Smithfield High School brings back Respect Week

Smithfield High School brings back Respect Week

SMITHFIELD – Students at Smithfield High School received a crash course last week on how to show respect to others and to themselves.

“There is a lot of friction throughout society,” said Principal Ken Hopkins. “We take it as our mission and role as educators to make sure we educate the whole child and make them feel comfortable and equipped to deal with society and teach them how to do so in a respectful way.”

Respect Week took place Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, and consisted of a day of workshops for the students and various guest speaker events throughout the week, said Kristen Barry, the main organizer on a faculty board for the week and teacher at the high school.

The school hosted 30 workshops for students on Respect Day last Tuesday, Nov. 28. Each workshop was led by school faculty or guest speakers. Students attended five 40-minute workshops and an 80-minute workshop, Barry said.

This was the first Respect Day at Smithfield High School in four years. In the past, 100 students congregated in the gymnasium for an interactive lesson on respect. This year’s events were bigger and focused on different topics related to respect, Barry said.

The workshops focused on ways to relieve stress, how to have better mental, physical, and emotional health, and how to be more respectful in general.

Barry said that the two most popular workshops with the students were stress management through art and nutrition. Students notified the faculty on which workshops interested them the most through a Google Forum, she said.

“We tried to place them based on at least one or two that interested them,” she said. “We also figured that we should place the kids in random workshops too. Sometimes the kids that don’t want to go to a workshop, those are the kids that really need to attend them.”

Throughout the week, guest lecturers also visited the high school and spoke with the entire student body. The dean of students at Brown University discussed diversity and inclusion; a representative from the Sandy Hook Promise Group, a nonprofit organization dealing with gun prevention and mental health, discussed kindness and positivity; and a representative from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) discussed mental health awareness.

NAMI hosted three events at the high school, discussing how to identify signs of mental illness, how to positively address mental health and eliminate its stigma, and how to enhance inclusiveness, Hopkins said.

During Respect Week, teachers set up a wall of encouragement in the cafeteria for students to leave notes for other students and faculty to read for inspiration, Barry said.

The wall will help to keep up the awareness of kindness throughout the school, she said. Students were encouraged to pass private notes to their friends, peers and faculty for personal encouragement.

“Even if we reach 10 kids, 20 kids, 30 kids, whatever, that’s more than it was the day before,” she said.

Barry said the week was a big success with the students and she hopes the information they learned throughout the week will resonate with them throughout the school year.

The school plans to host Respect Week again next year, she said.