It’s a simple act – say hello. It’s certainly a great place to start. And that is why the Sandy Hook Promise began Start With Hello Week from Sept. 23 through 27.
In every school and in every community, there are young people who suffer silently because they feel left out, alone, invisible. Circleville Elementary School participated in Start With Hello Week to teach students to connect with each other and be inclusive.
Social worker Kelly Wallace and school psychologist Shannon Hughes put the week together with events each day.
On Monday morning, students were welcomed to school with positive, encouraging words right there on the sidewalk. Teachers took to the sidewalks and wrote their messages with colorful chalk! As their day began, there were assemblies for all students and staff discussing the Start With Hello project. Everyone wore a name tag throughout the day and was encouraged to say hello to someone they didn’t know.
The message on Tuesday – friends are sometimes found in the most unlikely places. Students in pre-K through grade 2 read the book “Good Friends” while those in grades 3 through 5 read “Unlikely Friends.” Both showed that friends are made sometimes when you least expect it.
Wednesday was a lesson in kindness. Students learned how kindness makes a difference in people’s lives. They wrote on paper hearts how they will be kind.
Thursday was a promise to embrace diversity. The students learned how to say hello in many different languages.
The week ended on Friday with a promise to connect. Many students and staff members wore green, the color representing the Sandy Hook Promise, and took their message outside. There, all 500-plus students and staff members formed the letters spelling HELLO!
It was a fun and engaging week for all involved with a very important message – reach out and help make your fellow students feel included.
Ms. Wallace noted that CES will also start a SAVE club – Students Against Violence Everywhere.
Also a product of Sandy Hook Promise, SAVE is a student-led organization that encourages and empowers the children to take charge of keeping schools safe by teaching, modeling and continually reinforcing the key messages of Start With Hello. Volunteers from grades 3 through 5 will make up the SAVE team and create monthly SAVE activities for the entire student body that promote kindness, inclusiveness and the value of looking out for one another.