MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Students who largely hadn’t seen each other in person for more than six months gathered on Friday to walk for the value of respect. 

Maplewood Middle School held the walk, a community email said, to “walk in unity, with social distancing as a priority…to show a unified effort of togetherness with respect as the common thread.”

Vice Principal Russell King told TAPinto SOMA the School Anti-Bullying Specialist Eric Stoudemire and his interns put the event together to cap a week of learning about respecting others. “It’s a really good gathering. We get to see the students really for the first time, get to see some faces, have some teachers and guidance counselors here with beautiful weather,” King said. 

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The route wound along Maplewood Avenue, down Jefferson and back toward MMS on Dunnell. More than 50 students participated. Everyone walking was masked but keeping a true six feet apart seemed a tough ask when kids were meeting in person again after a long time apart. 

Abe, 11, came out “because I wanted to support the Week of Respect and I wanted to see my friends.”

Jeremy, 11, said it’s been “a very long time” since he’s seen most of the other students on the walk. 

Mariela, 12, said she was walking “to show a sign of respect. I’m out here to show that everybody is a unique person.” During the Week of Respect, she said discussion included respecting teachers “because they work so hard.”



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