Monday, October 7th through Friday, October 11th marked New Jersey schools’ annual “Week of Respect.” This recognition was mandated in the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, but it has grown here in Chatham to encompass not only anti-bullying measures but also student wellness, which CHS sees as a key factor in developing a healthy and supportive school community.
This year, CHS selected “Gratitude” as a focus for the Week of Respect, given important research that links gratitude practices to better mental health.
During the Week of Respect this month at CHS, the students were given a Gratitude Challenge. Each day, students were provided inspirational messages and videos on different themes such as the importance of practicing gratitude, kindness and acceptance, and accentuating the positive.
In the lobby of the high school, students and faculty were seen writing out post-it notes and hanging them on the Gratitude Wall. Ninth grade Student Council representatives successfully took on the task of marketing the Wall throughout the week. Gratitude mason jars were distributed to staff members for their classrooms and for students to anonymously share their own messages of gratitude throughout the week. The Chatham Education Association also provided CHS with CEA post-it notes for all of the message jars.
In the Rest and Relaxation Room, a space for students to enjoy at lunch, hosted several events during the Week of Respect, including healthy acai bowls donated by Ariel Cassidy, the owner of the Juice House in New Providence. Additionally, Mr. Terrence Ferguson, a beloved CHS teacher, turned the Rest and Relaxation Room into a mini coffee house with his musical performances. The Rest and Relaxation Room’s furniture and supplies are funded by a generous grant from the Chatham Education Foundation, which recognizes student wellbeing as one of their focus areas for funding.
Later in the week, the focus was on self-care. CHS counselors offered an essential oil workshop during lunch and showed simple recipes students could use to make their own stress relief and energy booster roller balls. Additionally, in the ninth grade health classrooms, students created messages about kindness and hung them throughout the hallways.
CHS counselor Andrea Murphy said, “Our hope with the Challenge was to increase student's awareness of the positive things, emotions, and people in one's life, and thus cultivate the connection to positive social relationships and emotional benefits.”
CHS hopes to continue to promote and cultivate grateful thinking in students and witness the positive emotions that can follow.