BY ISABELLA MARCON
One of the main priorities of all schools is to unify students and to make them feel included. At CCHS, a week-long program called Start with Hello will be implemented during the school year.
Start with Hello is a program run by the Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) organization. The program’s roots go back to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Its purpose is to prevent the isolation of students from social groups and other common high school cliques.
SHP is a national, non-profit organization led by several of the family members whose loved ones were lost in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their Start with Hello initiative includes programs to assist students with social learning, as well as programs on how to bridge cultural divides.
The Start with Hello program aims to address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from using firearms to hurt themselves or others. The program’s mission is to aid in the prevention of gun violence as well as other forms of violence and victimization by educating people to identify, intervene and get help for at-risk individuals.
The Start with Hello program aims to address the “human side” of gun violence.
The program brings light to the increasing epidemic of social isolation. Social isolation can cause an individual to feel overwhelmingly lonely or left out. Those who feel this way can struggle with learning and social development, and, eventually, stray away from society or choose to hurt themselves or others.
By raising awareness about social isolation, the program plans to educate students and the community on how to prevent the issue through a week of training, advertising, activities, public proclamations, media events, student contests and school awards.
With the assistance of Career and Success Advisor Mrs. Ramirez, a group of club leaders, two being from Model United Nations (MUN) and Latinos in Action (LIA), are working on bringing the program to CCHS.
“I think this initiative has the potential to spark a change within our school culture.”
“I think this initiative has the potential to spark a change within our school culture,” MUN President David Lee said. “Our school tends to be very exclusive as most of us have known each other since elementary school. I think the Start with Hello Week will encourage people to take the initiative to approach others.”
Although the Cooper City community may leave some to feel secluded, language and cultural barriers are also a source of social isolation at CCHS.
Cooper City has a diverse population of students, many of whom have cultural backgrounds from other countries, and may even speak English as a second language. Start with Hello Week is a way to reach out to these students and bridge national origin and language barriers.
“Every single effort made to talk with someone who is struggling to fit in will have an effect on their lives.”
“I experienced it [social isolation] myself,” LIA President Avril Matute said. “Adapting to a completely new life was challenging, but spending the majority of the time in school alone made it worse. Back then, a simple ‘hello’ or a smile would’ve made a big difference.”
Individuals at CCHS will be able to meet and interact with students beyond the normal comfort zone of their social groups.
“Every single effort made to talk with someone who is struggling to fit in will have an effect on their lives,” sophomore Madalina Bulat said. “It shows [that] they’re not alone and is a great way to meet new people.”
The dates for Start with Hello Week have not yet been announced by CCHS. The students have been advised that the week will be scheduled this school year. Start with Hello provides a unique opportunity for all students to reach out and get to know one another on a personal level without regard to what language they speak, how long they have been at CCHS or what country of origin they are from.
Photo by Genna Nordling