How Derby schools are making sure nobody eats alone

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DERBY -- Schools in town are participating in 'Start with Hello Week,' an initiative from Sandy Hook Promise designed to eliminate social isolation.

"We really think it's important that kids feel appreciated," said Derby High School Principal Marty Pascale.

Students will participate in different team-building activities throughout the week, culminating in "No One Eats Alone" on Friday, when students and staff will all eat lunch together.

On Monday, students made signs saying 'hello' in different languages. On Tuesday, high school students will eat lunch with senior citizens.

"It's good to sit down with someone new and learn something about them, like where they're from or where their family is from, what they do outside of school," said Derby High School Senior John Dytko. "And maybe you can find connections and bonds there."

"I know it'll make a better high school experience when you have people to talk to," said senior Anna Chevarella.

"I think this week is going to bring forward getting to know everybody else more, instead of just our grade," said senior Annalisa Salazar.

Derby Middle School Principal William Vitelli said some students hide behind laptops and video games, but may not be truly connected to their classmates. "If we can get them to just develop the skills of being outgoing, of not being afraid of taking on a new challenge, or working outside themselves, the goal is that it'll pay it forward," said Vitelli.

Just this school year, Derby High School welcomed 60 new students. High School Principal Marty Pascale said the school works hard to make all new students feel included. "It's really important that we work on establishing great relationships with students as soon as they get here," said Pascale. "And not only with students, but their families as well."

'Start with Hello Week' is a nationwide initiative, involving hundreds of high schools. For more information, click here.