Building Hope at LCHS

via Stock Photos

via Stock Photos

Mallory Avington

All it takes is a helping hand. 

February 18 was a day of insight and empathy for more than 300 students and volunteers. The LCHS Freshman Class participated in an all-day anti-bullying campaign called Building Hope, sponsored by Bear Contracting in Bridgeport. The local program was co-sponsored by Ted and Jenny Garrett of Garrett Supply of Weston. 

The program focuses on “lowering your waterline”, meaning that the student participants would let down their guard and learn about each other rather than focus on previous misconceptions and judging on appearances 

“Teenagers are moldable, transformable, and haven’t been too jaded by this world to be changed for the good!”

— Scott Pagel, a speaker for Building Hope

The “Be the Difference” initiative was demonstrated by Pagel and Pete Bryant, founder of Changepoint Learning, an organization centered in Cincinatti, Ohio, that has focused on anti-bullying campaigns in various middle and high schools since 2002.  

“If you work with students, you are all too familiar with the fact that addressing issues of disrespect, diversity and gender intolerance, stereotyping and bullying isn’t as simple as saying, “Stop doing that.” Real change involves a mental and emotional shift in each individual.” (via

Although the “Vegas Rule” was in effectwhat happened or what was said during the program stayed mostly confidentialsome freshmen were open about their feelings concerning the program.  

“I thought it was a good experience and showed that none of us are alone,” Arica Pullen, freshman, said. “We all have our struggles. When people were crying, enemies became friends, and differences weren’t important. Apologies were given and, as sad as things were, people enjoyed it.” 

More than 40 community volunteers and Grace-trained LCHS upperclassmen spent the day facilitating with Building Hope in activities such as small group discussion and simple icebreakers; there was a point in time of the assembly where students and volunteers would walk around as music played from the speakers, and then go back-to-back with the first person they saw as the music stopped. They were then to face a series of questions together, comparing answers and getting to know each other. 

“I thought the assembly was actually really nice,” Makenna West, freshman, said about her thoughts on Building Hope. “It got me to cry a bit. I’m normally not much for that stuffand I think most assemblies are useless. But this onewas nice. I’m grateful to the people who are here for treating us like people, not toddlers.” 

 For more information about the program or contacts, visit