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Students and Educators Reconnect During Start With Hello Week

Elementary students wearing green for Start With Hello Week gather outside for a group photo.

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Thousands of schools nationwide helped students make new connections this month during Start With Hello Week. And making new connections, or reconnecting with old friends, is more important than ever as students return to schools after more than a year of virtual learning. 

More than 2.5 million students in 4,000+ schools participated in student-led activities in September to help create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for their classmates. Students celebrated the week and their return to school with new dance routines, kindness notes, and more. For many students, it was the first time they’ve seen their classmates in person since the pandemic began. 

The excitement nearly jumped off the screen during a virtual Pep Rally that kicked off the week. Some schools held watch parties as students dressed in green and cheered on their peers. Others joined together to create videos of their own school’s Start With Hello Week celebrations. Pep rally participants enjoyed the videos during the rally. More than a thousand students registered for the event!

Welcome Back

Educators and students in the Fulton County School District in Georgia went out of their way this year to welcome students back to in-person learning. Educators at Dunwoody Springs Elementary greeted students on their first day in Start With Hello style, while cheerleaders with the Bear Creek Middle School created a special routine for the week.

In honor of the week, students with the North Marion Middle School in Florida, a previous Start With Hello Week award recipient, created a Buddy Table in the cafeteria. It’s a permanent table that will be a safe place for everyone.

But it wasn’t just the students who were greeted with open arms when they returned to school. Students celebrated many educators for being their Trusted Adults – a popular theme this year.  One administrator received a note from a student that he was such a good “Prince Able.”

Other students shared how their teacher reignited their love of learning.

Going Green

Green Out Day was a popular activity for both students and educators alike this year. Everyone seemed to get involved. Social media – from Twitter to Instagram – were full of images and videos of people proudly wearing green.

“Green is an important color for Sandy Hook Promise. Green is symbolic of change and growth and implies learning, harmony, and protection. Those values are at our core. Wear your green with pride.”

Nicole Hockley, our co-founder, and managing director, told students during the Pep Rally.


If your school participated in Start With Hello Week, remember to apply for awards! You can enter the Start With Hello Week School Awards and Start With Hello Week Student Voices Awards!  Students can submit their original writing, artwork, and musical performances for a chance to win a $100 prize. Winners will also receive recognition on Sandy Hook Promise’s website and sharing of your original work on Sandy Hook Promise’s social channels. The school awards honor outstanding student leadership and empathy-building activities that carry forward the spirit of Start With Hello Week throughout the school year.