Middle school combats violence with smiles

Students at a Sunset District school were encouraged to smile at each other all day, as part of "Respect Week."

January 20, 2011 6:58:43 PM PST
Today's sunny weather is putting many San Franciscans in a good mood, but the cheeriest group of all may be students at a Sunset District middle school where "Smile Day" is under way.

As part of the San Francisco Unified School District's "Respect Week," students at A.P. Giannini Middle School are being asked to show off their pearly whites.

"The reason 'Smile Day' is important is because people seem approachable and friendly, and it's much easier to get along when someone appears friendly," district spokeswoman Heidi Anderson said.

Throughout the day, undercover "smile spies" will be in the hallways watching for grins and surprising students with "I got caught smiling" stickers, Anderson said.

At lunchtime, students will examine close-up photos of the mouths of various teachers and staff members, trying to guess their identities from their smiles. Those who guess correctly get a prize, Anderson said.

Respect Week, which coincided with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is part of Violence Prevention Month, in which the district focuses on topics including tolerance, conflict resolution and bullying prevention.