Hope for Lake Ridge

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Lake Ridge will be starting a program to help students who are going through emotional challenges.

Lilianne Asokwah, ENN Staff

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer suicide prevention club founded by Dr. Gregory A. Hundall, a high school principal from Provo, Utah. He decided to start this organization after having to identify a student who had taken his life. Dr. Hundall swore to do everything in his ability to prevent another student from taking their own life, which is how Hope Squad was founded. Recently, Principal, Mrs. Ashley Alloway, has started a chapter of this club here at Lake Ridge.

Students were selected for this club through peer nominations. Students who were nominated multiple times were then admitted into the program. The staff in charge of this process did their very best to include students from various backgrounds, races, and extracurricular activities. Sophomore, Anna Tomlinson, believes she got nominated due to her compassionate nature.

“I think I got nominated because I enjoy helping out others and specifically with some of my friends. I always offer to listen if they ever need something to talk about. I think people probably just saw me as someone they could confide in,” said Tomlinson.

The Hope Squad will organize and be involved in various activities throughout the school year, including their most notable one: Hope Week. Hope Week involves activities such as dress up days, fun activities, and other activites to make every student feel a sense of kindness. Faculty sponsored, Amanda Mitchell, is looking forward to starting these events next year.

“The goal for next year is to really get kicked-off and have our members trained in what we call ‘QPR’ and to also go through a curriculum. We’re going to have a Hope Week next year and then we’re going to have monthly events, just to make suicidal prevention become more of a conversation for us to have,” stated Mitchell.

The program has already been started in middle schools throughout the district of Mansfield, and is just now being established in high schools. Although it’s late in the year, the Lake Ridge Hope Squad strives to have a Hope Day, this school year, to spread kindness and hope throughout the school. Tomlinson is looking forward to planning the day.

“We did talk about a Hope Day at our very first meeting, so I’m looking forward to putting stuff together for that. I’m also just looking forward to creating events that make students feel welcomed and like they’re in a very inclusive environment,” stated Tomlinson.

Sophomore, Hannah Le, is looking forward to bringing the student body together.

“I’m looking forward to increasing the interconnections of our student body. I feel like sometimes there are borders drawn where some students feel like they need to keep to themselves and they can’t express themselves or speak about their feelings. Through Hope Squad the members can reach out to more students and feel more connected to the school,” said Le. 

As a group, the squad hopes to leave an optimistic and positive impact on Lake Ridge. Through having students that other students can rely on, it’s proven that this significantly drops suicide rates among students. Tomlinson hopes to be a shoulder for other students who may be struggling.

“I’m really looking forward to making a difference at school. I hope to help students out mentally, because I know it can be a stressful place, so just making it a better environment is what I’m looking forward to. The goal of Hope Squad is really just to make students feel like they can have someone to talk to if they’re ever having struggles,” said Tomlinson.

The Squad will be an active force in the school and the student body. Members, like Le, will be actively involved in the student body, helping them to make better decisions. 

“Through the training that we’ll receive, we can help drive students in the right direction. To look more at all the good things going for them, instead of looking at all the negative things and the roadblocks that come every once in a while,” said Le.

Sophomore, Gracian Sieni, agrees with Tomlinson’s sentiment about what Hope Squad will do for the student body.

“It will help most students talk about their mental health because I feel like it’s easier to talk to a student instead of going to a counselor because that can be awkward. I feel like they’ll be more willing to open up if they’re struggling with something, and then from there they can go to a counselor for help,” stated Sieni.

Amanda Mitchell, AP Government and Politics teacher and Hope Squad sponsor, is confident in the positive effect the organization will have on Lake Ridge along with the students involved.

“Hope Squad is going to build a group of students that can come together and have a common bond,  and then really go out and be sources, not just at our school but in the community,” said Mitchell.