Say Something Week Educates and Spreads Awareness of Sandy Hook Promise
Derek Pezo '19 & Hailey Raimo '19
2 March 2019
From February 25th through March 1st, Passaic Valley participated in "Say Something Week." As a part of the Sandy Hook Promise, "Say Something Week" was an exciting new initiative designed to raise awareness of warning signs for school violence and encourage students to come forward if they witness potentially harmful behaviors.
Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit organization that seeks to prevent gun violence among teens through education of potential triggers, warning signs, and reporting methods. “Once we first got an email from the Sandy Hook Promise about their program, we felt like it was something really important that we needed to bring to this school,” explained Ms. Kelly Morris, Student Assistance Coordinator. Guidance Counselor Ms. Danielle Vigilante joined Morris in developing the perfect way to implement the goals of the Sandy Hook Promise. Thus, "Say Something Week" was born.
On Monday, February 25th, students were able to earn several prizes during lunch periods by visiting the Say Something Booth and spinning the prize wheel. Their tasks were simple, all they had to do was answer questions that related to school violence and how this issue could be handled. In addition to winning prizes, students learned surprising, yet vital information.
On Tuesday, students were greeted by a selfie station during their lunch periods, where they could bring several friends to pose with a variety of props. In addition, English classes participated in the second Student Voice Project. This time, the topic was gun violence in schools. Each teacher was given the freedom to structure the class in whatever way they saw fit. However, the major topics remained consistent: What are the warning signs of a potentially troubled teenager? What can we do to prevent such tragedies? What are the school's procedures if something like that were to ever happen? What would we do in that situation?
Teachers took notes on students' answers, concerns, and discussions. These notes will be compiled and analyze by the Student Senate and presented to the administration. With the success and valuable insight gained from last year's Student Voice Project, Mr. Benvenuti and other administrators are eager to hear from students again.
Student Voice Projects are designed to influence future school policy and give students a voice in shaping their environment. “These kids who usually don’t engage in typical conversations in class were really passionate about this," said Vigilante. "It’s something that we can all relate to.”
Finally, students and staff were encouraged to where white and green cloths and apparel to spread awareness for the initiative.
“Walking through the hallways, I was hearing some kids talking about it,” stated Vigilante. “It was good to engage with students, which also helped them identify different warning signs or signals.”
It was imperative to Morris and Vigilante that this program help students feel safe in their surroundings. By initiating a program like this in the school community, they hoped to create an environment where the normal thing to do is to say something.
“Only now are kids realizing not to dismiss things that they are bombarded with every single day on social media," said Vigilante. "It’s everywhere around us, and we shouldn’t have to worry about any danger in school.”
Say Something Week is only the foundation of what can be expected in the future. Everyone in the Guidance Department agrees that this is something that must continue, and have hopes that this program will grow. The response from students reaffirms this sentiment. "Say Something Week really made me rethink, and feel more comfortable in school to speak out." Daniel Torres '19 stated.
At its heart, "Say Something Week" tried to break down a culture of silence in school. “Statistics show that in a majority of school shootings or suicides, someone knew something and didn’t have the will to speak up,” concluded Morris. “I want everyone to know that they can trust their school, and it's not snitching if you could potentially save a life."