RANDOLPH, NJ - For Randolph’s elementary schools, the week of Oct. 7 was designated as “Respect Week.” Each school came up with unique ways to honor this week. Shongum School celebrated with an exercise they called “Bucket Filling.”

The idea originated from a book written by Carol McCloud entitled, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” Shongum’s newly appointed Principal, Mr. Clifford Burns, sat in front of the entire student body for a school-wide meeting and read the book aloud.  It was also displayed above him on a screen for all to see. The theme was immediately contagious and made a strong impact, according to Dr. Christine Fugger, the school psychologist at Shongum School.

The lesson of the book is that “Everyone carries an invisible bucket that holds our good thoughts and feelings. When our buckets are full, we feel happy, and when our buckets are empty we feel sad. The children quickly understood that they can fill buckets when they do and say things that are kind, considerate, caring and respectful. They learned that when they are mean, inconsiderate, uncaring or disrespectful, they dip into buckets and remove those good feelings.”

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The week began with an actual thumbprint pledge to be respectful to each other. Then the children in every class made a large paper bucket to hang outside of their classrooms. They were given slips to fill out whenever they had thoughtful things to say about a fellow classmate. Each morning the slips were placed on display in their class “bucket” in the hallway. On the last day of Respect Week, each class bucket was tallied in order to identify the winners of the contest.

Two extremely excited classes were tied in this race, with over one hundred bucket filling slips in each one. When the winners were announced over the loud speaker, the students in Mrs. Geiger’s second-grade class and Mrs. McCann and Mrs. Leach’s fourth-grade class screamed, while hugging each other. Each student was awarded with a certificate (see photo).

Dr. Fugger and Ms. Debra Hessels, the school guidance counselor, worked together on the Respect Week activity. According to Fugger, the children were so involved in this activity that many teachers overheard them asking each other “Are you a bucket filler?” They also made up songs about bucket-filling all week. Fugger stated that “Improving school climate is one of the biggest goals for the school year, because when there is a positive school climate there are less disciplinary problems and less bullying.”