(October 14th, 2020 -- Jersey City)
Despite the challenges of a hybrid school schedule, the Explore Middle School Peer Leaders led a week-long celebration of the National Week of Respect from October 5th to the 8th.
Each day, students and staff were encouraged different colors in recognition of the Pillars of Character: blue for trustworthiness, yellow for respect, green for responsibility, orange for fairness, red for caring, and purple for citizenship.
The Peer Leaders created drawings, both by hand and digitally, as well as collages, that demonstrate respect as well as the other Pillars of Character. They also submitted videos and audio of themselves explaining what respect means to them and the significance of the Golden Rule: ‘Treat others the way you would like to be treated’,” Peer Leadership advisor, Ms. Frances Bermas explained.
The Peer Leaders’ work was shared on Explore’s social media pages and school-wide Google Classroom so that both hybrid and virtual students had the opportunity to view it. Each day, the morning announcements, which included famous quotes about respecting others, were also shared for all students, parents, and community members to see.
“Ms. Bermas and myself are very proud of all the wonderful Peer Leaders we have this school year. They have shown that they truly care about their school and fellow peers by providing the 6th graders with welcoming wishes as well as teaching their fellow classmates about the importance of respecting others. The Peer Leaders hope to provide comfort and unity throughout this school year by being role models and continuing to help foster the family environment that Explore Middle School possesses. We cannot wait to see the amazing work they will continue to do,” Peer Leadership advisor, Ms. Angela Cirillo.
Principal Allyson Krone was also proud of the dedication the Peer Leaders had for the week. “One of my favorite activities during the Week of Respect was when we shared with the 6th graders the welcome videos from the Peer Leaders. Explore's 7th and 8th Grade Peer Leaders not only welcomed our new students to the wolfpack, virtually, but also spoke about how we care for and respect one another.”
Throughout the week, mini-lessons and discussions on what it means to have respect for others took place in classes. Ms. Franco and her 8th grade English language arts students discussed the topic of respecting the individual identities of all people. The students read short autobiographical stories that detailed the experiences of young men and women learning how to respect and embrace different cultures while still honoring their own.
After the week of discussing the material and topic, 8th grader, Mikail Oflaz concluded, “Identity makes us who we are, and we shouldn’t try to escape it or be forced to. This is why we must. respect everyone by caring for them, treating them fairly, and allowing them to trust us regardless of our differences. No one should be made to feel like they can’t be their authentic selves.”