UNSPLASH PHOTO COURTESY OF Bekky Bekks
After an unprecedented virtual celebration the year prior, the Week of Respect returned to the halls of Communications High School, bringing along a renewed sense of community and acceptance among the students and staff. The longstanding CHS tradition serves to strengthen the feelings of inclusivity and kindness already prominent throughout the school.
Principal James Gleason shared his feelings on the culture of respect that has been built in CHS.
“I’m very proud of it and look to continue to work with all of the students to continue something that I think is very unique but also a great learning environment,” Gleason said.
The event was a step towards normality for CHS with each weekday during the week of Oct. 4 representing a different theme. Students began the week by wearing blue, the official color of the Stomp Out Bullying campaign, and concluded it wearing Communications merchandise to show that they are united against bullying.
To spur inclusivity, posters lined the walls encouraging students to perform acts of kindness for others and reflect on the ways they demonstrate respect for those around them. Some of these displays were interactive, such as a poster with an attached wheel that, when spun, gave participants a task, and provided passersby with personalized experiences that urged them to show compassion for others and discuss their feelings in a judgment-free way.
While many welcome the Week of Respect, some students, like sophomore Jordan Denzler of Middletown, feel that the campaign is unneeded in the CHS environment.
“I find the Week of Respect redundant. I haven’t found anyone who’s actively disrespectful and I find that people often are more respectful than the Week of Respect suggests they should be,” Denzler said.
However, school counselor Melanie Sambataro believes that the occasion is necessary to help extend the respect students already share for each other.
“There is never anything wrong with saying we all deserve respect,” Sambataro said. “Sometimes we might forget a little bit and need a reminder but I think for the most part we do a great job and…it’s just something that comes very naturally to CHS.”
Most students agree with this thinking, with both upper and underclassmen sharing similar feelings about Communications’ inclination for respectfulness.
“I feel like everyone is…understanding here and the friend groups aren’t as cliquey as traditional high schools, which makes it a lot more welcoming,” said senior Emma Burnell of Wall Township.
According to its students, the annual Week of Respect provides a welcome reminder that Communications is at its strongest when its community stands together and cares for one another.
“Everybody here is really creative and accepting,” said sophomore Eliza Madore of Atlantic Highlands. “I feel like it’s easy to be yourself here because no matter what, you’re gonna have support.”