‘Hello Week’ Fosters Inclusivity, Welcomes Students to Oak Knoll

With another full week behind us in the 2021-22 school year, Oak Knoll’s coed PK-6 Lower School community prioritized fostering kindness and community inclusivity through the school’s first-ever “Hello Week.”

The Lower School was jam-packed with daily activities throughout the week, each encouraging one-on-one interaction, and subtle ways of saying “hello” to and meeting new friends. 

On Monday, students wore name tags and were asked to start a conversation with at least two new students they didn’t know. On Tuesday, students learned how to say “hello” in another language. 

“It was fun to learn how to say hi in different languages,” said Taylor Black ’28 of Warren.

Students played get-to-know-you games on Wednesday at lunchtime with different questions to answer on cards placed at their lunch tables. 

Here, students were asked to discuss several different conversation starters including a description of their perfect day, where they would like to go on vacation, one thing that they can’t live without or if they had three wishes what would they be?

“I think Hello Week is a really nice way to meet people,” said Chole Wells-Roth ’28 of Chatham. 

Malaya Jones ’28 of East Orange agreed. 

“I liked making new friends that I don’t normally get to see that often because we are not in the same classes,” said Jones.

On Thursday, teachers asked their students to choose someone they don’t usually play with to draw with chalk on the blacktop during recess. Several students wrote the word “hello” in different languages and drew pictures that represented kindness. 

Students ended “Hello Week” on Friday by writing at least three ways to be kind on post-its they then tacked to the bulletin board in the Lower School.

“Hello Week is really about building our community, welcoming new students, and helping all students feel included,” said Lower School counselor Melissa Nelson, who spearheaded the week. “The daily activities encourage students to get to know one another, make new friends, and choose kindness. With the lingering effects of social isolation from COVID and more than 200 students starting a new school year, we wanted to help everyone come together in a kind and friendly way, the Oak Knoll way.”

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