In 2011, the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was created, which expanded on the original anti-bullying law created in 2002. One of the requirements is that every year, the first week of October is the Week of Respect. The Week of Respect was created to highlight the importance of kindness and promote awareness of how bullying impacts the community.
To kick off the Week of Respect, rainbow ribbons were passed out in the main lobby, so students and staff could show their support for diversity in Chatham High School. Additionally, in the freshman gym classes, students came up with five different ways they could respect others and then wrote them down on paper chains, which can be seen hanging in the hallway outside the C gym. On Tuesday, a workshop was held in the Rest and Relaxation Room (Room 114) during lunch to teach students how to deal with stress. The purpose of this was to give students a better understanding of how to appropriately manage their stress. Sweatpants and sweatshirts were seen all around the school on Wednesday because “Respect is No Sweat.” The R&R Room was open again during lunch for live music. On Thursday, students had the opportunity to make their own essential oil roller ball. We had the chance to speak to Ms. Lattarulo and Ms. Murphy, who run the R&R Room.
What impact do you think the Week of Respect has on students?
The Week of Respect is a great reminder to both students and staff on how to treat one another with respect and kindness. These reminders have a powerful impact through students writing about gratitude and respect in English class, writing messages about respect and kindness in Health, and encouraging acceptance of people from all backgrounds.
How do you think teaching students ways to manage their stress can affect them?
There is tremendous evidence of the importance of teaching students self-care and how to regulate stressful emotions and overall well being. If students can identify, manage, and alleviate their own stress by learning different coping skills, they can embrace being imperfect and work through them with support. Life can give any of us different detours and challenges and if you can learn to manage stress, you decrease burnout and stress-related illness.
While the R&R Room had special activities for the Week of Respect, are there other times when it is open to students?
The R&R room is open during lunch on Tuesday-Thursday in order for students to find a quiet place to relax and reflect during their school day.
To finish up the week, flyers with “free compliments” were hung up around the school. Much like flyers with tear-off tabs found on street posts, students and staff could take a strip from the bottom of the paper, which had thoughtful compliments, such as “You look really nice today” or “You are beautiful.”
Chatham High School’s Week of Respect activities differ from other schools throughout New Jersey. Madison High School had many different activities, which included a pajama day, a spirit wear day, and “Mix-It-Up at Lunch” day, where students’ lunch tables were “mixed” up. This allowed them to communicate with students they may not have spoken to before. Different schools have unique approaches to the Week of Respect, yet we all come together to support the same message of respect.