Fostering a Connected School Community

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Students at Lynbrook South Middle School and West End Elementary School recently participated in Start with Hello Week, a national event organized by Sandy Hook Promise to teach students to be more socially inclusive and connected to each other and the community.

During the week, middle school students participated in an array of different activities to promote inclusion. To kick off the week, students lined the hallways to greet their peers as they entered the building for the day and each received a sticker with their name on it to wear all day. The week continued with activities such as Human Bingo in physical education class to help students get acquainted with one another, a photo booth to enjoy with new friends and peers, a game called All My Friends to learn about others’ interests and a three legged race. 

“The goal of Start With Hello Week is to teach kids how to approach and engage someone they don’t know well or just met,” said Principal Joseph Wiener. “Through games, challenges and conversations throughout the week, we are giving children tools to strengthen our community by being more inclusive. We watched students throughout the week talking, playing, and laughing with kids they may not have otherwise engaged with. We will continue this effort through our Social and Emotional Literacy initiative throughout the year.” 

Students at West End Elementary School also embraced the week with their own activities. Students learned how to make a difference with their peers in simple, fun and impactful ways. 

“A goal of this week is to empower students to create a culture of inclusiveness and connectedness,” said West End social worker Sandra Gettenberg. “We want to make sure that all students feel seen, accepted and safe.”

Teachers focused on how to recognize and reduce social isolation by having their classes participate in ice-breaker activities. Others read books filled with learning opportunities to help foster inclusivity in school and some students learned how to say hello in languages other than English.