Green Spirit Week

Hiram G. Andrews Center students walk past a “Start With Hello” yard sign posted along Goucher Street on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

Yard signs saying “Start With Hello” appeared all over the West Hills area over the past few days. The reason: a Westmont School District initiative called Green Spirit Week.

Beginning Monday, the district started celebrating the “importance of kindness and the impact of the Start with Hello and Say Something programs in our local area,” superintendent Thomas Mitchell said.

To kick off the events, teachers and faculty said “hello” to students in different languages Monday morning.

Each day of the week is associated with a different activity.

Throughout the week, students and faculty are asked to be a good sport, take selfies wearing something green, post messages of kindness and write about love in the #Chalkaboutlove campaign that will last the entire month.

Students at the elementary school are celebrating slightly differently. Tuesday, the students participated in “Make a Friend Day,” where kindergarten through second grade attended a puppet show on diversity and grades third through sixth created positive notes to display in school. 

On Wednesday, the elementary students wore green and SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Promise Club students went to the building, along with first responders, to partake in the “No One Eats Alone” day.

“This week is a week to just celebrate the mission of the work that has been started and continue the mission of SAVE Promise Club, parent liaisons and administrators,” said Lynn Clement, high school principal and Safe Schools prevention committee chairwoman. 

This is the first year for the Green Spirit Week and Clement said the parents in the district deserve all of the credit because they’re the ones who pushed for this.

Two years ago, Westmont implemented the Safe Schools committee in response to the Parkland, Florida, shooting. The work of the committee was broken into two subcommittees: prevention and protection. The subcommittees are made up of parents, Westmont administrators, teachers, staff and community partners.

At this same time, the district became a Sandyhook Promise School and implemented the Start With Hello and Say Something programs, according to Mitchell.

All of this culminated in the Green Spirit Week, school officials said.

Clement explained that the district is hoping for “continued awareness that kindness matters and all students deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” Additionally, she said school safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“It starts with ‘hello’ and if you see something, say something,” Clement stated.

Just a few days in, there is already a noticeable difference in the students.

Clement explained that when the teachers and staff greeted them Monday morning, they were surprised by the different languages and could be heard discussing the campaign already.

“When school, home and community work together, we can accomplish great things,” Clement said. 

“The work of the prevention committee is dedicated to address students social and emotional needs in addition to their academics.”

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh. 

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