The National Youth Advisory Board (YAB) consists of high school SAVE Promise Club members from across the country. Serving on the National SAVE Youth Advisory Board takes many hours of service during the school year. On average, most members contribute over 300 hours of time with work for the YAB, work with their club, and individual projects or presentations. Serving as a member of this prestigious and select group requires commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of time and often other organizational events.
Arriana Gross, Jared's Heart of Success, Georgia
Arriana Gross is a junior who is an active member of the Youth Organization Jared's Heart of Success in Georgia and who is passionate about SAVE Promise Club. She has been working to prevent violence for three years and was lucky enough to participate on the Youth Advisory Board during the 2019-2020 school year. With her SAVE Promise Club, Arriana has worked throughout her community on sharing the Start With Hello and Say Something messages on a monthly basis, including for youth at JJ's dance studio, McNair High School, and Lakeside High School, to educate them on the SAVE Promise Club monthly topics, including empathy and other important themes. Arriana believes starting with young kids is important so you can go ahead and support an empathetic leader. As a member of the Youth Advisory Board, Arriana hopes to make change through education, politics, and the power of her voice. She hopes to be a leader and representative of the awesomeness of the SAVE Promise Club and to join the effort for a better future for all.
Arriana is also an honor student at the Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School or ALANHS, which makes youth into well-rounded, college-bound students and gives her the exposure to be who she is today. Arriana has a creative streak, as she is also a singer and writer. She won the Young Georgia Authors award and many singing awards as well, showing her dedication to her craft.
Sharmaine Brown, Arriana’s advisor stated: “Arriana has done outstanding advocacy work in her school and in the community, she has a passion to help others and a servant heart. Arriana has facilitated SAVE Promise Club sessions at several of the local high schools we currently partner with and with the after-school program we assist in the evenings monthly, she is a self-starter and very motivated to the cause, she jumps in and assist whenever needed.”
Lena Kalandjian, North Broward Preparatory School, Florida
Lena is a junior at North Broward Preparatory School in Florida. This year will be her fifth year being part of the SAVE Promise Club and she is excited to bring new ideas from the Youth Advisory Board to share with her classmates and community. After Sandy Hook Promise visited her school in seventh grade, a spark ignited inside of her; a passion for leadership and service, and a duty to put an end to bullying and social isolation.
Since that first Start With Hello presentation, she co-founded the North Broward SAVE Promise Club, attended the National SAVE Youth Summit, and her club has won multiple awards. Lena currently serves as the Co-President of her school’s SAVE Promise Club, leading over 40 club members in their efforts to educate elementary, middle, and high school students on school violence prevention and promoting kindness towards others. They accomplish this by putting together fundraising events, spirit days, assemblies and free activities to engage students across all ages.
Lena is passionate about her SAVE Promise Club because of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD). She has lived in Parkland, Florida her whole life and her school is only 8 miles from MSD. The day after the horrific events at MSD, her school had a lockdown scare where they were forced to hide in the classroom for over an hour as SWAT teams escorted students out of their classrooms due to a shooting threat. This day will live forever in her mind as she experienced what so many students across the United States must deal with regularly. Lena feels fortunate that she was able to make it out safely, unlike the thousands of victims who lose their lives to gun violence every day. As a member of the Youth Advisory Board, Lena wants to help serve her community in any way that she can and use her platform to help others. Lena shared that she is “committed to doing whatever it takes to end violence in schools and make kindness and inclusivity the new norm.”
Lena is Executive VP of Student Government and is involved in various clubs and honors societies, as well as the Girls Varsity Basketball and Track & Field teams. She is the team lead of her school’s internationally ranked all-female underwater robotics team and the tech editor of the school newspaper. She has her own student life podcast called “NB On Air.”
