Hope prevails amidst pandemic


Alyssa Martin

Kindness Club paints rocks for the HOPE Squad in an attempt to boost morale for appreciated advisers.

Hope Squad members returned to the school with new ideas for promoting the importance of mental health to both online and in-person students, taking on the difficult challenge of finding more convenient connections.

“It is more important now than ever to promote the importance of mental health,” lead advisor Lisa DeBord said. “And the need to end the stigma surrounding mental health and getting help.”

In March, Hope Squad focused their work on Sharing Hope From Home, a guided list describing how Squad members could take care of others by taking care of themselves, and how they could support their peers while being outside of school. The list included tips such as deep breathing, discussing personal stressors with trusted friends and family, as well as recognizing what language on social media could be signs of crisis from peers and the importance of spending time with them in-person.

Squad members took to spreading hope during quarantine by primarily beginning with self-care.

“I made sure any ideas I shared, I was also practicing,” junior member Declan Alford said. “Not only just to make sure how well they worked for me personally, because obviously, there’s different things that work for everyone. But also like I said, I come first too; I want to help people, but I can’t help you if I’m not in the right mental spot.”

At the first meeting of this year’s Hope Squad, DeBord shared that the Squad has come up with many ideas for the rest of the semester. They began with inspirational messages on student and staff cars and the Take What You Need post-it notes in the main hallway to start spreading hope.

“Students have an abundance of great ideas planned for this school year to bring positivity during a pandemic,” DeBord said. “We are planning Hope Squad videos and activities for an advisory week at the end of November. The squad has a Christmas gift we are making for the staff.”

DeBord said Hope Squad is planning to have “a lot more presence on social media than in the past years,” including an increase in Instagram and Twitter posts. The members agree that reaching out to friends and peers through social media and texting is a must-have for the Squad.

“I’d definitely try to put out Hope Squad more email-wise,” sophomore Squad member Narek Gasparyan said. ”or on the televisions we have in school saying like, who are the members, what grade they’re in, where you can find them, and I think those will definitely help out more.”

Quarantined kids are isolated from their friends, which can cause harmful changes to their mental health.

“I think just making sure they [online peers] are known; they aren’t forgotten,” Alford said. “They aren’t left behind, it’s just making sure [to tell them], I remember you. I care about you. How is your day? Stuff like that does go a long way.”

Based on the Student Climate Survey taken by seventh through 12th graders back in late September, most students have different tools and abilities to deal with stressors in their lives. However, the survey revealed students felt that their school is neither teaching nor neglecting coping skills, most likely due to the lack of communication between the school and students.

“I think that any coping skills that we have (this school year),” Kings’ Social and Emotional Health Coordinator Kim Sellers said. “We lost momentum [with], because everyone was home. And everyone was stressed and everyone was socially isolated; I feel like we’re kind of starting all over again.”

To counteract this lack of communication and find additional help, DeBord recommends the Hope Squad website found on the Kings High School page under “Student Services”. They can also be found on Instagram @khs.hope or on Twitter @KingsHopeSquad. For extreme emergencies where adults can’t be reached, Sellers also suggested the Warren County Crisis Hotline or Crisis Text Line, which can both be found in the “Need Help?” section of the Hope Squad website.

“The way Hope Squad helped out last year, whenever we still had school, was that people would reach out to us members,” Gasparyan said. “During quarantine, I don’t think we did much because there wasn’t much to do to get the word out. But that didn’t mean we still couldn’t help out. All the teachers in the Hope Squad would send out emails saying that we were able to contact them, and there are always people who do contact them, so I’m sure [the teachers] helped out that way.”

Additionally, the Squad looks forward to hearing from the students and possibly gaining their perspectives on fun activities the school can hold, safely, to promote togetherness.

“Because the end goal is just making sure I just brighten up someone’s day a little bit or make sure like, they have someone they can talk to if they need it. Just like if there’s like someone that has a good idea that help them, we want to do that,” Alford said.