From Oct. 7 to Oct. 11, Week of Respect will run throughout the Haddonfield School District with a number of activities and events planned for each school.
District Anti-Bullying Coordinator Dan Dortone explained that the purpose of the week is to ensure themes such as being globally responsible and civically minded resonate throughout the school year.
School clubs No Place for Hate, headed by Dean of Students Tracy Matozzo, and Friends of Rachel, headed by Dortone, are both planning to promote these themes through two actives that will be held in the school cafeteria throughout the week.
No Place for Hate will be encouraging students to sign a pledge of respect, promoting a proactive approach against bullying.
“If they hear anything or see anything, they are not just being a bystander,” Dortone said.
Dortone added that the idea of being proactive has been promoted around the school for several years now.
FOR will also be hosting its own activity, encouraging students and faculty to write positive and uplifting messages directed at both students and staff on strips of paper that will be folded into links for a “kindness chain.” Dortone said the hope is that the chain links will continue on as the school year progresses. With just a few links together now, Dortone expects the chain to reach down the school hallway following Week of Respect.
Dortone explained that although both No Place for Hate and FOR are considered two separate clubs, both he and Matozzo work closely together on the Kindness Campaign and that the clubs are as good as one at this point.
“The clubs have a very similar mission, so we combined them,” Dortone said.
Dortone said, in going forward with the environmental club’s composting initiative the school is also looking to tie in a day of respecting the Earth, in which the students will wear a green article of clothing.
“In a lot of schools, it’s tough to have everything resonate,” Dortone said. “But our student body is pretty united in the idea of trying to make this a better place for everybody,”
He said that almost every day he walks into the school he sees a ribbon drive or bake sale, raising money for causes, such as epilepsy and victims of Sandy Hook.
With their own cause, the environmental club kicked-off its composting program just recently after spending a week educating the student body and staff on which bins correspond to which type of recycling, such as what is classified as compost and recyclables.
In addition to the Week of Respect, the school will also be hosting a School Violence Awareness Week, which was just recently mandated by the state, although it has been nationally observed since 2003, roughly around the same time the Week of Respect was started.
However, Dortone explained that, unlike Week of Respect, which is focused more on activities and events, School Violence Awareness Week would be built into faculty lesson plans.
Carrying on the theme throughout the school year, Dortone said he is looking to do another event similar to Rachel’s Challenge from last year.
“We’re going to see what our options are at this point,” Dortone said.
He explained that he is currently looking into resources provided by the Camden County Prosecutor’s office to see what can be incorporated into the school year.