BMS recognized again by Sandy Hook Promise

By Savanna Gregg
Burnet Bulletin

Once again, Burnet Middle School has been recognized by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation for its work to prevent school violence and bullying.

This month, Burnet Middle School was named the “Say Something Week Community Reach and Sustainability Winner” by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. The school was given this award in recognition of all the work students and educators did in spreading awareness of recognizing signs of depression and self-harming throughout 2017.

In February 2017, the Burnet Middle School Interact Group became involved with the Start With Hello program, implemented by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. The foundation was established in 2015 by family members of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Sandy Hook Promise is dedicated to teaching students, teachers, administrators, and parents ways to support and encourage their peers, in turn reducing the risk of depression, bullying, and violence.

In the summer of 2017, Interact coordinator Sara Te and two of her students were invited to Washington, D.C., to speak at the Sandy Hook Promise gala, where they were recognized for the impact they made on students and the community. But they did not stop there.

During the week of Oct. 16, 2017, students participated in assemblies and activities revolving around suicide and self-harm awareness as part of the Say Something program, a movement similar to the Start with Hello program they participated in in February.

“It was sponsored by the Interact club at the middle school, which is the youth branch of the Rotary Club,” Te said. “Interact officers completely led the assembly for each grade.”

Students participated in activities, watched educational videos on how to “say something,” and decided who their trusted adult would be should they need to tell someone about a friend or peer that may be having trouble.

“They were encouraged to write down who their trusted adult would be, and then tell them 'you're my trusted adult, so I am going to tell you',” Te said.

Burnet Middle School will also be the only small school in the United States to pilot the new “Say Something App,” a feature that allows students to anonymously report concerns about their peers.

The group's determination and hard work has repeatedly attracted the attention of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, and their most recent award reflects how they have sustained the program throughout the past year, continuing to impact students, parents, educators, and the community as a whole.

“The community was amazing with embracing the Start With Hello program,” Te said. “It's nice for the students to see that it's not just the school — the community is behind them.”

This year, the group has bigger plans, hoping to expand the program and spread awareness to other schools.

“We plan to invite other student leaders from other area schools to come and do a workshop with us,” Te said.

In light of receiving the “Say Something Week Community Reach and Sustainability” award, the Interact group was invited to and received a $500 travel stipend for a youth summit in North Carolina that will take place in April of this year. The group is planning on fundraising for their trip to cover travel expenses so they will be able to expand their knowledge and outreach for a cause so important in today's society.

“The students were the reason we got this award,” Te said. “They put a lot into this, and it is a great opportunity for experience.”

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