From October 3rd through 7th the Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School community participated in Respect Week, a new New Jersey state initiative instituted to promote the awareness and prevention of bullying. All public schools are required to incorporate specific activities to develop awareness during this week, and RFH’s School Climate Team worked together to creatively endorse respect among the faculty, staff, and students.
The Climate Team decided to work with a ticket-bartering system. Each student was given 5 Respect Tickets to reward other students for exceptional acts of respect. They would equally receive tickets for their own actions. At the end of the week, the most respectful student in each grade level won a prize.
When creating the idea for the ticket-exchange system, the School Climate Team knew that their idea might be perceived as juvenile. “This may be an activity you would see in more of a middle-school setting, but the goal in mind is to just get that one student to commit to being respectful, and cause a chain reaction for others to follow,” stated Ms. Camp, a guidance counselor and member of the School Climate Team here at RFH.
For many, bullying can be a rather confusing and emotional topic. Ms. Camp also expressed much concern as to why anyone would ever want to bully. She mentioned how once you were bullied as a child, you are more than likely to become the bully. It’s a learned topic, brought up by those at home and those around us in our school community. This is the main reason why all members of the RFH community are participating, including the faculty and staff.
The staff set a major example to students in and outside of school. In order to help promote awareness, they too exchanged tickets amongst themselves for respect. In order to differentiate between teacher tickets, as well as between student grade levels, the tickets were different colors.
Abby Cooner, Respect Week’s student voice and representative for Peer Leadership, shared that the different colored tickets are to demonstrate the interaction between grade levels. All grades at RFH need to learn to work together on this act, because it won’t last just this week.
Throughout the year, the school community plans to more action outside of this respect week. To help carry out these respectful deeds, Ms. Camp mentioned several in-school activities such as bringing back the “I got Dawg’d” campaign, nominating a student of the quarter, having Quotes of the Day on the morning announcements, and hanging posters of BULLDAWG acronyms in the cafeteria. Also, there was a Mix it Up Day at lunch, and there will be a Day of Silence and an Art Day to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. All activities throughout the year will reinforce this main idea of support and respect.
“We have all been in a situation [in which someone is being bullied] and you just don’t know what to say, and it does feel uncomfortable,” said Ms. Camp. “It is so important for all teachers to be models in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and to be models for their students to stand up for their peers.”