R-E-S-P-E-C-T : Miss Tennessee tells students what that character trait means to her
Published 9:45 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Students at three local elementary schools got a special visitor Tuesday as the reigning Miss Tennessee Hayley Lewis stopped by to say hello and brought along some of her friends.
Lewis spoke to students at Happy Valley, Keenburg and Harold McCormick elementary schools as part of her Character Education tour across the state. Accompanying Lewis on her visits were Miss Watauga Valley Elizabeth Painter, Miss Johnson City Kayla Neikirk and Miss Historic Jonesborough Hannah Everhart.
The Character Education program is an initiative of the Tennessee Department of Education that encourages students to develop positive character traits including caring, respect, responsibility and fairness by integrating those ideals into all areas of the school experience. As the reigning Miss Tennessee, Lewis serves as the official spokeswoman for the campaign.
On Tuesday, Lewis spoke to students about respect.
“Respect is the golden rule,” she told students assembled at Happy Valley Elementary. “It means treating others how we want to be treated ourselves.”
The first step to promoting respect, Lewis said, is developing self-respect.
“You have to respect yourself as an individual,” she said. “You need to remember you are worth something.”
Eating well and exercising are key elements to self-respect, Lewis said.
“We can do things we already like to stay healthy, and we can eat things we already like to stay healthy,” she said. “That is how you respect yourself, by staying fit and being active.”
Once you respect yourself, you can then begin to respect others, Lewis said. Respecting others includes respecting their differences, she added.
Lewis asked the students to look around them at all the different people in their school.
Diversity is what makes everyone special and unique, she said.
“Even if we are different than those around us — we may wear different clothes, maybe we believe in different things or like different things — that is OK,” Lewis said.
During her talk, Lewis also touched on an issue that affects many schoolchildren — bullying.
“Being bullied does not make you feel good,” she said. “If you see someone being bullied, they are not being respected. If you are being bullied, you are not being respected.”
“If you want to be respected, you need to make sure those around you are being respected and take a stand against bullying,” Lewis said. “You can be that one person who makes a difference.”
At the end of her talk, Lewis asked the students to take a pledge with her that they would respect themselves, respect others and take a stand against bullying.