Respecting tradition with Respect Week

Left to right: Kylee Rench, Anna Ricci, Beth Lauer, Colton Hudspeth, Alison Bowden, and Marley Mackin are six of the students who organized Respect Week.

Kimaia Gassner

Left to right: Kylee Rench, Anna Ricci, Beth Lauer, Colton Hudspeth, Alison Bowden, and Marley Mackin are six of the students who organized Respect Week.

In the sometimes overwhelming world of high school, it is important to build a safe community of mutual respect and kindness where all people feel at home. From your best friend to the janitor you pass in the hall every day on your way to lunch, every person you come across deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion. 

With this in mind, Beaverton student Celia Boyer and a team of leadership students organized a week dedicated to respect, which challenged students and staff to evaluate their relationships with their peers and to define what it means to be respectful to others and to themselves.

Respect Week took place from November 16th to 20th and featured four themed days emphasizing different aspects of respect. Each day featured a lunch activity geared toward the lesson of the day and decorations or posters around the school.

Day one, titled “Respect Yourself,” focused on promoting self-confidence, positivity, and kindness. Compliment-covered sticky notes blanketed the walls of Beaverton, and the science and math hallway was covered in colorful compliment posters. Along with the sticky notes and posters around the school, students participated in an activity called “Throw Out the Self Doubt,” where each person wrote down an insecurity, ripped up the paper, and threw it in the trash.

“I was really excited about promoting self-love and empowerment…I think that a lot of high schoolers struggle with loving themselves even more than loving others because [high school] can be such a hard time in people’s lives,” said Marley Mackin, one of two students involved with organizing the day.

An aspect of high school culture that can sometimes be overlooked is social media. The second day, “Respect over Social Media,” called students to reflect on the impact of their actions on social media. Those in charge of the day decided to make it a mix-it-up day at lunch, where students were randomly assigned tables to sit with a new group of friends. To increase the impact of this activity, a social campaign was created.

“The social media campaign [was made to] promote positive behavior and being kind to others. Students are going to get a selfie with someone that they sit with at lunch to post on social media, encouraging people to get to know each other a bit better,” said junior Kylee Rench, the student in charge of organizing this day.

Day three shifted the focus from oneself to peers, community, and environment. Quotes from celebrities and respected individuals decorated the halls on “Respect Others” day, accompanied by an activity where students made a mural of the names of those who they respect in their everyday lives to reinforce the idea that all people deserve respect.

“We need to realize that every person is human just like us, and, like the golden rule says, we should treat others the way that we want to be treated ourselves,” said senior Alison Bowden. “If you want to be respected and have the courtesy of having others listen to you, then you need to do those same things for them.”

The final day, called “See Something, Say Something,” encouraged students to step in when they see disrespectful behavior. Posters with hotline numbers for depression, suicide, and bullying were hung around the school and in bathrooms to encourage people to seek help if they are in need, and “It’s okay” statements were posted in the halls.

“I think that people seeing these posters that say things like ‘It’s okay to not be perfect’ and ‘It’s okay to step in’ will help them start to realize that respecting ourselves and other people is more important than worrying about what our friends might think about us or what we do,” said Beth Lauer, one of the organizers of the day’s activities.