You probably noticed the signs around the school last week, people taking pictures in the cafeteria, or the sticky-notes adorning each and every locker. This was all part of Peer Team’s “Start With Hello” initiative. The initiative is part of a larger program started by Sandy Hook promise, a non-profit founded by the parents and family members of students killed in the 2014 school shooting. According to a page on the group’s website, the Start With Hello program “enables students to make a difference with their peers in a simple, fun, and impactful way by encouraging them to take small but powerful actions to promote connectedness and inclusion, and to identify and help others who are showing signs of social isolation.”
Start With Hello week at Mt. Greylock began with compliment day on Tuesday, where sticky-notes carrying positive messages were plastered across the school. This was followed by make a new friend and take a picture on Wednesday, in which a backdrop of yellow and green hearts was put up for pictures in the cafeteria. Random acts of kindness took place on Thursday, when students got to carry out their own random acts of kindness by picking from a jar. Start With Hello week culminated on Friday with brighten someone’s day, when students were encouraged to wear yellow and green. Peer Team member Eva Myers suggested that the the transition into the new school year can be an especially hard time for all students, which is what made this such an opportune time for Start With Hello week: “since the first few weeks of school were a bit of a rough transition for everyone, Peer Team wanted to do something fun and engaging that would brighten up our school.” When asked which day had the most impact, Myers responded, “I think the day with the most positive feedback was the sticky note day. We had so many students spreading the notes around to others, and it made a lot of people’s days. We even had students ask if we can do it again!” Peer team was excited about the results of Start With Hello week, and is hoping to see positive long-term effects as well: “after seeing so many students and teachers giving compliments, or performing random acts of kindness, I have hope that this spirit week and the Start With Hello program will continue to have an impact on all of us. And hopefully our school community will continue to be kind and brighten up our school, even if it isn’t a designated spirit day,” says Myers.
As for the near future of Peer Team, Myers explains that “our Start With Hello spirit week is just the beginning of our plans this year. We’re looking into more initiatives that will help to keep the positive atmosphere at Mount Greylock, and hopefully you’ll be seeing some more of Peer Team soon.” A peer team sign, hung in the cafeteria, read “Let’s work together to make our school a better place. It is as simple as starting with hello.”