During the week of Sept. 24-28, Timberwood Middle School students participated in activities to help bring awareness to and reduce social isolation and bullying on campus.
TMS students embraced the Sandy Hook Promise campaign, “Start with Hello.” This week-long project aimed at creating an inclusive campus environment. Students were greeted as they arrived on campus while getting off the buses, exiting cars and as they entered the doorways as part of “Start with Hello.”
“Our plan is to use the things that we’ve learned and make it a common theme on our campus the entire year,” said Jennifer Austin,
TMS 8th grade counselor. When asked if this would be an annual event, she replied, “We will continue to have activities that help reduce social isolation and bullying. The best thing about this is that it has been completely student led, and our counselors are only there as school sponsors who handle the paperwork and monitor the activities. This is important to our students and they truly believe that everyone should have a friend.”
Austin said that each day of the week the students had an individual challenge as well as activities that took place during their advisory class (or what they like to call den time).
The first day of the campaign was Monday, Sept. 24, which began with an Individual Challenge. The 8th grade football teams, 8th grade volleyball teams, members of Student Council, NJHS members, members of Kindness Kounts Club, and Den Ambassadors (classroom leaders who were voted to represent their advisory classes) were challenged to learn to say “Hello” and to introduce themselves in as many different languages as they could, then practice in class and in the hallway.
“I actually like to say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Have a good day” often,’ said 8th grader Kandace Waller.
Tuesday’s Den Activity was for students to add to or create a Wall of Positivity or No Hate Zone in their den’s hallway, and leave positive notes of affirmation for others on sticky notes. The individual challenge for Tuesday was Nobody Eats Alone Today! Students were to sit with someone at lunch who normally sits alone or invite them to sit with them and their friends. They were to also try it on their bus.
Wednesday’s den activity was to partner with another advisory or den and hold a human bingo, human scavenger hunt, or speed friending activity. The individual challenge that day was to compliment their friends and people that they don’t know.
On Thursday, each den or advisory class was responsible for creating an original art piece that can be submitted to the SWHW Student Voices contest. The Individual Challenge was to write an encouraging note to their teachers, and let them know they are doing a good job and that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
The den activity on Friday was reflection or den talk: have a discussion about how to keep the positivity going throughout the year; have a selfie day and keep it going! On selfie day, students were to take selfies beside their posters, Positivity Wall, etc., and share pics on TMS/Humble ISD social media using #StartWithHello.
Friday’s den class challenge was to wear green. They determined which den had the most participation Friday, and the den with the most students wearing green shirts earned a party the following week.
“We have been using Twitter all week to recognize our students for their efforts in the campaign,” Austin said, adding that they have worked very hard. “Giving our students the opportunity to lead the activities creates more buy-in from the student body. Allowing our students to lead these types of activities, not only creates awareness to end bullying and social isolation, but it also creates student leaders who motivate others to become better students who treat their peers with dignity and respect.”
The Sandy Hook Promise National Campaign stems from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between 6-and-7 years old, as well as six adult staff members. Prior to driving to the school, he shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home.
Timberwood Middle School is registered with the Sandy Hook Promise Campaign online.
Their sponsors, in addition to Austin, are Lori Shortis and Dalila Nichols, 7th and 6th grade counselors, respectively.