Spread the Word events capture hearts, imaginations of participating schools

posted Mon, Mar 16, 2015 by Jon Buzby

William Penn junior Mercedez Robinson signs the Spread the Word to End the Word banner to pledge her support. The school used the annual event to kick off its Kindness Campaign.

The entire William Penn cafeteria staff showed its support by once again purchasing Respect T-shirts to wear throughout the day.

Leo Huot and his Unified partner, Kylie Moorman, hold a check to be presented to SODE after the school sold more than 2,000 glow bracelets.

Smyrna High School students pose with their school's Special Olympics athletes, who show off their medals won at a recent basketball skills competition that the school hosted.

NEW CASTLE - It didn't take long while walking the hallways of William Penn High School on March 16 to figure out something was going on beyond the traditional school day.

"It's the kickoff of our Kindness Campaign," Special Olympics Project Unify coordinator Patty Buzby said.

Junior Dominque Spencer's voice echoed through the hallways during the morning announcements: "No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted" was the message to jump start the Kindness Campaign.

Students, teachers and staff were decked out in the same light blue "Respect" shirts sold to more than 8,000 people across the state as a way to represent their commitment to respect everyone regardless of ability. Students stopped by to sign a banner during lunch periods in both cafeterias.

"We should be doing a lot for students in our integration program," said Spencer, who is the president of Penn's Special Olympics Project Unify club and oversaw the banner signging in the lower cafeteria. "There's definitely going to be a huge difference in people's respect and kindess throughout this school when I'm finished with all that I want to do."

The official Spread the Word to End the R-Word campaign day was March 4, but because of weather-relatedl closures the day before and days afterward, many schools instead chose to push their events back to ensure maximum participation.

On March 13 at Banneker Elementary in Milford, students were treated to a laser light show that encouraged respect and talking about anti-bullying. Students and staff sold glow bracelets and surprised Special Olympics with a check for more than $584.20 as a result of their efforts.

"We sold more than 2,000," announced Laurie Moorman, who oversees the Special Olympics Unified Sports program and has seen firsthand the difference bringing everyone together on the same team can make. "We were overwhelmed by the efforts of the entire school."

Smyrna High School also held its Spread the Word festivities on March 13 and Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn used the first of two assemblies as a platform to talk about his second annual anti-bullying report.

The Student Council at Sussex Central High School sponsored the school's banner signing, only with a twist. Members are encouraging every day to be Respect Day.

"Today is really just a date on the calendar -- the Respect Day," student council president Charlie Megginson told the Sussex County Post. "Every day is Respect Day at Sussex Central High School, so it's kind of getting the message out."

Similar banner signings, assemblies and other unique versions of the Spread the Word campaign were held at schools throughout the state. Bush Early Education Center proved no age is too young to start teaching children about respect as staff and students from Bush EEC and Hanby Elementary donned their Respect shirts while participating in an obstacle course fitness activity.

Photos from several of the events can be viewed here and be sure to check back as more will be added.