House Creek Elementary combats student isolation

By SABRINA RIVERA 
Special to Leader-Press 

Bonjour! Hola! Hujambo! Ni-Hau! Aloha! Hello!  Start With Hello Week is a movement sponsored by the Sandy Hook Promise organization which was started by loved ones and family members of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. 
The movement targets social isolation and teaches students the signs and signals to look for in their peers and encourages them to reach out and intervene to any student they see who may be feeling separated from his peers.
The students participated in a variety of different activities throughout the week that encouraged them to interact with others outside of their normal social circles and get out of their comfort zones.
Fifth grader Madison Bogard enjoyed making new friends in her school of nearly 700 students.
“My favorite activity we did was sitting with other people during lunch because we got to talk with other people we normally don’t get to,” Bogard said.
The students signed banners pledging to reach out to others, wore name tags to greet each other by name, participated in a Mix-It-Up Lunch that allowed them to sit with students with which they normally don’t have the opportunity, and learned how to say hello in several different languages.
Lauren Hooten, school counselor said House Creek Elementary was honored to pilot the important initiative for CCISD.  
“Our students and staff really had a lot of fun participating in the various activities that went on all week and I was very impressed with the students I saw going out of their way to say ‘hello’ and make a positive change,” Hooten said.
Marquees across the community supported the effort by placing Cove Starts With Hello on their marquees.  
“The students loved being able to ride around town and see the community supporting what they are doing at school and it sparked conversations with their families about the events going on and the premise behind it,” Hooten said.
The staff wore Start With Hello shirts and the students wore the color green and Start With Hello bracelets to show their support.  
“While social isolation is not a major problem seen at the elementary level, introducing the students to the topic and exposing them to strategies to intervene early could potentially save a life in the future,” Hooten said.  

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