Pass on the Respect


R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Easy to sing, but is it easy to spread? That’s what Pascack Hills went out to prove last month, during the annual Week of Respect.

In the month of October, every school in the state of New Jersey is required to put aside a week dedicated to spreading respect throughout the community. During “Respect Week,” schools focus on preventing HIB (harassment, intimidation, and bullying), and plan activities and events that promote a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. The state’s anti-bullying law is considered the toughest in the country. New Jersey had previously recommended schools having anti-bullying policies, but now law requires it.

Respect Week at Hills took place from October 6-10. Every morning started off with a teacher giving the student body a few words on respect during the announcements, whether it was a story, a poem, or even a song. Throughout the week, different activities ensued, including a program led by the peer leaders for freshmen, a mass of hundreds of Post-Its with uplifting quotes put up around the school, and bracelets of “RESPECT” passed around the student body. Needless to say, it was a great week for everyone.

“Having a respect week at school is such a good idea,” a current freshman says. “I really liked all the Post-Its; they were so cool. After this Respect Week, I realize that it shouldn’t be something we just do once a year. Respect should be something we see every day.”

The idea certainly got to everyone in the school. Hills ended the special week on October 15th with a “White Out Bullying” day and a presentation by an organization called Rachel’s Challenge. This organization goes around to different schools in the country, and is dedicated to creating safe and connected school environments where learning and teaching are maximized. Their empowering and motivating presentations are based off the life and writing of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine tragedy in 1999. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, along with the faculty and a few select seniors, had the privilege of attending the presentation. Many left with tears in their eyes, and all with a life lesson. After the event, a group of student captains and leaders stayed behind to chat with the speaker and come up with a way to further encourage promote friendliness throughout the school.

“After seeing the presentation on Rachel, I felt different. Everyone in this school should aspire to be like her,” says an underclassman. “She was nice to everyone. If she alone started this chain reaction of kindness, imagine what our whole school could do together.”