“Start With Hello” initiative promotes awareness among students


Cherish Bland, Deja Smith, and Ashley Pendleton hold up their 5 W’s sheets they filled out on “Be a Lifesaver Day.” Picture By: Amanda Berneche

On Friday, Sep. 10, teachers and students began a new program called “Start with Hello”. The program, which took place Sep. 21 – Sep. 24, was created by the Sandy Hook Promise Organization in an effort for students grades K-12 to promote inclusivity and prevent social isolation. Each day students participated in different social activities with their peers. 

Although it may have struck several students as awkward, it served as an icebreaker for a lot of students, and may have been a small step for preventing social isolation for many. For the first activity, students received a “Start With Hello” sticker that they were able to write their name on and use as a name tag. The objective given to students was to meet someone new and give a polite compliment, or strike up a conversation while addressing them by the name on their name tag. 

Sophomore Avery Tingen had good things to say about the first activity. 

“It gave me an excuse to walk up to a lot of freshmen that I didn’t know, and it reminded me that Clover Hill was very friendly,” Tingen said.

On Wednesday, Sep. 22, students received a Lifesaver candy taped to a piece of paper with five questions on it referred to as the “5 W’s.” Students talked to the people around them using the questions as a conversation starter: “Who are you?,” “What’s one item you would buy if money was not an object?,” “When were you born?,” “Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?,” and “Would you rather live for a week in the past or future?” Afterward, students’ pictures were taken with a selfie frame that called them a “Lifesaver.” 

Wednesday’s activity helped to start conversations among the students of Clover Hill, and provided them an opportunity to open up about themselves. 

Junior John Best enjoyed the second activity quite a bit.

“I like that they’re encouraging students to talk to other students,” Best said. “It’s hard to talk to somebody who doesn’t talk to anybody, so something like “Start With Hello” is very helpful for that.”

On Thursday, Sep. 23, a banner was posted outside of the library where students were told to write an interesting or funny conversation starter to spark up some laughs and social interactions.

Thursday’s activity was seen as having much thought put into it by Senior Emily Taylor.

“Thursday’s activity was a great idea because it was more passive, and it might have helped those who were socially isolated to stay in their comfort zone, while still isolating themselves less,” Taylor said.

On Friday, Sep. 24, the final day of the “Start With Hello” program, students were encouraged to wear green to match the color related to the Sandy Hook Promise Organization and to unite students under the cause. 

The primary goal of the “Start With Hello” program is to help students become more aware of the dangers of social isolation and to help prevent social isolation and exclusion in the future. 

Students had positive outlooks on how this program’s goal can help the students of Clover Hill as a whole.

“I think this can help a lot of people take their first step towards becoming not socially isolated,” Best said.

“I think this can help validate those who do feel isolated in letting them know that they are not alone in the way they feel,” Taylor said.

“This program can help rebuild some social structure and social skills after coming back from online school,” Best said.

“I think we should have at least one of these activities every week,” Tingen said.

Students participate in the lifesaver activity on Wednesday of the whole “Start with Hello” week. Picture By: Ms. Amanda Berneche