Return to Headlines

Union County Public Schools is named national 2019 Start With Hello district winner

Start with Hello Week Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) has selected Union County Public Schools (UCPS) as the national 2019 Start With Hello District award winner. SHP, the nation’s leading school violence prevention organization, launched the awards in tandem with the larger Start With Hello Week national campaign to recognize school efforts to prevent bullying and violence.

In the congratulatory letter from Bob Flynn, National Programs Director for SHP, he said that considering the number of entries Sandy Hook Promise received from across the nation and the high quality of these entries, Union County Public Schools should be very proud of this achievement.

“This award is very special because students, staff, parents and community members participated to show that we care about youth violence prevention," said Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan. “UCPS has a districtwide focus on social and emotional health and the Start With Hello Campaign was one strategy we implemented to create awareness, talk about inclusion and promote kindness. I want to thank our Student Support Services team and school leaders for their leadership during the campaign.”

During the week of Sept. 23-27, UCPS celebrated Start With Hello Week with a variety of programs. Schools developed daily activities for staff and students, including Mix It Up Day and creating a Smile Wall to share positive messages. In addition, the district’s communications team ran a social media campaign to highlight pictures and videos from school activities and involvement from community groups. The campaign was also emphasized through media stories and features in employee and community newsletters.

As the district winner, UCPS will receive:

  • A Start With Hello Award plaque
  • Free registration for five SAVE Promise Club members and two educators to attend the 2020 SAVE Promise Club Summit
  • A $1,000 stipend to use towards future Start With Hello initiatives and/or to travel to the 2020 SAVE Promise Club Summit
  • Recognition on Sandy Hook Promise’s website, social media, and related materials. 

To qualify for the awards, each school and district had to demonstrate active student leadership, creativity of expression in programmatic activities, broad community reach, and concrete plans and commitment to sustaining the Start With Hello program long-term.

For more information, visit

Posted: Dec. 6, 2019