students signing a poster

Students sign the "We Will Start With Hello" pledge during their lunch periods.

To help foster a positive and welcoming culture, Moriches Elementary School recently held “Start with Hello Week,” a campaign that raises awareness about social isolation and educates students on how to recognize it in their peers and make a difference in simple, fun and impactful ways.

As part of the “Start with Hello” campaign, the school welcomed officers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office earlier this school year to discuss knowing the signs of isolation and how to reach out to others to ensure that no one feels lonely while in school or eats lunch alone.

A photo of students and teacher standing in front of a poster

School counselor Amanda Dubinsky with students by the "We Will Start With Hello" pledge.

“We were very excited to work together with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s to incorporate ‘Start With Hello’ at Moriches Elementary School,” said Deirdre Redding, principal, Moriches Elementary School. “The message of this initiative is to spread awareness about social isolation while promoting inclusion among all students in our school community. Sometimes the smallest gesture or act of kindness can change a person’s day and life. This is an important practice to put in place at a young age with the hopes that it will continue through the years as our students grow older.”

As part of the call to action and putting into practice what they have been learning, Moriches Elementary School’s “Start With Hello Week” encouraged student participation in various activities with each day focused on something each person can do to help others feel welcomed.

The week kicked off in an amazing way with Ms. Dubinsky and deputy sheriffs welcoming students to school holding up positive and encouraging signs.

Then during their lunch periods throughout the week, students had the opportunity to sign a kindness pledge, were able to be the “I” in kind as part of a student-created mural, and had a blast participating in specially-themed days including Hey Day – wearing name tags and saying hello to people they don’t know, performing random acts of kindness, wearing bright or neon colored clothing to “spread kindness like confetti,” wearing crazy socks to “sock it to isolation” and wearing green to signify growing together and the official color of the non-profit organization Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that strives to prevent atrocities like that of Newtown, CT, on December 14, 2012.

“This week was designed to help students take small but powerful actions to promote connectedness and inclusion, and to identify and help lonely students who are showing signs of social isolation,” said Amanda Dubinsky, school counselor, Moriches Elementary School, who spearheaded the effort.

Additional photos from throughout the week are available in the album below!

Moriches Elementary School - Start with Hello

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