Hope Squad New to LEHS
By Avery Matthews, Staff Reporter
A new organization has been brought to Little Elm High School this school year. Supervised by AP English teacher Mr. Howard, the organization is called Hope Squad, and its sole purpose is to spread suicide awareness and other mental health issues.
Hope Squad started in Provo, Utah, and is now in over 900 schools in North America. This year Hope Squad has been brought to LEHS after long consideration.
“I just remember thinking that every high school needs an organization like Hope Squad and I was excited to be a part of it at LEHS,” Howard said, “it made me proud to work at a school that values its students and their well-being enough to start a Hope Squad.”
The LEHS Student Council has been discussing the addition of the Hope Squad since January 2020. The club contains about 25 members and meets on 5A class days.
“Hope Squad to me is a place where everyone feels they belong,” said Lia Tavares, Hope Squad president, “when we first started Hope Squad, I already felt like I knew everyone in there, even if I had never met them, and it was a place where we could all relate to each other in one way or another.”
The school-based, peer-to-peer program has over 30,000 members nationwide and is in 27 states and Canada.
“With this being our first year, I think the most important thing is just getting the word out and making sure every student knows that there are counselors, teachers, and other students they can talk to if they are struggling,” Howard said, “I would also like students to know that struggling is normal, especially this year, and that no one should feel embarrassed or guilty about asking for help.”
In the Hope Squad, the members learn the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal. According to info from the club, four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.
“Hope Squad has helped me understand that suicide awareness is more than just a prevention; it’s about destroying the negative stigma around mental health and allowing others to feel that they aren’t alone in what they experience,” Tavares said, “learning about the suicide awareness made me realize that the signs are more common than people think, and it can seem as harmless as a joke.”
So far this year Hope squad has participated in many events involving their very own “Hope Week.”
“The Hope Squad members did a great job coming together and organizing Hope Week back in September. We had only been together as a group for a few weeks, but our officers and members all stepped up and put in a lot of work chalking the sidewalks, making posters, and distributing suicide prevention cards and suicide awareness wrist bands,” said Howard, “the thing we enjoyed doing the most, however, was passing out Kindness Grams. We were overwhelmed by the number of students and teachers who participated, and I think everyone was happy to have a chance to give someone a message of encouragement or gratitude.”
Currently, the Hope Squad is helping out some angels for the LEHS angel tree, and plan on making LEHS a No Place for Hate School in the upcoming months, Howard said.