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Danbury High Wins State Award For Anti-Violence Campaign

Mark Barden, father of a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, embraces the student leaders at Danbury High School who brought the "Say Something" campaign to the school.
Mark Barden, father of a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, embraces the student leaders at Danbury High School who brought the "Say Something" campaign to the school. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa, file

DANBURY, Conn. -- Danbury High School was chosen by the State Student Advisory Council on Education and the Commissioner of Education as a “2016 Challenge to Educational Citizenship Award” statewide winner for its anti-violence campaign.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, Superintendent Sal Pascarella implemented “Say Something” and “Start with Hello,” programs from Sandy Hook Promise that focus on preventing violence, suicide and fear-inducing threats before they happen.

Danbury High School kicked off “Say Something” with a live video stream in September followed by a call-to-action week.

“Say Something” instructs students in grades 6-12 how to look for warning signs, signals and threats, particularly in social media, from an individual who may be threatening to hurt themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult to get help.

Sandy Hook Promise is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in a mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school in December 2012.

As part of the program, student peer leaders from the school, under the guidance of Susan Schullery, peer leadership-educator and business teacher at the high school led “Say Something” activities at the district elementary schools with the help of 30 volunteers from Jericho Partnership, a Danbury organization dedicated to serving the at-risk community.

“Start with Hello,” which began in late January, addresses social isolation, a growing epidemic in schools across the country and refers to the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely and treated as being invisible, according to school officials.

The programs are easy to implement through flexible classroom format, school assembly or by student ambassadors. The programs also can be incorporated into an existing student club or by creating a new club that focuses on community kindness and safety.

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