It’s Say Something Week at J. Taylor Finley Middle School and across the country. The goal? To keep everyone safe while providing help to anyone who needs it. The week seeks to empower students to “know the signs” and learn how to prevent violence in schools.
Say Something Week is an initiative of Sandy Hook Promise, an organization committed to “creating a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence and other harmful acts in schools.”
School-wide assemblies allowed Finley seventh and eighth graders to learn how to recognize warning signs and threats; how to act immediately and take situations seriously and how to bring the matter to a trusted adult by “saying something.”
“The Sandy Hook Promise offers valuable programs that have proven successful with students at all grade levels,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “We are pleased to introduce the Say Something program at Finley. It is important for students to recognize the importance of their voices and their open communication with trusted adults.”
Huntington UFSD’s Director of Safety and Security Jarrett Stein said the ultimate goal is to “reduce violence, threats and tragic consequences and create safer schools.”
The Finley students were an attentive audience for the presentations. Students learned what a threat looks and sounds like and where these signs are likely to be found. The seventh and eighth graders learned strategies to take action and overcome the barriers that may exist to being an “upstander” rather than a “bystander.”
“The program taught the students and teachers to act immediately and take any potential threat seriously,” Mr. Stein said. “It explained how to have those conversations with an adult the students’ trust and provided examples of who those trusted adults may be.”
Sandy Hook Promise is an outgrowth of the December 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 people dead, including 20 schoolchildren and six faculty and staff members.
“Say Something Week is a national call-to-action week to celebrate students being ‘upstanders’ in schools and communities by speaking up when noticing warning signs and threats of potential violence,” according to the Sandy Hook Promise website. “Thousands of schools and youth organizations from across the United States participate in Say Something Call to Action Week.”
The Say Something program complements Finley’s existing social and emotional learning initiative.
“Say Something teaches students how to recognize warning signs and prevent someone from harming themselves or others,” according to Sandy Hook Promise. “Students build essential SEL competencies, including how to empathize with others and seek help when needed (relationship skills). Students also learn how to identify problems and analyze situations as well solve problems in an ethically responsible manner (responsible decision-making).”
The two assembly programs gave students, teachers and support staff members plenty to discuss back in their classrooms over the coming weeks.