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Danbury Students ‘Start With Hello’ This School Year

Danbury Superintendent of Schools Sal Pascarella
Danbury Superintendent of Schools Sal Pascarella Photo Credit: Contributed

DANBURY, Conn. — The Danbury Public Schools will be implementing two programs this school year designed to create a safer, healthier school climate—and maybe even save student lives.

Sal Pascarella, Danbury superintendent and president of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, has implemented “Say Something” and “Start with Hello.”

The two programs from Sandy Hook Promise focus on preventing violence, suicide and fear-inducing threats before they happen.

Danbury High School kicked off “Say Something” with a live video stream Sept. 15 in preparation for the week of an Oct. 19 call to action. “Say Something” instructs students in grades 6 through 12 how to look for warning signs, signals and threats, particularly in social media, from individual who may be threatening to hurt themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult to get help.

“While schools remain one of the safest places for young people within our communities, we are not immune to violence, suicides and threats,” said Pascarella. “While no one program can fix the violence and resulting school safety and climate issues we all face, programs like Say Something and Start with Hello will help us make progress.”

“Start with Hello” addresses social isolation and refers to the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely and treated as invisible.

Research indicates that excessive feelings of isolation can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior. This program teaches students in grades 2 through 12 skills necessary to reach out and include those who may be dealing with chronic isolation. It empowers students to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness within their school.

Pascarella has also encouraged implementation of the programs at schools across Connecticut. School districts are invited to join statewide call-to-action weeks with schools from across the country. “Start with Hello” call-to-action week begins Jan. 25, 2016.

Pascarella said 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 in a new club that focuses on community kindness and safety.

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