Lena’s SAVE Promise Club Advisor, Michelle Henne states that “Lena has tirelessly played a huge part in transforming our club to one that is highly recognized by our school and local community, as well as the Sandy Hook Promise organization. Lena’s dedication to the club’s mission is evident by the implementation of the Know the Signs programs at the lower, middle and high school levels. Through her leadership efforts, Lena has allowed for our school to take an active role in the Start With Hello and Say Something Weeks. She has introduced, organized and executed many inspirational activities to help spread the message of inclusiveness and the importance of school safety. Lena is a unique and upstanding student who truly embodies the mission of the National SAVE Promise Club.”
Cheyanne Kochan, Swansboro High School, North Carolina
Cheyanne is a Sophomore at Swansboro High School in North Carolina. This will be her second year involved with her SAVE Promise Club. She was excited to jump in to assist her SAVE Promise Club in their Start With Hello and Say Something club activities, embracing the programs’ messaging and providing ideas for enhancing the activities and sustaining the messages all year long. Cheyanne shared that some of her favorite club activities included “sit with a new friend during lunch” and “high five” day. She enjoys utilizing her creative side to create posters and videos for the club. Their Say Something activities included involving local middle school and elementary schools in a “Meet at the Fence” event. She feels that students enjoy having a reason to stand up for themselves and for each other. While on the Youth Advisory Board, Cheyanne hopes to “show more kids that they shouldn't be scared to get in trouble to tell someone that someone is hurting and needs help. I also want to help lower the rate of suicide in teenagers in school.”
In addition to being in SAVE Promise Club, Cheyanne is a volunteer with the Fish Strong Foundation which raises money for kids with cancer and other traumatic childhood illnesses. Cheyanne has a passion for mental wellness and “wants to help students across the world with their depression, anxiety or things going on at home. I hope to help lower the suicide rate wherever I can.”
Cheyanne’s Club Advisor, Martha Kelley shared that “Cheyanne is genuine and she 'really' cares about her fellow classmates and community. She has great ideas about how to connect with other students; she does not give up.”
Dyuthi Kumar, California High School, California
Dyuthi Kumar is a junior at California High School in San Ramon, California. Being the founder and President of California High School's Save Promise Club, which started in the 2019 – 2020 school year, Dyuthi has fallen in love with the program and feels it gives her purpose every single day. She is looking forward to the second year of their club. Many of the projects she has pursued revolve around building platforms where students can speak freely and be heard. Even though her club has only been in existence for one year, Dyuthi feels it has left its mark to be continued for the years to come. One of the most prominent ways the club has affected the school has been by starting conversations.
In order to be able to make changes upon the campus and breach heavy discussions like family violence, mental health, and/or school shootings, individuals need an environment in which they feel comfortable speaking up. This is especially applicable in high school where “cliques” are prevalent, and students don’t often take the initiative to mix. She feels their Save Promise Club took their own tiny steps to bridge that gap. During Start With Hello week, they focused on activities that initially were meant to just get students to introduce themselves to each other; but activities later in the week got them touching on topics a little bit more geared towards mental health and campus awareness.
They had a student who decided to drop by, and her words are still something that they talk about when planning events: “I realized I wasn’t alone in what I was going through”. It was those words that drove them to host their first school town hall meeting where they kept the conversation starters light, and let discussions steer themselves. It was a small group, and the conversations went to hard places. However, it ended with tears and hugs. There was a small bubble created where students could speak without fear of judgement and be secure in the fact that their voice held value.
By starting these conversations, youth are inspired when they hear others speak, and one cannot form solutions when they don’t talk about the problem. Our club has set its precedent as a safe place where voices are heard and valued.
Dyuthi is a dedicated member of her school's Leadership Program, and has collaboratively worked to put together multiple large-scale events. She participates as an elected member of Cal High’s School Site Council and as a student representative for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which is tasked with creating goals and leveraging resources to improve student outcomes. Dyuthi is a Varsity singles tennis player, Indian classical dancer, voracious reader, and published writer.
Dyuthi’s SAVE Promise Club Advisor Patty Mullins shared that “Dyuthi and co-leader Sopia Kraskowsky worked hard to launch our Say Something Program. She introduced the concept at a staff meeting and gathered materials to create a week-long program that involved teachers during tutorial time and lunch programming. Dyuthi participated in our campus club outing recruiting close to 30 students into our club. She had meetings and launched the concept of a town hall meeting so students have a place to address their concerns and gather to talk about what would keep out schools safe. In quarantine she led our group in Zoom meetings to keep the momentum going.”
