Clinton Elementary 5th-Graders ‘Chalk Up’ First Day of Respect Week With Walk to CHS

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Dozens of Clinton Elementary School fifth-graders kicked off the Week of Respect with a walk to Columbia High School where they immediately wrote motivational, esteem-building messages on the front sidewalk – with the help of some mentoring high school students.

“This has been a tradition since 2011,” said Matthew Endlich, a member of the CHS Child Study Team. “Your grade and your school have been coming here for a long time to meet with high school students and chalk it up.”

“Can anyone tell us what respect means to them?” asked Dorota Martinez, a CHS Student Assistant Coordinator. Hands sprung up from the fifth-grade crowd.

“To care about others,” a boy said.

“Treating other people the way you want to be treated,” a girl said.

“What do we say every day at Clinton?” asked Clinton Elementary School Principal Melissa Butler.

A number of students said aloud, without hesitation, “Always be kind to one another.”

Students and staff from Clinton Elementary School and Columbia High School pose together after creating positive, motivational chalk messages on the sidewalk.

Soon, the students were hard at work using their best chalk-wielding skills to create positive messages like, “You’re awesome,” “Don’t hate. Create,” “Love Yourself,” and the Gen-Z favorite, “Slay” – meaning, perform exceptionally well at something in a way that only you can achieve.

Endlich said that he and Clinton Social Worker Lindy Rollo (now retired) began the tradition of Clinton fifth-graders walking to CHS and creating chalk art after New Jersey’s original anti-bullying legislation was passed. That same legislation designated the week beginning with the first Monday in October as the Week of Respect.

Today, Endlich partners with Martinez as the CHS anti-bully specialist, as well as Arelis Tapia, who has been working as Clinton Elementary School’s social worker for the past six years, in holding the event. Tapia serves as Clinton Elementary School’s anti-bully specialist.

Endlich said the activity has as much value today as it did when it first started.

“It gets the younger students to meet with the high school students, in a peer-mentoring opportunity,” Endlich said. “They talk about respect and what it means to them, and they have fun.”

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