Hope Squad’s Arrival to Jonathan Alder

Hope Squad


Hope Squad members

Caitlyn Feay, Staff Writer

Hope Squad, the school suicide prevention program, is currently in more than 1200 plus schools and is expanding even more throughout America. The program has come to Jonathan Alder High School this year, and will expand around the district in future years.


The Hope Squad program has a mission to help student mental health and prevent suicide. According to the Hope Squad website, the peer-selected members that serve on Hope Squad “are trained to be aware of their peers and watch for warning signs. They learn to show empathy to their peers, listen without judgment, and reduce stigma regarding help-seeking and mental illness.”


About two years ago, Mrs. Wheatley, a district social worker and student support specialist,  went to a training about the Hope Squad program, and she thought that Jonathan Alder needed it. “We have been doing the Signs of Suicide program now for six years through out the districts,” she says, “and I feel like Hope Squad is the next appropriate extention…we give students all the things to look for, like the warning signs and the risk factors, but then we don’t follow up, so I see the Hope Squad as being that next step.” 


Mrs. Schludecker, one of the Hope Squad advisors, mentions that the people involved in Hope Squad currently are “just the advisors. Mrs. Wheatley is the [main] advisor, and then Mrs. Marling, myself, and Mrs. Wolfe are the other advisors. Once we have selected members, there should be five to ten students per grade.” 


Wheatley says that, “the next step is for the advisors to identify the students that were nominated and which one of those students in each class will then become hope squad leaders so after that they will go into some training.” After they go through training they will start planning different activities, events, and resources. Wheatley’s hope throughout the rest of the school year is that all the students know who the advisors are and know who the hope squad leaders are so students know who they can go to if they are concerned about anyone. 


 Hope Squad will expand throughout the upcoming years, and expanding to the Junior High School next year, and eventually Canaan Middle School. At the high school, though, things are still getting started. Wheatley says, “we are in the very beginning stage and not many people know what it is, so you will be learning more about it soon. It’s a process, and it’s pretty much still in the planning stages, so we are still picking who our hope squad leaders will be and planning school wide events, but mostly it will be in the planning stages this year, whereas next year my hope will be that it’s fully running.” 


So, Hope Squad’s appearance is here to help student mental health struggles, by using peers to lend a helping hand and offer support to others. As Schludecker says, “Mental health issues are important for everybody, and the best way to make sure everyone is supported is to inform everyone about the issues and give people multiple ways to ask for help.”