If you were wondering what r-e-s-p-e-c-t means to Brick school officials, it means more than just a song – and far more than just one week of activities.
But "respect" is the prime focus this week in township schools, as students in all age groups, district-wide, are participating in a number of activities that are aimed at increasing respect, friendship and well-being among students and staff.
The "Week of Respect" will be going on statewide all month, as school districts across New Jersey choose one week in October to dedicate towards respecting others and rooting out bullying. It's part of the state's new anti-bullying law which went into effect when school began last month.
"It was an easy transition," Assistant Superintendent Patricia Lorusso said of implementing the new law, including the Week of Respect, in Brick. "We've been doing character education programs forever in the district."
Wednesday will be the biggest day of the Week of Respect in Brick, as students across all schools have been encouraged to wear yellow clothes. Yellow represents respect in the "six pillars of character," a centerpiece of the district's character education curriculum. School cafeterias will participate as well, serving up yellow foods, such as corn muffins and yellow colored Jell-O. At 1 p.m., students across the entire district will recite a poem (included at the end of this article) focusing on respect and treating others well.
"All the staff members are being asked to embed different aspects of respect in their daily lessons," Lorusso said.
Each school has planned their own activities and assemblies this week, said Earl Mosley, the district's anti-bullying coordinator. Elementary School has handed out yellow-themed stickers and all students are reading a story about bullying. At , students will end the week with "New Friend Friday," where they will be encouraged to have lunch with another student they do not know. At Osbornville Elementary School, there will be a program on the Holocaust.
"Respect has been embedded across the curriculum," Mosley said. "We find a lot of schools have already been doing this as part of the curriculum, so that really helps out."
The Brick district has been honored for its character education program in the past. Last year, was named a .
Poem for Brick's "Week of Respect"
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Your character is defined by what you do, not by what you say or believe.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Every choice you make helps define the kind of person you are choosing to be.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Good character requires doing the right thing, even when it is costly or risky.
Watch your actions, they become character.
What you do matters, and one person can make a big difference.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.