I went to an antique of an elementary school; it was a small brick building in the middle of a bustling college town. My school was the smallest of the multiple elementary schools in the district, but it had roots dating back nearly a century, and it had once been the ascendant high school in the district. Despite its charm, it closed at the conclusion of my fifth grade year and I can remember the melancholy felt by all on that last day of school. I remember being dismissed then walking down the stairs I had taken everyday for nearly 6 years, and left the school for the last time. My principal had tears in her eyes watching us go, and I have always recalled her sentiments before we left that day.
I had known my elementary school principal as more than a principal, she was an affable woman who also my friend and teacher. From her lips came bits of wisdom that grew upon us as we grew up under her gaze; the most famous of her sayings simply being “it all comes down to respect.” The last day of school, she addressed us all and she spoke of that very thing, respect. She spoke of the respect she had for the old crusty walls, for the creaky wooden floors, for the anthropomorphous oak tree on the playground, for the uneven doorways, and most of all, she spoke of the respect she had for every individual who had ever walked into Fairmount Elementary. She told us all to respect all of those around us, for we all are people who live and interact with each other, and it is those around us that will shape our future.
It was after I had moved on to middle school and even high school that I truly realized the significance of her words. I saw the typical politics of teenagers, the cliques, the discrimination, bullying, friendship camaraderie, clubs, teams, etc, etc. And through all of that, I’ve made it a point to be respectful. We all see the people who are just unable to appellate to society; who are the social lepers in a sense, but just showing any amount of decency towards them can make a bad situation that much better. I make sure to treat everyone equally and with respect. Really that’s all anyone wants—to be treated equally and to be respected. I’m not setting out to try to make the world a better place, but just showing a little respect can truly make a difference.
So I believe in respect. I believe that we are all in this world together, we have to live with each other, breathe the same air, drive on the same roads, eat at the same restaurants, and the least we can do is show a little respect.
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