Start With Hello bridges the gap at CHS

By JOSHUA CAMPBELL,

Columbia High School students have been making an effort this week to step outside of their comfort zones to bridge the gaps social circles create. 

The SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Promise Club, which has more than 90 members at CHS, worked diligently to host Sandy Hook Promise’s Start With Hello Call to Action. SAVE sponsor and health teacher Toni Floyd said the national SAVE club teamed up with Sandy Hook Promise to reach isolated students and encourage students to have conversations with people outside of their cliques.

“Those parents who lost children wanted to bring awareness to people who are isolated and students who don’t have friends. They started this program called Start With Hello. We have a whole week of it here, and it’s nationwide with schools who are a part of the SAVE club,” she said.

The SAVE club began on Monday by going into classrooms to teach the Start With Hello concept. Floyd said there are three steps: see someone alone, reach out to them and start with hello.

On Tuesday the club had an activity that taught students the difference between empathy and sympathy to encourage students to reach out and act. Students then signed pledge cards to work on improving empathy within themselves. For example one pledge card read: “I want to talk to more people I don’t know and make new friends.” Another said: “I promise to say more positive things. I promise to be nicer. I promise to ignore negativity.”

Wednesday saw students write smile notes to one another with heartfelt messages. All of the work culminated into Thursday’s event. CHS 10th-grader Marcedes Lowe described the concept of the final Start With Hello event.

“You grab somebody you don’t know, start a conversation and then you can come up to the table to get a Popsicle. Then you keep getting people. When you see somebody by themselves, you start with hello,” she said.

Students mingled with one another, danced along to music and enjoyed Popsicles in the hot summer air. The kindness and generosity even branched as far out as a student approaching a reporter taking pictures of the event and offering a Popsicle.

Pictured Above: Columbia High School student Ma'Kia Lewis dances with biology teacher and assistant football coach Brandon Thompson Thursday afternoon during SAVE club's Start With Hello program. | Photo by Joshua Campbell