Start with Hello Week Strengthens PV Community
11 October 2019
From September 23-27, PV held Start with Hello Week with the intent of raising awareness for those who may feel isolated throughout the school day. Students were encouraged to reach out and "say hello" to their peers, who they may not know, in order to create a stronger sense of community in our school.
Start with Hello Week is a program sponsored by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation that was started by the parents of students who lost children in the tragedy of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The objective of Start with Hello Week is to prevent any further acts of violence in schools. This was the first Start with Hello Week at Passaic Valley; however, the school has been involved with Sandy Hook Promise since last February.
Guidance counselor Ms. Danielle Vigilante explains that the ultimate goal of Start with Hello Week was "to create a strong sense of community at Passaic Valley and to get all students involved... and to just be aware of reaching out to one another."
At the beginning of the week, freshmen students met their mentors who are a select group of juniors and seniors. Mentors are paired with a group of freshmen in order to guide them through their first year in high school. Next, on Tuesday, all students were urged to perform random acts of kindness. On Wednesday, students wore green and white to show their PV pride. Thursday was No One Eats Alone Day. The goal was to look for those who may be socially isolated and make them feel more included. Friday was Diversity Day, which allowed students to express who they are, where they come from, and emphasized the diversity of the PV community. They were encouraged to wear colors that represented their nationalities and cultural backgrounds.
In addition, students who signed up to participate in Start with Hello Week sat at tables during lunch periods, speaking to their fellow classmates and encouraging them to take part in Start with Hello Week as well.
Overall, Start with Hello Week was a success. Ms. Kelly Morris, Student Assistance Coordinator, says she wants kids who may feel isolated or are struggling to make friends to know that they have "guidance counselors, myself as the SAC, the Teen Center, teachers they trust, and the nurse's office." Ms. Morris' overall message to students is that, "There's support in this building if they need to talk about what's going on."