On Friday, Oct. 9, Maplewood Middle School (MMS) held the “Respect Walk” as part of the final day of their Week of Respect. According to MMS principal Dana Gronau, “The Week of Respect offers us an important reminder to take the time to learn about one another, connect with one another, and support one another. The week of respect walk was a visual representation of these beliefs.”
The event took place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and was attended by MMS faculty, students and some families. The walk commenced in front of MMS and continued onto Baker Street, then to Maplewood Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Dunnell Road, back to Baker Street, and concluded at MMS.
Other MMS Staff present included Asst. Principal Louis Brown, Asst. Principal Russell King, , 6th grade school counselor Kevin Philemon, STEM teacher Mary Alice Zavocki, School Nurse Hilary Conway, ISTEP Social Worker Amy Pitucco. HSA co-president Veronica Olazabal attended the event with her daughter.
Participants were escorted by the Maplewood Police Department, which consisted of officers on bikes in order to help with street crossings and make sure participants stayed on the sidewalks. Maintaining social distance protocol, such as keeping six feet apart and wearing a mask, was also heavily encouraged.
“We really enjoyed seeing our kids in a socially distant and safe way. Everyone wore masks and followed social distance expectations,” said Gronau. “It was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to see community members waving at us along the way. We appreciate the Maplewood Police for escorting us and helping us to stay safe as we walked on the route.”
The Week of Respect was organized by Eric Stoudemire, a school social worker and anti-bullying specialist at MMS. He kicked off the walk by explaining its purpose to all of the participants: to show unity, accept differences, and show moral support during a difficult climate.
“I love bringing positive energy and unique ideas to my families and students, and I thought that having a positive show of unity on the final day of Week of Respect was a great way to end the week on a positive note,” Stoudemire later said. “It was wonderful to see many different people from all aspects of life walking together on a beautiful day in solidarity.”