(October 16th, 2019 -- Jersey City) Explore Middle School combined the first marking period thematic unit, “Identity”, and the Week of Respect activities for a week of celebrating school community.
The Week of Respect kicked off on October 1st for the Explore students and staff as they visited YMCA’s Camp Bernie to participate in trust, communication, and mutual respect activities. The different exercises allowed students and staff to have a greater understanding of themselves, their relationships with others, their shared environments, and their responsibility to respect and nurture one another.
Shortly after the trip, the 8th grade students collaborated with the High Tech High School Peer Leaders to engage in conversation about the programs at High Tech and what it means to be a Peer Leader. The high school students discussed what it means to have a leadership role in their school community, their responsibilities to themselves, the school, and their peers, as well as how to demonstrate respect for your school community.
Later that week, Living Voices visited Explore once again to perform the one man show, “Island of Hope”. The show continued to bridge the gap between the school’s thematic unit, “Identity”, and the Week of Respect. “Island of Hope” follows a family’s escape from oppression in their old country as they sail to a new life in the new world. Students experienced the struggle to escape oppression and face the fears and dreams of hopeful American immigrants. The assembly was followed up with a group discussion on the ties between respect and identity.
The Explore Peer Leaders celebrated World Smile Day, October 5th, by decorating the entrance of the building with positive affirmations and kind words used to make their peers smile. 8th grader, Andrea Gonzalez and 7th grader, Iris Moreno-Cruz spent the day complimenting as many people as they could and handing out stickers to everyone.
Ms. Rand’s Character Education classes created a mural outside of her classroom surrounded by students’ reflections on moments in their life when they showed respect for others.
Ms. Rand explained, “Respect is one of the pillars of character. Each pillar has a color. Respect is gold to remind us of the golden rule “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. It is meant as a reminder to treat people the way you want to be treated. Each student was asked to reflect on and write about an instance where they demonstrated respectful behavior.”
“I went to Puerto Rico this summer, I showed respect by being kind to the people I met. Not being completed familiar with the culture, I made sure not to say or do anything offensive or that would make someone uncomfortable. It was important to me that I was being respectful of people's boundaries,” 7th grader Jordan Frazer reflected.
To conclude the week’s activities, each class will visit the Montclair Art Museum where they will view a collection of art pieces focused on the theme of identity. After viewing the collection, the students will participate in a discussion and art based activity focused on identity and respect.
Throughout the week, mini-lessons and discussions on what it means to have respect for others took place in classes and each day during morning announcements, a famous quote based on respect was shared by 7th grader Aidan Chappas. “My favorite quote I read from the week was one from Jackie Robinson. "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being" . I think it is something we should all try to live by.”