South Orangetown Central School District

Over the next several weeks, South Orangetown schools will partner with hundreds of other schools nationwide for “Start With Hello,” a Sandy Hook Promise initiative to promote an inclusive school culture.

Although typically a one-week annual event, schools are extending “Start With Hello” so that all in-person students may participate. Planned activities include themed days, announcements, mini-lessons, exercises and readings which provide students with opportunities to practice kindness, empathy and respect.

Elementary School Counselor Stephanie Mueller developed this year’s program for William O. Schaefer Elementary School and Cottage Lane Elementary School. “Each day, there will be a school spirit theme to promote inclusion and show support for students who exhibit signs of loneliness. Talking points for morning meetings will be one way that our teachers and staff reinforce the importance of being kind and including others.”

“Our goal is to create awareness around social inclusivity. We want all middle schoolers to feel welcomed and included in everything we do,” said South Orangetown Middle School Assistant Principal Joseph Onativia. “Feelings of loneliness and isolation may be particularly acute during these difficult times. Through daily announcements, activities, videos, pictures, and of course, starting conversations with ‘hello,’ we’re focused on providing students with the confidence and cues to help others and brighten their day!”

Tappan Zee High School is exploring a full-day approach to “Start with Hello.” “We understand that the last six months have been challenging for our students and we want them to know that we’re here to support them,” explained Assistant Principal Melissa Luciano. “As we continue to build a socially inclusive learning environment at TZHS, we’re educating our students on ways to connect with their peers and develop the skills that contribute to a culture of kindness and inclusion. “

Check out our school social media feeds to see how our students and staff “Start With Hello”:

  • WOS and CLE: September 21-October 2
  • SOMS: September 23-25 and September 29-October 1
  • TZHS: October 8 and October 15