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Students at Lincoln School took pictures at the photobooth

All It Takes is a Hello

All across the country, there have been countless mass shootings occurring in schools, malls, grocery stores, and churches in 2019 alone. On December 14, 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Sandy Hook Promise was founded by parents and loved ones who lost family members on that day. According to their website, their goal is to, “create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools.”


Start with Hello Week, created by the Sandy Hook Promise,  took place the week of Monday, September 23, 2019 here in Nutley to raise awareness and to decrease social isolation and to promote acceptance and connectedness. “The premise is simple: to extend oneself to another student by simply saying hello. This small act could change another person’s day for the better which creates a more positive school culture for all,” said Mrs. Lisa Cassilli, NHS Student Assistance Counselor. Two years ago, NHS participated in this event by creating a bulletin board and reading positive quotes each morning and handing out bracelets to remind students that they are not alone. 


Start with Hello has three simple steps: 

1. See Someone Alone

2. Reach Out and Help

3. Simply Start With Hello

This year at the high school, NHS CORE Ambassadors created a kindness-themed Spirit Week for students and staff to participate in. Ambassadors also sat with students who might have been sitting alone to try to make new friends to get them included. At the end of the week, there was a pizza party and all members brought someone new who they met through the event with them to celebrate.


“We are hopeful that these events will initiate a positive school year and encourage all students to take responsibility, which was a NHS character theme for September, and creating a school culture that models inclusion, empathy and kindness,” stated Mrs. Cassilli. 


The elementary schools also planned a kindness-themed Spirit Week to promote inclusivity, and have designed creative, interactive displays to foster new connections between students. At Lincoln Elementary School, students were able to take pictures in a photo booth with new friends they made.


On October 7, the middle school will host a guest speaker from the Sandy Hook Promise to start off their Start with Hello Week. 


Bullying and exclusion occur everywhere and are enhanced by technology and social media. Social media should be utilized to make others feel uplifted and inspired, not judged or make them feel bad about themselves.


Students can participate by posting photos on their Instagram pages and use hashtag #startwithhello and tagging Sandy Hook Promise.