“What is dignity?” Superintendent Brian Bailey asked Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk eighth-graders as the students and teachers of RCS Middle School gathered on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Bailey had an important message about pride, understanding and respect; and encouraged students to have self-respect, respect for others and respect for their community, treating each with dignity.
“You all own this community and have a stake in it,” Bailey said. “Sometimes people try to steal our dignity… that’s not OK.”
Bailey affirmed that everyone has the right to dignity and that each child and adult in the school is responsible for ensuring that each person’s dignity is being respected by showing empathy and embracing differences. Students were then asked to take a moment and point to an adult whom they felt they can confide in. After seeing fingers pointed in each direction, at various teachers and staff in the room, Bailey emphasized that all of the adults in the school will support students and treat them with dignity.
“Every person in this room deserves a champion,” Bailey said. “You must have a trusted adult in this building, because when someone tries to steal your dignity, you have to be able to tell an adult that, that’s happened.”
He cautioned that those same adults will hold students accountable if they fail to treat others with dignity.
“They are going to step in and stop you from doing that because you have no right to try to take someone else’s dignity,” Bailey said.
He also spoke about social media and the effect that it can have on the lives of students.
“You have a voice that you share through social media – choose your words carefully,” Bailey advised. “Everything you do online is permanent. For ever and ever. Your voice matters… we expect great things.”