Week of Respect: Why Just a Week?

A banner advertising the Week of Respect, created by the New Jersey Department of Education.

A banner advertising the Week of Respect, created by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Robbie Amoia

Respect: a word seen in just about every class syllabus and promoted in schools everywhere.

A couple of weeks ago, Emerson, as well as schools statewide, observed the “Week of Respect”.

But why just a week? If the goal of the Week of Respect aims to leave a lasting impact on students, shouldn’t schools focus on it regularly instead of talking about it for one week then forgetting about it the rest of the year?

Who better to answer that question than our Supervisor of Instruction himself, Mr. Ponchak? When asked about the Week of Respect, he responded,  “The biggest takeaway from the Week of Respect should be that respect is the foundation for success in our school. Everything our students, faculty, families, and community are involved in should revolve around respect.  Without respect for oneself and for others, students will never get the most out of our programming.  Our teachers, coaches, directors, counselors, and advisors strive to create respectful environments for our students so that they can achieve their goals.”

Did you know that the Week of Respect is actually a product of state law? The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was passed in an attempt to promote awareness of bullying, not just in schools, but in any setting. The Act requires that the first full week of October is to be observed as the Week of Respect, prompting schools to take a few days to educate students about the issue of bullying, as well as showing respect for others (and yourself) in general.

The Week of Respect is more prominent at the elementary level, where it’s crucial that students are taught these principles as they are developing. While it is promoted in middle and high school, it’s not necessarily taken as seriously as it is in elementary. Mr. Ponchak also noted, “The importance of respect both being given and received applies to kindergarten students as much as it does to full-grown adults.”

Thankfully, the town of Emerson stays on top when it comes to respect. It hosts a well-educated group of students who know how to treat others. Nobody’s perfect and things do happen, but the administration strives t0 do what is necessary to handle the situation and make sure a lesson is learned.

Although we devote a week to education about respect and bullying, it’s important that students keep these ideas in mind all the time, not just in school but everywhere.