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Hillside Starts with Hello

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Left: The lockers represent “Handwritten Hellos”: Each student received at least one post-it note from another student with something kind/encouraging written on it. Even some of the teachers got into it!
Center: Music teacher Sung Hyuk Park found a fun way to say "hello" on everyone wear green/No One Eats Alone Day.
Right: The poster was made by a 5th grade student, Nicola Cooperman. She was inspired to make it after an assembly which introduced the concept of Start with Hello Week.

At left, some of the “conversation starters” left on each table while, at right, two boys get to know each other.

The week of Feb. 6, Hillside School took part in Start with Hello Week, an initiative started through the Sandy Hook Promise organization. The week is dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of social isolation.

Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible. It is a growing epidemic in the United States and within our schools. Excessive feelings of isolation can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior. In fact, one study reports that chronic loneliness increases our risk of an early death by 14%. Furthermore, young people who are isolated can become victims of bullying, violence and/or depression. As a result, many further pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development and/or choose to hurt themselves or others.

Each day during the week, Hillside School highlighted this theme by starting the day with a message about the power of “Hello.” Students also engaged in activities that help to empower them in creating a culture of inclusion and connectedness.

On Friday, the school ended the week by asking everyone to wear green as they celebrated “No One Eats Alone Day.” Through the use of icebreakers/conversation starters on each table, students were encouraged to sit with and get to know people they don’t usually eat lunch with. Student volunteers and staff helped lead conversations to help students to get to know their peers a little better. 

“Overall it was a great week!” exclaimed Hillside Student Assistance Counselor Sabra Scott. “I think the best thing a student said to me was ‘I can't believe I'm sitting at a table with all of my friends…my old friends and my friends I never met before’.”

Below: Girls who don’t normally sit together gathered at the table with the sign “I have been to Niagara Falls” because they shared that fun fact in common.

Updated: 2/17/2017