Students & Staff at Cedar Grove HS Are Literally
Wrapping Their Arms Around Science and Increasing School Pride
What relieves stress, improves sleep, and increases confidence and well-being? According to medical research, it’s a good ole hug!
Putting science to the test, Cedar Grove High administrators have been kicking off the school day with students who welcome the simple gesture, along with a smile that always accompanies the moment.
Whether it’s students arriving by bus or their parent’s vehicles every Wednesday morning, they are greeted with a smile and a hug from administrators and some of their classmates.
The idea originated with Ms. Shontica Wallace, the school’s Attendance Protocol Manager, who wanted to show students that the school’s staff cared about every student.
“I believe love conquers all. We can’t possibly know what these kids are dealing with outside of school,” Ms. Wallace said. “But I know that they are with us eight hours of the day, so let’s start the day off with love so that they can see, feel, and really know that they are loved.”
Although Ms. Wallace began working at Cedar Grove High School last fall, she’s no stranger to the school. Her son is a 2018 graduate, and she was an active school parent working with the auxiliary team. Shortly after being hired, she made it her mission to help spread love and joy throughout the school.
With the assistance of administrators, specifically Assistant Principal Shenetria Wyche, Ms. Wallace began hugging students every Wednesday morning. There’s no pressure for any students to participate, but she said that students have been overwhelmingly accepting of the hugs since day one.
“One of the kids said this was the best thing the school has ever done,” Ms. Wallace said. “They need [hugs], they want it, and this was a way for us to show them compassion and caring.”
Soon after, some other staff members and even students joined in on the effort to spread love to students.
“I was worried about how they would feel hugging their peers, but it’s been amazing,” Ms. Wallace said. “The truth is they want hugs from their friends more so than from us, and that’s just fine. It’s still a great start to the school day.”
Cedar Grove senior Brooklyn Freeman said she joined in on this friendly act of affection as another way to help increase school pride.
“I feel like Cedar Grove has lost some of its school spirit, so I felt like doing something that spreads love and joy to people in the morning is a good deed, and it makes me feel good,” Freeman said. “[The students] really enjoy it. They say that it’s something new and different for the school.”
Principal Clifton Spears said he was excited when he heard about the initiative.
“When they came to me and said they wanted to do a ‘hug day,’ I said let’s go,” Principal Spears said. “[Ms. Wallace] is doing an awesome job, and the kids love it. I think it’s going to continue to grow within the school. We’re trying to spread love and show our students that we care for them.”
This initiative has now become a club called “The Love Club.” Outside of giving hugs every Wednesday morning, the group has started doing acts of kindness every Friday. Last week, they helped the school’s custodian by emptying each trash can. They’ve also begun making kind gestures for teachers.
“We find a teacher that’s maybe going through something, and we get the administrator to get them out of the room, and then we go in and decorate the room with personal hand-written notes from the kids, balloons, and other things just to say I love you,” Ms. Wallace said.
Ms. Wallace said she hopes students learn what love is, what love means, and what love does through “hug day.”