Students from West End Elementary School and Lynbrook North and South middle schools recently celebrated the importance of inclusion with the Start With Hello program, sponsored by Sandy Hook Promise. The week-long program consisted of empowering activities and lessons to teach students to be more socially inclusive and connected. The week also was a prime example of how students are embracing the Lynbrook Public Schools’ 2019-2020 theme of the year, A Community of Caring.
During West End’s morning announcements, students gave tips on how to approach new students in the cafeteria or on the playground in a friendly way. Students were encouraged to say hello to someone new and fifth graders made sure no one sat alone unless they chose to. West End teachers were instrumental during the week as they played getting to know you games with their classes, read books highlighting different cultures and school dilemmas. The awareness about different cultures was integrated into West End’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration.
At Lynbrook North Middle School, a challenge was set for students each day during the week. Challenges included greeting a new student and making them feel included, writing a positive affirmation to a peer on a wall of positivity, doing a random act of kindness and sitting with someone who is alone. To end the week, North students enjoyed a photo booth outside of the cafeteria where they took photos with their new friends.
Similar activities were facilitated at Lynbrook South Middle School. Students kicked off the week with a three-minute Loving Kindness Meditation and wore name stickers as they were encouraged to say hello to new people in the hallways. Throughout the week, the students participated in unity games and activities to promote teamwork and inclusivity. They also enjoyed a photo booth with new friends, smile grams were sent to new students and field games were facilitated during lunch periods. Students were paired with a student they did not know and had fun playing games with the hopes of winning a prize.
The week allowed Lynbrook students to embrace new friendships, build a stronger school community and strengthen their understanding of empathy.