Welcome Wednesdays create positive, safe atmosphere at South

In April, the GBS administration implemented an initiative called Welcome Wednesdays in which faculty and staff have the option to greet students at the school’s entrances on Wednesday mornings.

According to Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel, the idea branched off from the “Start with Hello” campaign, which Joy Cooper, TLC and Peer Group Coordinator, originally proposed to Helios Club.

Though this initiative is optional, Fagel says that up to 50 staff members participate every week. Fagel believes that the change in atmosphere is noticeable, which draws staff members in to participating.

“The people who do it love it,” Fagel said. “All the adults love standing together and having their coffee in the morning and talking. It was funny watching the reactions of the kids at first. A lot of times kids would take out their earbuds and say good morning… It’s really just to make kids happy to be here… It’s really to reinforce a welcoming atmosphere.”

Junior Kate Gregory says seeing friendly faces first thing in the morning effectively improves her mood and her outlook on the day.

“The first things you encounter at school set the tone for the day ahead, so it’s beneficial to encounter such a positive welcome on those mornings,” Gregory said. “Even though just having teachers greet you on the way into school sounds like it won’t make much of a difference, I think that days following those greetings are generally more positive and happy because they put me into a better overall mood.”

Fagel says that this initiative serves a dual purpose in how it provides a sense of safety as well as a positive atmosphere, especially in current times of elevated skepticism of the safety of schools.

“There was such a heightened sense of anxiety after Parkland, a fear and a focus on safety, [that] it’s really nice to focus on something that’s the opposite of that that’s just pure and happy and as simple as saying good morning,” Fagel said. “I think that does add to a sense of safety. It’s not a metal detector, it’s not clear backpacks … It’s not a security measure like that, but I think by doing that you’re reminding kids that it is safe to be here, it’s a happy place.”