FH week 2Laraine Gaunt holds up the letter “R” for respect while addressing Sickles School students, as Principal Cheryl Cuddihy looks on.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

During the week of october 5 through 9, Fair Haven schools marked a state-mandated “Week of Respect” with meaningful activities and new initiatives designed to encourage kindness and acceptance.

Sickles School welcomed Laraine Gaunt on Monday for an official kickoff of the new yearlong campaign, “It’s OK 2B Different.” Gaunt, an educator whose grown children had attended Sickles School, helped to create the program. She spoke to students in Pre-Kindergarten through third grade classes about the importance of respect.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” Gaunt told the students. “Be a buddy, not a bully, and you will soon learn everything it takes to be a good friend.”

“It’s OK 2B Different” is based on the premise that teaching young children respect for individuals (even the bully) will promote understanding and tolerance before bias, hate, and prejudice can occur. “The color of love is always the same in the eyes of a child …” is the philosophy behind the program, which received its official start at Sickles School in 1978, when it was written and introduced by the school’s administration, teachers, and parents.

FH week 1Seventh-grader Avery Pawlak reads a book about respect with fourth-grader Matthew Carroll, during “Week of Respect” at Knollwood School.

The yearlong program makes teaching tolerance in elementary schools an essential priority, and includes three sections – “Embracing Differences,”, “Making Friends,” and “Buddies Not Bullies.”

Daily themes at Sickles School during “Week of Respect” (with suggested accompanying wardrobe choices for students and staff) were:

• Monday, “The Choice for Me Is To Be Respectful” – Blue to celebrate World Day of Bullying Prevention

• Tuesday, “Bands of Respect” – Headbands, bandanas, or wristbands

• Wednesday, “Let Respect Sneak into Your Speech!” – Sneakers

• Thursday, “Be a Fan of Respect” – A team jersey or sweatshirt

• Friday, “Living With Respect Is No Sweat” – Sweatshirts, sweatpants, or sweatbands

At Knollwood School, students in fourth through eighth grades participated in activities focused on respect for the environment, community, and one another.

One such activity was “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” on Wednesday, October 7 for sixth through eighth graders. Each student was provided with a strip of colored paper and directed to sit at a  lunch table featuring that color. Through this event, students got to know one another better and made new friends. On Wednesday and Thursday, the school’s Student Leaders visited fourth and fifth grade classrooms to read aloud from books based on the theme of respect.

Knollwood School students and staff commemorated different facets of respect with “theme” days and corresponding wardrobe colors – Monday, Peace (blue); Tuesday, Empathy (orange);  Wednesday, Honesty (yellow); Thursday, Loyalty (purple); Friday, Trust (Green).

Additionally, members of Student Leaders group cleaned up a different area of the school building each day.

The Student Leaders at Knollwood School have begun a Kindness Committee and plan to lead a schoolwide kindness initiative this year. An “Anti-Bullying” assembly for Knollwood School students will also be presented in the coming weeks.