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It Starts With Hello at West Branch

It Starts With Hello at West Branch

This fall, Warriors of all ages celebrated kindness, inclusivity, and diversity through the district’s It Starts with Hello week activities.

A part of the Sandy Hook Promise, It Starts With Hello week is a national call-to-action week dedicated to making new social connections and creating a sense of belonging among youth.

West Branch counselors across all schools put together programming to foster kindness and encourage students to engage with their peers. Activities throughout the week gave students the opportunity to connect with others they may not normally interact with - by saying ‘hi’ to three new friends or teachers in the Early Learning Center and Preschool, or sparking conversations with “Would you rather” conversations while sitting with new groups at lunch time in the Intermediate School.

Themed days accompanied these conversations in the Preschool, Early Learning Center, Intermediate School, and Middle School. One day, students wore green to represent solidarity, while on another day, students wore something that was their favorite to prompt conversations. Spirit wear reminded students they are all a team and work together.

Counselors and students discussed what “See something, say something” meant for each age group. In younger cohorts, students are encouraged to say hello when they see someone alone. 
Older students took the conversation further, discussing warning signs and how to bring concerns to adults when they should say something, including a mentoring program with 8th grade students.

The activities, conversations, and skills throughout the week arm Warrior students with the knowledge of signs of social isolation, and the tools to increase inclusivity and empathy with their classmates.

Students in the High School pledged to say something if they see something. High school students discussed warning signs and how to approach an adult with their concerns during It Starts with Hello Week.

West Branch High School students sign the pledge to say something if they see something of concern.

On “Hey! Day,”each student and staff member wore a name tag throughout the day and we encouraged them to say “Hey!” to at least two new friends. Students sat together at lunch according to their birthday month in order to mingle with each other. “Would you rather…” conversation starters were placed on each table to help the kids get to know more about each other.