CROSS RIVER, N.Y. John Jay Middle School students C.A.R.E.
In an effort to curtail bullying and gossiping, the school created C.A.R.E. Week -Creating a Respective Environment previously known as No Name Calling Week" - based on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.
Middle school Principal Richard Leprine, along with several of the students, gave a report on C.A.R.E. Week to the board of education at last weeks meeting. They explained how the students explored various ways to demonstrate kindness and show respect for others and participated in activities based on kindness and acceptance.
This is also supported by our curriculum, where we emphasize respectful behavior, Leprine said. The eighth graders are currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird. They are discussing the idea of walking a mile in another person's shoes before passing judgment, as illustrated by the main character Atticus Finch.
The JJMS C.A.R.E. program was initiated by the Climate Committee, a group comprised of faculty members. According to Kelly Mitchell, JJMS counselor, the goal is to have students think about their actions, be aware of the feelings of others, and share small acts of kindness. In other words, adhere to the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.
Student Hana Epstein introduced this years C.A.R.E. week with a morning announcement, briefly describing the programs purpose and linked it to the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. During lunch periods, members of the JJMS SADD organization provided peace buttons, tattoos, key chains that were donated by the JJMS PTO and forms where students were asked to define kindness and describe how they would pass it on.
The descriptions of kindness were displayed on the walls of the cafeteria. Some of them included: Caring for others, Making people happy, Being nice to others, Picking up someone's books in the hallway, Noticing when others are sad, and Respecting parents.
Another activity held during C.A.R.E. week was an introspective Stand-up, Sit-down event, which encouraged students to think about the ways in which gossip and talking behind others backs can be hurtful. Students considered how difficult it can be to stand up for their convictions without worrying about the popularity of these beliefs. At the end of the activity, students were asked how they might remedy situations involving gossip. The idea for this event was sparked by a youth leadership conference that 15 JJMS students attended in December, under the leadership of school social worker Jessica Fulton. During the conference, students from various high schools in the area discussed issues, particularly gossip, that are common behaviors and affect middle school culture.
As C.A.R.E. week continued, students celebrated Peace Day by wearing peace-themed clothing. They also worked together to create posters illustrating the concepts of respect, kindness and non-violence and they discussed what peace means to me. Another highlight to the week was a broadcast of a skit written by SADD members dealing with name-calling and acceptance. The skit was aired on the schools closed circuit television station.
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