Gurney Elementary School second-grader Zayne Hamid, 7, of Chagrin Falls holds up teacher Jillian Langer’s poem and an illustration he made for one of his “Start with Hello Week” activities. During the month of October, Gurney Elementary School and the Chagrin Falls Middle School celebrated “Start with Hello Week” to uphold the Sandy Hook Promise to reach out to others.

Schools ‘Start with Hello’

Throughout October, Chagrin Falls Middle School and Gurney Elementary School participated in “Start With Hello Week,” a week organized by Sandy Hook Promise that focuses on reaching out to others, especially those who may be isolated. It encourages students to look for signs of loneliness and social isolation and then works with them to reach out, the simplest way being to say hello.

Chagrin Falls Middle School has celebrated “Start With Hello Week” for the past five years. The school organized video presentations for students, who then completed several tasks. Students also created messages that are now posted around the school that commit to ways they will reach out to others. They sent positive emails to other students and staff and also made cards for residents at Hamlet so the message can extend to the community. Students and staff were also able to nominate someone who has made a difference to them by reaching out, and the school raffled off a few winners for some small prizes.

“I really love this program and its message because it’s so simple yet so important,” said Counselor Kyle Patterson. “It reminds us all that we can make a difference to others through our everyday actions, sometimes just by smiling and saying hello.”

At Gurney Elementary School, this is the first year the students and staff have participated. Activities in each grade level included literacy lessons, social studies activities, discussions, videos, books and art projects.

“We know how vital relationships are to students’ overall health and wellbeing and what a positive impact these connections have on their success,” said Assistant Principal Sarah Read, who is coordinating the program.

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