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Congratulations to the 2020 Start With Hello Week School Award Winners!

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Join us in honoring eight schools from across the country. Each winner receives a $250 stipend and national recognition due to their outstanding Start With Hello Week participation, student leadership, and enthusiasm!

Start With Hello Week celebrates the amazing work of educators, students, and community members in building socially inclusive learning environments for all students. In addition, Start With Hello Week raises awareness about social isolation and educates students on how to prevent it through Start With Hello training, activities, public proclamations, media events, student contests, and school awards.

Sandy Hook Promise extends our deepest gratitude to the students, educators, and administrators. They worked in virtual, in-person, and hybrid school environments to launch creative activities, therefore allowing students and trusted adults to connect and help one another during this time.

View the inspiring videos, images, and social posts from the award winners below!

Elementary Schools

Elkins Elementary School, Fort Worth, Texas

The Elks launched many acts of kindness for Start With Hello Week, including positive sticky notes galore with a special student-led initiative of giving notes of appreciation to the custodial staff.

Cheerful welcome committees, testing out new Hello Styles, and learning new ways to reach out and connect on the playground were just a few activities that rounded out the fantastic Start With Hello festivities. We rise by lifting others was the perfect quote to capture the #WeAreElks Start With Hello spirit!

LISD STEM Academy at Valley Ridge Elementary, Lewisville, Texas

Student leaders at LISD STEM Academy are named JAG leaders after their fearless Jaguar school mascot. According to one student leader, “It is important to say hello to people because one day they might have a bad day and if you say hello it might make them more happier and cheerful and they’ll have a better day.” Great Start With Hello words of wisdom!

Start with Hello is just as much a part of our social-emotional activities as everything else. Our JAG Leaders, collectively known as Student Council, will be taking on our SAVE Promise Club where there will be additional opportunities for students to serve. Start with Hello is not just a one-week and done message. It is a goal, a promise, that each child makes and keeps all year, not just that one week in September.”

Angela Argumaniz, School Counselor

Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School, Indio, California

The LBJ Longhorns were 100% virtual, but that didn’t stop them from organizing energetic activities all week long. They were also a school community with some of the most prolific and wonderful Start With Hello Week social posts!

Educators at LBJ summarized the fun virtual connectors perfect for elementary-age students to get to know the three steps of Start With Hello: “Wear Green for the Sandy Hook Promise, Tip your cap to others to make a friend as a way to say hello, Say Hello from a Galaxy Far Away (Star Wars attire), Bring a Friend to your Zoom Class (Stuffed Friend) as we need to make friends with everyone, and write a note about being a friend.”

Middle Schools

Burnet Middle School, Burnet, Texas

SAVE Promise Club student leaders educated their school community about Start With Hello and created winning videos inspired by Maya Angelou’s powerful poem “Alone.”

Additionally, Start With Hello Week is a town-wide initiative. Thanks to teacher and SAVE Promise Club Advisor, Sara Te, for spearheading this annual tradition!

According to Burnet Middle School, “This year it is especially challenging to feel connected through masks, social distancing and being separated by in-person and virtual learning environments. So, we wanted to highlight the ‘reach out and help’ step of the 3 Start With Hello steps.”

Indio Middle School, Indio, California

Student leaders took the reins and planned out a host of engaging Start With Hello activities to boost connectedness and inclusion. “Our ASB (Associated Student Body) and WEB leaders were given the opportunity to plan a different school-wide activity for each day of our Start with Hello Week. Students could engage digitally with a video, personalized notes, expressive art pieces, and uplifting community messages.”

Students were tasked with communicating the week’s activities in their classes and supporting each other in the design and execution of each activity. Thank you Indio Middle School for your heartfelt video!

High Schools

Brandon High School, Brandon, Mississippi

Impressively, Brandon High School’s SAVE Promise Club engaged 1,500 students in Start With Hello Week this year! Start With Hello and speak to someone you don’t know; You can’t mask your smiles (under your mask); Say hello to where you want to go; and Don’t be blah, say Aloha were some of the catchy theme days.

The favorite was a school-based Start With Hello contest initiated by teacher and SAVE Promise Club Advisor, Rebecca Russell, using the theme of how Start With Hello creates unity in diversity.

Read a winning poem from the school-wide Start With Hello contest.

A Simple Hello

That loyal friend that you can trust

That battled the sea monsters and helped you adjust

Helped you in trouble and foreseen any bad decisions that you may take

And was there every step of the way

That made you laugh made you cry

And you wonder why

They are still there no matter how hard you try

Diversity that’s you and me and she and he

Different is everywhere to the color of your skin to the clothes you wear

To the way you talk to the way you wear your hair

My friend, we are different too

Our friendship is so deep that we aren’t afraid to take a leap

Our differences–it overflows

It’s kinda crazy that it started with a simple Hello

North Broward Preparatory School, Coconut Creek, Florida

North Broward Preparatory School’s SAVE Promise Club organized 13 Start With Hello Week activities that engaged 1,200 students in the upper and lower schools! We encourage you to use the SAVE Promise Club’s recorded videos as exemplars for your own schools and SAVE Promise Clubs as you aim to teach your school communities about the three steps of Start With Hello!

The Kona Ice truck was a big hit and allowed students to mix and mingle in a safe social distance while enjoying a delicious treat! SAVE Promise Club Advisor Michelle Henne shares that adjusting to virtual and hybrid learning environments didn’t stop the Feltingoff SAVE Promise Club: “We created a virtual message board that allowed students to write nice messages and answer questions about Start With Hello Week all online so everyone could access it and take part. We also filmed a video presentation that was shown during the week not only in school but also virtually.”

Shadow Hills High School, Indio, California

5 texts, 5 calls, and 5 emails to spread positivity across the school community! Knights do it right! The Shadow Hill student leaders took Start With Hello Week to the next level with a student-led Knightly Knews broadcast, daily challenges, and exciting raffles.

They also emphasized suicide prevention this year. The Shadow Hill Knights will keep the Start With Hello momentum going.

“We plan to continue to post positivity on our school social media to brighten our students’ days. We will be honoring students for student of the month that have gone above and beyond to demonstrate the importance of creating an inclusive school community. Positive Postcards and Principal phone calls will go home each week to keep kids connected and to remind them that we are there for them.”

Shadow Hill Knights

Congratulations again to all of the incredible Start With Hello Week School Award winners! Your actions, activities, videos, social posts, and images highlighted community-building, youth leadership, and the power of reaching out to connect and help others. We are eager to see what you do for Start With Hello Week Awards this year! Find out more about the awards and how you can enter.

About Start With Hello

Start With Hello teaches students in grades K – 12 to help their peers in a fun and meaningful way throughout the school year. They take small but powerful actions to promote inclusion and to support students who are showing signs of loneliness or social isolation. Learn more about the no-cost program.