s new anti-bullying law. School climate surveys, acts of kindness, and character education were just a few of the positive programs taking place in the Two-River area.
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
RFH marked the week with special morning announcements by student leaders from school organizations like Peer Leaders, Character Education, Student Ambassadors, and the Gay-Straight Alliance, ending with positive songs highlighting respect. In addition, the entire school was involved with “Respect Receipts,” tickets that students could give to one another to acknowledge respectful acts, and was tallied at the end of the week. A small award was given to the student with the most receipts earned in each grade. While these events marked “Week of Respect,” the School Climate Team will be running events all year long.
Shrewsbury Borough School
The School Safety Team at Shrewsbury Borough School created a theme – “Being a Bucket Filler” – and planned activities and lessons that would maximize the long-term impact of “Week of Respect,” creating a more positive school environment. Each Pre-K-4th grade classroom received the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, with the message of how kind words and deeds fill their imaginary buckets and other peoples buckets too. Eighth grade students read and discussed the story, and assisted the teacher with activities throughout the week. Students who were caught being kind or helpful had their name written on a star and placed in their classroom bucket. Older students recognized for their acts of kindness by teachers or staff put their names on larger “bucket fillers” that were placed outside the principal’s office. Wrapping up the week, the Shrewsbury Parent Teacher Group sponsored a school-wide assembly featuring The Harlem Wizards. In addition to playing basketball with students, they enforced the message of anti-bullying and respecting yourself and others in order to be successful in life.
Maple Place School, Oceanport
Students and staff at Maple Place Middle School kicked off their anti-bullying initiative last month with the establishment of the Friends of Rachel Club. Named in memory of Rachel Scott, a high school student killed in the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, the club encourages students to continue the chain reaction of kindness and compassion that Rachel Scott spoke about in her writings. Students signed a pledge to set positive goals, to follow positive influences, and to remember to show kindness to others.