Andrew (Drew) Landsaw, Cutler Bay Senior High School, Florida
Drew Landsaw is a junior at Cutler Bay Senior High School in Florida in the Liberal Arts and AOHT Academies. Drew has been an extremely involved member of his SAVE Promise Club as the Vice President and incumbent Club President. Of all the SAVE activities, he personally feels that Say Something and Start With Hello are the most impactful and meaningful activities carried out by him and his peers. During his first two years of high school, by taking lead in his SAVE Promise Club and forming a separate L.O.W. (Least of Our Worries) Club, focusing on mental health, he continually works to create a safer and more accepting school environment.
Drew is Class President, captain of the track and field team, President of the AOHT Academy Council, and is a member of his school’s Math, Science, and English Honor Societies. Drew feels that the SAVE Promise Club activities and other similar programs are a vital part of creating a safer future for both schools and other communities. Specifically, with the Say Something program, he feels it is necessary and effective because it takes a complex issue and creates a simple, three step solution.
He states, “If the Say Something program was taught to every student in America, no matter the situation, children and teenagers would know exactly who to talk to and how to handle it. Just imagine how much violence could be prevented by presenting one simple PowerPoint.” Additionally, he feels that through following the principles of Start With Hello, the issue of students feeling left out and socially abandoned could be virtually eradicated. Drew believes that human connection and an open heart are the key components to solving many of the major issues in our schools. This is the mentality he strives to maintain throughout his everyday life.
By connecting with people in many ways - athletically through cross country and track, artistically through his school’s performing arts club, academically through his AICE and AP classes, and socially in all other situations - he aims to act as a friend and confidant for as many of his peers as possible. He also feels that this allows him to learn from many different people with a wide range of perspectives, broadening his personal point of view. He feels that SAVE Promise Club can help to instill this mentality into kids around the country by connecting students through passions over important topics such as violence prevention and mental health.
During his first year on the SAVE Promise Club Youth Advisory Board, he hopes that he can act as a reliable student advocate of SAVE and its activities. He also plans to help expand its programs and their activities, turning Sandy Hook Promise into an even more widespread organization.
Drew’s Advisor, LaShanda West stated: “Drew is determined to be engaged as a student leader encouraging students to participate through social inclusion focusing especially on those students who tend to shy away from large groups.”
Amber McCormack, Mukwonago High School, Wisconsin
Amber McCormack is a Senior at Mukwonago High School in Wisconsin, which has a SAVE Promise Club that has been active for more than 15 years. This is Amber’s second year on the Youth Advisory Board. Amber is very passionate about SAVE Promise Club and has been elected as President for her school club. Her favorite memory from the SAVE Promise Club this last year was a kick-off event for National Youth Violence Prevention Week involving a half-time display during a football game with her school’s students as well as the opposing team’s students. This event included a myriad of stars on the football field to commemorate the lives lost due to school violence.
She enjoyed this event because “it was a great visual display of the community coming together for the cause of ending violence at school. It was amazing to see not only my community but to see the opposing team stand with us to share the common goal.” Amber is extremely grateful to be on the board again for another year to continue sharing her youth voice and perspective with Sandy Hook Promise. This year on the board she hopes to bring more change and to work with clubs nation-wide on bringing new activities and programs to their school to further incorporate Say Something and Start With Hello ideas throughout the entire year.
Besides, SAVE Promise Club, Amber is involved in Student Government, Key Club, Mock Trial, and Global Certificate Program. She has also held the positions of Sophomore and Junior Class Officer and plans to be a Senior Class Officer. Through these different organizations, Amber has learned innovative ways to run and organize events, as well as had the opportunity to meet people from all different backgrounds. Amber can excel in various clubs, two sports, AP classes, and a part-time job all at once.
