Coming soon to WCSD middle schools: Hope Squad

Story and photo courtesy of the Westerville City School District – 

JAN. 12, 2024 – Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program that has been in place at all high schools for three years, is launching at the district’s middle schools starting this fall.

Over the coming weeks, Jessie Martin, the district’s Director of Student Well-Being, will be presenting to middle school staff members about Hope Squad, what to expect and what the role of an advisor entails, helping schools identify their Hope Squad advisor teams.

In March, schools will start the nomination process with current sixth- and seventh-graders for an inaugural group of 20 to 30 Hope Squad student leaders at each middle school.

District leaders had envisioned bringing the Hope Squad program to the middle schools when it was first introduced to the district. After building the program at the high schools since 2021, Martin said the time was right to expand to grades 6 through 8.

“We feel like it’s a well-oiled machine as far as knowing the curriculum,” she said. “Students are in the flow of what the expectations are, and advisors are comfortable and confident with the lessons and meetings. With all the knowledge we have, it’s time to bring it to the middle schools.”

Hope Squad is a school-based program that empowers students to be the ears and eyes of their school. Student leaders receive training that equips them with the knowledge and awareness needed to recognize mental health/suicide warning signs, as well as the procedures to properly report those concerns to an adult in a timely manner. The middle school curriculum is geared toward their development levels and will also cover topics such as healthy relationships, emotional awareness, self-esteem and understanding mental health as it relates to their peers.

“We want to make sure the 11- to 13-year-olds are equipped to help their peers since they are the first ones hearing this information,” Martin said.

Meanwhile, staff advisors will be trained in techniques that support the program over the summer.

“The district is fortunate to gain financial support and a long-term commitment for this program from the Westerville Education Challenge, which is a local nonprofit community organization that supports mental health initiatives in the schools,” said a Jan. 12 news release from the school district.

See the full school district news release on the Hope Squad expansion HERE.

Westerville Education Challenge is proud to sponsor the Hope Squad program in Westerville schools!


About WEC

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The mission of Westerville Education Challenge is to help create school cultures where every student feels safe, supported and celebrated.

We do this by raising awareness and funds for Social-Emotional Learning initiatives and programming in Westerville City Schools.

Contact us about how you can get involved at Contact | Westerville Education Challenge.