Dear Editor:

The Sandy Hook Promise Start with Hello week raises awareness about social isolation and educates students and the community on how to prevent it.  Start with Hello is just one program in the "Know the Signs" Programs offered by Sandy Hook Promise (SHP). 

Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and lead by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.

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Superintendent Dr. Joan Mast has informed me that in addition to the curriculum classroom exercises, there will be other Start will Hello activities starting next week, Sept. 23-27. So, parents and students let’s make Start with Hello week a memorable experience to get to know each other and support each other and build a stronger, united community, and protect our students from gun violence.

Please go to the Sandy Hook Promise Website and join the almost 4.5 million people who have taken the Sandy Hook Promise Pledge, “I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, school, and communities.”

Last year, I partnered with past Superintendent of Schools Dr. Margaret Hayes to introduce the Sandy Hook Promise “Start with Hello” program into the school curriculum. That was part of an overall school safety upgrade where at the request of the Dr. Hayes to then-Deputy Mayor Llewellen Jones and me that Scotch Plains Township dedicate one of our police officers to be the School Resource Officer (SRO) in the High School. 

The Scotch Plains Township Council and I also agreed at the request of Dr. Hayes to provide officers for the seven lower grade schools.  Thank you to the Scotch Plains Township Council for its bold action and thank you Chief Ted Conley for smoothly introducing these officers into the schools to help protect our children.

I am thrilled that Superintendent Dr. Mast reports that the Start with Hello program has been a success and other Sandy Hook Promise programs like the Save (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Promise Clubs are beginning to take root in the schools. 

Hope to see you at a Start with Hello school event.

Mayor Al Smith
Sandy Hook Promise Leader