Amber’s advisors, Sarah Dianich and Marilyn Toshner, shared “Amber is particularly skilled at keeping her fellow students on task and organizing whatever requires order in our organization. She has attended, planned, and spoken in multiple school events and activities, including SAVE [Promise Club] visits with the local elementary and middle schools. Amber is an amazing leader and is always reliable. Mukwonago High School is very lucky to have her.”
Aashi Mittal, Del Norte High School, California
Aashi is a junior at Del Norte High School in San Diego, California. She co-founded her school's SAVE Promise Club as a sophomore, and as President, has guided her school through its first year of Start With Hello and Say Something activities. She helped to lead the implementation of Start With Hello and Say Something with club members. They conducted many activities that were meant to bring together students who don’t often interact, and overall promote diversity, awareness, safety, and inclusion.
For Start With Hello, these activities included a “Wall of Positivity”, a “Flock to the Hawk” day in collaboration with our Best Buddies Club, where all Nighthawks met up at the quad near our school emblem to play board games and compete in fun challenges with new friends. We also put on a “Yes Day” where we encouraged all students to invite another student or group of students to go with them somewhere, whether to the quad with them to eat lunch together, to study in the library, to watch the football game, go get ice cream after school, or even just to tag along as they did errands around the school, in order to spark conversations. We also did a “Hello my Name Is” activity that week, where the entire school made name tags - which many of us hadn’t done since elementary school - and wore them all day and had to greet at least 10 people by name in the halls.
For Say Something, activities included a Staff Poster called “You can SAY SOMETHING to Me” which all staff members signed with a note to their students. We also launched a Student Pledge to report any signs or threats, a “Share a Statistic Day” where students were encouraged to post a statistic or quote that empowered them on their social media, and a “Wear Green” spirit day to unite our Nighthawks in solidarity against violence and for mental health.
Proud to be part of such a large, inclusive, and diverse community, Aashi aims to promote safety and inclusion in her school and in schools all around the nation. She works toward this not only through SAVE Promise Club, but also as a Peer Counselor by mentoring and tutoring her classmates, and as a Link Crew member by welcoming new students. Aashi firmly believes that every voice against violence and every act of kindness no matter how small, makes a difference. She is incredibly grateful for this opportunity and the platform the SAVE Promise program has given her to raise her own voice and help be the change she wants to see around her.
Outside of SAVE Promise Club and Peer Counseling, Aashi is fascinated by science. She is part of her school's Science Olympiad and iGEM teams. She loves diving deep into her science classes and encouraging everyone around her to pursue their passion for learning. She also enjoys dancing and swimming. Aashi can't wait to make an impact on not only her own school, but on schools all around the country this year as a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) member.
On the YAB, Aashi hopes to spread the message that everyone can help prevent violence, no matter where they live or how old they are, by just being kind to their classmates. She also wants to help students build connections across different schools, as she feels that meeting people from outside one’s school, city, or state, can give a very powerful perspective, and cultivate empathy. Her number one goal is to demonstrate that no matter how young someone is, their voice can have an impact in their community, and to encourage all students around the nation to unite against violence.
Michelle Hinds, Aashi’s SAVE Promise Club Advisor, shared that “Aashi has taken the initiative to build a SAVE presence at Del Norte High School where there was none. She has demonstrated an ongoing passion for creating a safe and inclusive campus through spreading positive messages, and being mindful of her own personal interactions with others. Aashi doesn’t walk through the halls with her face in her phone- she is always making eye contact, greeting people with a smile or a simple hello. She continues to strengthen the SAVE Promise Club presence by recruiting new members and sharing her drive and commitment with others.”
Jyothi Rajagopal, Elkins High School, Texas
Jyothi Rajagopal is a senior at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas. Her SAVE Promise Club is part of their Peer Assistant Leadership (PALs) program. Even though their club is young, Jyothi feels like they have accomplished so much even with a shortened school year. Jyothi’s favorite part of the club was the Start With Hello initiative. The club created a week of activities surrounding the initiative, including creating videos that aired on the morning announcements that centered around the theme of Starting With Hello. The videos were focused on saying hello in different languages, random acts of kindness, and an animated situation in which saying hello changed the course of the character’s day. Jyothi’s favorite project was using her creative side to help design bracelets for the student body, to provide greater awareness of Start With Hello.
