Hope Squads welcome new student leaders

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The Hope Squads at all three Westerville high schools hosted events this week to welcome potential new student leaders for the 2022-23 school year.

Students who were nominated by their classmates as trustworthy peers learned about Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program all high schools launched this year. They met Hope Squad advisors and representatives from the Westerville Education Challenge (WEC), who explained the commitment, responsibilities and training involved in the work. WEC provides financial support to bring Hope Squad to the district. Students heard from current Hope Squad student leaders, who shared what they’ve taken away from the experience.

“Being part of Hope Squad has been really enriching for me,” Westerville South senior and Hope Squad student leader Tyler Zwick said to students at the school’s auditorium. “It isn’t just about suicide prevention and being a resource for someone, I also learned a lot about self-care, taking care of myself and how to better navigate situations.” 

One Westerville North Hope Squad leader talked about the “Question, Persuade and Refer” (QPR) technique, which is an integral part of the Hope Squad training students receive in the summer and throughout the school year.

“It’s probably the biggest takeaway,” she said. “It’s a lot of learning and finding yourself and how to talk to other people.”

WNHS freshman Jeri Snell is excited about the opportunity to serve on the Hope Squad next year — and in years to come.

“I’m excited about the things we’re going to do in the future, learn about QPR and what it means to really help somebody,” she said. “It means a lot that I was nominated by someone. I hope I can do this every year until my senior year.”

Westerville Central High School sophomore Vy Trinh said it’s an honor to be part of Hope Squad. 

“It feels good because I can help others and make someone else’s day,” she said. “It’s nice to be a part of a community that helps other people.” 

WCHS’ event celebrated its senior student leaders with individual cakes from Schneider’s Bakery. Hope Squads at Westerville North and Westerville South plan to recognize its seniors at future events.