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Student Voices Award Winners

Collage of winners from 2023 student voices contest

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Student Voices Awards! These awards recognize students who creatively voice the core messages of the Start With Hello and Say Something programs by creating safe, empathetic, and inclusive school communities. The type of entries that were accepted included: artwork, spoken word or videos, visual, or garden.

Their creativity has and will continue to inspire students nationwide to be changemakers by leading with empathy and being Upstanders. Join us in celebrating these wonderful students who participated in the contest!

Explore their award-winning submissions and get creative ideas for your own communities.

First Place

To Bystanders – Spoken Word

By: Inezzence, North Carolina

“I wrote this original monologue from my own experience in life of being bullied. This has given me a chance to tell people what I have been through and to help people understand that helping others can save their life. If I can help people stand up for what’s right, then I have truly accomplished something in life. I will treasure this for life. Just the thought about people actually seeing this I feel like I have accomplished something. I am very proud of myself for staying strong and not giving up. I really do hope I can help somebody even if I might not be able to change their lives. I have high faith.” – Inezzence

Second Place

A Planet of Sprouting Promise – Spoken Word

By: High Point Regional High School, New Jersey

“This spoken word poem is a collection of words from over 45 students at High Point Regional High School. Our SAVE Promise Club facilitated an activity, which we call a “community poem.” SAVE Promise Club members created prompts such as “Describe violence in a few words?” “What would a world look like without violence?” “How do you react when you hear about violence?” “Are we the generation that will create change?” among others. Then, we had members and students in creative writing and social justice classes submit their responses. Using the 45 responses we received, we created this poem with every response included.” – Joel

Third Place

The Subtle but Significant Signs of Violence – Artwork

By: Julie, Connecticut

“My entry is a painting that symbolizes the disregard for signs of violence. My painting displays an image of a young child that is injured, which is meant to portray the signs of violence that others can inflict on a person (abuse, assault) or that they can inflict on themselves. However, the child is also wearing both a bullet necklace and a shirt with the words “Born To Kill” on it. These display two fairly obvious signs of (possible) violence towards others or having an obsession with violence. In the image, there are also many shapes and lines that distract you from the child, which are meant to embody how signs of violence are often overlooked. Around the painting there are many flowers and handprints, symbolizing the lives taken because of neglect towards signs of violence. Also included, are a few words in the image on how violence can affect many people and how important it is to pay attention to signs and speak about them to avoid tragedies.” – Julia

Fourth Place

Saving Grace – Video

By: Tifa, North Carolina

“This short film promotes awareness about online threats and speaking up if you see something suspicious. A student sees a threatening statement online and decides that it is best to report the issue to a trusted adult at her school. That trusted adult then reports it to the school’s principal. As seen in the film, the student speaks up with a note. Displaying that there are multiple ways to speak up about threatening issues.” – Tifa

Fifth Place

SAVE Tree – Artwork

By: Adarshana, North Carolina

“Inspired by the Sandy Hook Promise logo, this artwork was recreated as a hand which looks like a tree, representing standing up and using one’s voice. The Trunk and roots of the tree contains words from students in Hickory Ridge High School after they were asked stories about how they made friends (the trunk) or how someone can make a friend (the root). The flowers growing next to the trees contains inspiring quotes many of the students lived by or wanted to share. The leaves of the trees say the word “Hello” in many different languages to show inclusivity and diversity for ‘Start with Hello’ programs. The heart and the word SAVE is spelled out in the finger tips of the hand. Overall, this artwork is meant to represent the power of SAVE club, as well serve as a bonding activity for students in the school by sharing stories.” – Adarshana

Sixth Place

Hollins SAVE Promise Club – Spoken Word

By: SAVE Promise Club / Interact Club, Florida

“SAVE Promise Club at Hollins High School is partnered with the Interact Club. (Community service club) We volunteer at various activities in our community and have activities on campus to promote safety and inclusiveness. We participated in Sandy Hook Promise events all year long. Our video is a spoken word that Club members wrote together to showcase what events we do on campus. Besides what is shown here we also have an interactive book club; we go to a local elementary school once a week to perform (reader’s theatre style) a book for their age along with follow up questions and an art activity. Also, a knitting club that has been knitting baby hats and blankets for babies in Sri Lanka. (So far we have 100 blankets and 150 baby hats.) One of my favorite activities we do is the Taste Of Hollins; this is an event where cultural dishes are served. These dishes were decided by members and prepared and served by the members. At this event we play cultural trivia, cultural just dance, and a guest speaker whose parents are survivors of the Holocaust. This year we are adding Salsa lessons to the dinner. “ – Hollins SAVE Promise Club

Experience More Student Voices

Follow us on social media to continue to see youth voices showcased. Find us on Twitter at @sandyhook and on Facebook and Instagram at @sandyhookpromise.

You can also get involved by entering your own creations. Find out more about the awards and how you can enter.