The club was in the process of planning their Say Something Week when COVID interfered. Their plans included daily activities that would introduce the topic and launch the message, creating informational pamphlets on the initiative, as well as rubber bracelets with the words “#saysomething” on one side and our districts hotline number on the other. The rest of the week included hanging up posters that showed the difference between an upstander and a bystander, activities on the “recipe for respect”, and teamwork activities. As a part of the Youth Advisory Board, Jyothi hopes to extend the program to schools that don't usually take part in initiatives like this, and hopefully make a difference with students across the nation.
Jyothi plays bass in the top orchestra at Elkins High and has been a part of the debate team since her freshman year. She was also a delegate for Elkins at the Hugh O'Brian Texas Gulf Coast Leadership Conference.
Her advisor, Christopher Nguyen, shared “Jyothi is a very caring and passionate student, she is an incredible leader who goes out of her way to help. I know for a fact that she will be a great serving on the National Youth Advisory Board because of her great work ethics and leadership.”
Teresa Skripek, Biloxi High School, Mississippi
Teresa Skripek is a junior at Biloxi High School, in Biloxi, Mississippi. This is her first year serving on the National Youth Advisory Board. Skripek feels that her SAVE Promise Club has made a huge impact on how she approaches issues, and has made her feel more confident to speak out against injustice. Skripek states, “Being a part of SAVE [Promise Club] has made me realize that I don’t have to wait 20 years to speak out, because the time to talk is now”.
As a member of YAB, Skripek wants to raise awareness for mental health. Skripek states “as someone who struggles with mental health, I want to use my platform to improve schools so that no one has to be alone.” She also hopes to broaden the horizons of SAVE Promise Club to include sexual assault awareness.
While it is an extremely sensitive topic, it is our duty as society to help victims, but to also prevent it from happening in the future. Skripek states “We need to remove the stigma that blames survivors and prevents them from seeking justice. It is crucial that we teach our generation that they are not alone, and rather create citizens that value consent, because this shouldn’t have to happen to anyone. After all, a society built on respect and morals will only do good”.
Along with her SAVE Promise Club, that is part of her Schools Campus Security Council, she also participates in SADD Club, Key Club, Asian Student Association, Environmental Club, and more. She enjoys volunteering and making a difference through these clubs.
Officer Daisy McCarroll shared, “This was Teresa's first year as a member of Campus Security Council and SAVE [Promise Club]. Teresa is a responsible young person who is willing to volunteer her time and help in as many ways as possible. Teresa won the community service award this year, by earning 26 hours. She is very creative and artistic.”
Hanadie Tulemat, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Illinois
Hanadie is a junior at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Illinois. She believes her SAVE Promise Club has made a positive impact on her school in many ways. Their club hosted a Say Something Summit for area schools. Hanadie shared “students are more open to sharing concerns or calling out for help. If there is a fight students will call a teacher for help; when a student feels down or sees someone else is constantly feeling down, there has been an uprising to tell a trusted adult; and most importantly when there is a threat to the school, a trusted adult is told.”
While serving on the Youth Advisory Board, Hanadie hopes to accomplish growing as a person, make a change while helping others, open teenagers’ eyes to the world and show them how to protect one another. She is excited to help with the Youth Advisory Board by bringing her skills and talents to the 'table'. Hanadie is a member of track & field and enjoys powerlifting. She is involved in many clubs and leadership opportunities at Stagg High School, including the Adventure Club, Student Ambassadors, Key Club, Social Action Club, Student Council, Charger Nation, and the Principal and Superintendent Advisory.
Her club advisor, Mary Pat Carr, stated that “Hanadie has been passionate about Say Something and the efforts of Sandy Hook Promise since she began at Stagg. Hanadie spoke passionately to over 100 students from 10 other schools about how much Say Something, Start With Hello, and the efforts of Sandy Hook Promise have impacted her and her classmates”.