By Emari Jorden and Ezri Mayeri
Students and staff organized the second annual Start with Hello Week event at Albany High School. The national week is designed to address social isolation in schools after a group of concerned parents tried to find solutions that would prevent school violence.
“Start with Hello Week was started by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. It is a non-profit run by families who have been impacted by school violence,” said social studies teacher Mariflorence Hudson, who organized the week at AHS. “However, Start with Hello week is about building a sense of community in schools and decreasing social isolation. It hopes that the activities in this one week can lead to friendships.”
At Albany High, Start with Hello Week encouraged students to start conversations and build comradery in the student body. Some of the daily events prompted students to say hello, give compliments, and hang out with new people at lunch. On Friday, students and staff wore green to promote awareness of social isolation.
Ms. Hudson saw the week as an opportunity to create a sense of community.
“I think it has a positive impact,” Ms. Hudson said. “I think we all get busy in our own lives and forget to look around and see who might benefit from some attention. Or we even fail to notice someone that we would be friends with but just haven't had an opportunity to talk with before.”
The week ended with a welcome lunch for students transitioning into a new school community at Albany. Ms. Hudson and English teacher Hannah Edber organized a lunch for new students at AHS.
“The atmosphere at the new student luncheon was very upbeat,” Ms. Hudson said. “We had almost 50 kids attend. They did seem eager to get to know each other. It was a fun time, and I would definitely want to do this again in the future.”
Organizing and publicizing Start With Hello week was difficult because this is only the second year for the event. Ms. Hudson emphasized changes for next year in order for it to be more effective.
“I really think we need more publicity and organization. It is tough because it is new to Albany High and it comes at the beginning of the year, but I do think we have the heart and the willingness to make it bigger and better.”