student and teacher working with letter tiles

Start With Hello Week

Monday, February 5, 2018
start with hello week
Students sip hot chocolate from cups
 emblazoned with inspirational messages

During the week of February 5–9, Landmark Elementary•Middle School students and faculty are participating in Start With Hello Week, part of the Sandy Hook Promise organization’s initiative to decrease social isolation and promote inclusion. It will be an event-packed week, with students engaging in a variety of activities that foster a sense of connectedness and display kindness and empathy.

At EMS, Start With Hello week will focus on building an inclusive community that decreases social isolation by "saying hello," making friends, embracing diversity, and reaching out to support each other with kindness in actions and words. EMS students are writing essays about their efforts to reach out to people who are feeling left out, lonely, or being treated as invisible and submitting them to the Student Voices Contest. Gun violence, school shootings, and self-harm will not be part of the conversation. 

"Start with Hello week is a relatively new event on the EMS calendar, an outgrowth of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. I hope it will be with us for a long time," said Rob Kahn, EMS Head of School. "As a combination elementary and middle school, and as a school with a specific mission for a specific population, Landmark EMS benefits in so many ways from a culture that emphasizes inclusion, kindness, and responsibility for everyone's positive experience. It's really all about extending ourselves without fear to others we spend the day with."

Sample of Events at EMS During Start with Hello Week 

  • Students will craft Valentine's cards for a nursing home
  • Students will be adding "leaves" to a "Kindness Tree" with random acts of kindness that they performed. 
  • At "mix it up" lunches students will sit with different people than usual. 
  • At morning meeting on Friday, teachers and students will thank each other for various acts of kindness, characteristics, etc. in "shout-outs." 

Sarah Turnbull, administrative assistant at EMS, organized Start With Hello Week two years ago. 

"I was inspired to bring it to Landmark because I think it's incredibly important to learn from a tragedy and create something positive from it," Turnbull said. "I hope that year after year we can not only build on Start With Hello week to continuously improve our Landmark community, but also give our students the tools to help build strong, supportive communities in other schools or environments where they may go after leaving Landmark or during the summertime."