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Start With Hello Week 2021 Award Winners

The image shows three students within a photo frame. The frames says “I will Start With Hello!"

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Congratulations to the Sandy Hook Promise Start With Hello Week School and District contest award winners! Student leaders paved the way for kindness, inclusivity, and connectedness with engaging and empowering activities. They celebrated the important Start With Hello program messages of kindness and inclusivity.

See their award-winning entries, watch the videos and get ideas for your own community.


Plainview-Old Bethpage Elementary Schools, Old Bethpage, New York


District Award

Plainview-Old Bethpage Elementary Schools, Old Bethpage, New York

What an impressive district-wide Start With Hello Week from Plainview-Old Bethpage Elementary Schools! They engaged over 1,500 students in all four of their elementary schools during Start With Hello Week! In addition, each of these schools had several students join their school’s Leadership team to develop Start With Hello Week activities.

One of the many inspiring activities was the Smile Wall. Students wrote something that made them smile during the week on Post-it notes and then stuck them on the Smile Wall. Check some heart-warming examples:

School Awards

Edison Elementary School, Minot, North Dakota

They’re called the ‘Edison Sparks’ for a wonderful reason! Their new “Be the Light” student leaders sparked;Start With Hello spirit in so many creative ways. Surprise special guests from the community were invited to the school each day of Start With Hello Week. Police, fire, and sheriff’s departments visited Edison with a special “Hello” style. Athletes from the local high school stopped by to fill the hallways with cheers and “Hello” energy.

Minot State University athletes and cheer team members flooded the school with kindness and talked about the importance of inclusion.

We try to focus on supporting our students’ social-emotional needs through school-wide activities celebrating kind actions, and building our community. We try our best to support EVERY student, EVERY teacher, EVERY classroom, EVERY minute, EVERY day!”

Andrea Lang, School Counselor

Francis T. Maloney High School, Meriden, Connecticut

It was Maloney High School’s third;Start With Hello Week celebration and they went big on kindness! When you walk into the lobby of Maloney, you’ll see a large banner that states, “We’re Happy You’re Here”.

Student Council student leaders promoted the Call-to-Action week early through announcements and social media. When the week started, the school community was ready and eager to participate in the Start With Hello celebration. A widely popular activity was Promise links. Each student completed the prompt Hello My Name is … in the spirit of Start With Hello I will….. and linked their ‘promises’ together.

On Thursday, they helped get materials put together for the school wide advisory activity of making a start with hello paper chain. This ended up being a beautiful visual display of how little efforts put together make a big impact! Every student and teacher contributed a link with their promise to complete one act of inclusion and kindness. Groups brainstormed actions and selected one for themselves. The links were joined together and displayed in the hall.

Sarah Regan, Teacher and Student Council Advisor

High Point Regional High School, Sussex, New Jersey

The SAVE Promise Club met over the summer to plan their schoolwide Start With Hello activities. And all the planning and hard work certainly paid off! ‘Thumbs-Up for Social Inclusion’ and ‘Don’t Be Mean, Wear Green’ were two popular Start With Hello activities.

The SAVE Promise Club celebrated student participation in many fun ways and posted activities on social media throughout the week. This was a student-led awareness week to remember. Two thunderstorms didn’t even ruin the welcoming Start With Hello H-E-L-L-O greeting posted on the exterior of the school windows.

LISD STEM Academy at Valley Ridge Elementary, Lewisville, Texas

Fifth-grade ‘Kindness Ambassadors’ greeted students daily for Start With Hello Week. These student leaders facilitate all social-emotional learning activities year-round. Start With Hello has become part of the school routine and culture.

During Start with Hello week, lessons were taught in the classrooms, conversation starters were shared at lunch, and parents were given challenges with their students each night. A “Welcome Wall” of new student pictures was also created. Start with Hello is recognized in the month of September but it is something that is practiced every day. We are proud to call to LISD STEM Academy at Valley Ridge Elementary home.

Angela Argumaniz, School Counselor

Miami Springs Senior High School, Miami, Florida

Start With Hello Film Festival’ was the title of Miami Springs Senior High School’s award-winning video that captured school-wide festive participation in this year’s awareness week. All the clubs came together with Start With Hello spirit!

A popular positivity station “spread kindness like confetti” across the school community and students continued the energy with a ‘Wild About Kindness’ themed day. Students connected to one another through a team-building game using parachutes and balls. While playing the game, Latin music was played in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. What a great inclusive activity for Start With Hello Week!

North Broward Preparatory School Feltingoff SAVE Promise Club, Coconut Creek, Florida

Students played a leadership role during Start With Hello Week activities by demonstrating commitment, creativity, and responsibility. Every activity was organized and executed by student volunteers and club members. Our activities could not have been successful without the dedication of members throughout the planning process, and our club had a very impactful Start With Hello Week that encompassed all important aspects of starting with hello.”

Isabel, SAVE Promise Club Vice President

The most successful and well-attended event was Start With Hello With a Cup of Joe! As students walked up to the school campus, they were greeted with a cup of donated coffee, and an invitation to socialize and Start With Hello with someone new.

North Marion Middle School, Citra, Florida

‘Power of Hello’ is the North Marion Middle School SAVE Promise Club’s motto for Start With Hello Week! Club members participated in the first-ever virtual Start With Hello pep rally. The event showcased the many ways one simple word can make someone smile, make a difference, and save a life.

Student leaders continue to teach the message to their peers that they all have the power of hello! The week kept on moving with loads of activities that connected students throughout the school community, such as a fun photo booth.

Palos South Middle School, Palos Hills, Illinois

SAVE Promise Club student leaders walked in a Fall Festival parade during the week to get out into the community and raise awareness about everything Start With Hello! Festivities didn’t stop there, have you heard about Fly Together Friday? It was a signature event for Palos South.

Fly Together Friday was amazing. The entire student body gathered on our front lawn and we spelled out ‘HELLO’ with our bodies as a drone flew above and took a video and pictures of us. The final product, which was shared with parents, faculty and students, created a buzz about “Start with Hello” throughout the community. What a week!

Jill Yerkes, School Social Worker and SAVE Promise Club Advisor

PS 361Q (The Woodside Community School), Woodside, New York

Group of elementary student in front of "Hello" sign.

Start With Hello Week was the perfect way to reintroduce students back to school after remote learning. Teachers devoted morning meetings to facilitate group discussions about the importance of starting with “hello” and the power of social inclusion. They also reminded students about the three steps of Start With Hello program. An abundance of Student Ambassadors volunteered to greet younger students each morning of Start With Hello Week. The greetings included smiles and social and emotional support.

Students were overheard translating in Spanish for students who are still learning English, and helping to start conversations between younger students in the same class. We were amazed and pleased to see the friendships that began to develop throughout the week and believe the long-term impact will continue to be felt throughout our school community.”

Rebecca Schwartz, Music Teacher Special Programs Coordinator

Honorable Mentions


Carlinville Community Unit School District #1, Carlinville, Illinois


  • Crenshaw Elementary School, Midlothian, Virginia
  • Harney Elementary School, Vancouver, Washington
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School, Indio, California
  • Pacific Beach Middle School, San Diego, California

Bring Start With Hello to Your Community

Start With Hello helps students and educators build a culture of inclusivity and empathy. Schools report reductions in bullying and other harmful behaviors after participating in the program. What’s more, educator feedback indicates increased emotional wellness of students after Start With Hello. With convenient online learning modules and dedicated support from our educational experts, this no-cost program can make your school safer, and kinder.