St. DavidUnified School District #21

Hope Squad

Hope Squad is a very special program at our school for suicide prevention. Please check this page regularly for current information. This information is important for all parents whether your student is part of our Hope Squad or not.

Hope Squad

A Message From Our Coordinator

In order to address the increasing number of students experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, we reviewed different programs that would best suit our needs. Two years ago, we organized a HOPE Squad at our school. Having been featured on an NBC News special and in a People Magazine article, HOPE Squads are rapidly expanding throughout the country and are facilitated by educators, psychologists, councilors, and others at They are now in eighteen states, plus Canada, and in over 600 schools. We are the first and only in Arizona; however, this program has shown great success in helping students and we hope it will spread throughout all of the state. It is an evidence-based, peer-to-peer program that identifies students who tend to be a source of trust and comfort. These students learn about and then present to others suicide warning signs, risk factors, and how to refer fellow students for help. The HOPE squads also presents monthly activities on kindness, resiliency, compassion, and other valuable topics. We sponsor a “Day of HOPE” with guest speakers and activities. We also hold a “HOPE Week” in which we have a special presentation and week-long activities geared toward encouraging students to care about each other, to understand diversity, and to develop empathy. In addition, we enjoyed sponsoring an “Out of the Darkness” activity for the community last spring. Our school and community has seen great success with this program in assisting students to receive the help they need and in improving the atmosphere of caring at our school. Staff and students have commented on the difference this program is making and we have even had a local doctor tell us that one of his adolescent patients was saved from suicide as a direct result of this program.

Melanie Larson, R.N.
District Nurse, Health Science Instructor/HOSA Advisor/HOPE Squad Coordinator

Hope Squad is Making Headlines

Hope Squad is making headlines! Our Hope Squad is part of a national organization that is making the news. We wanted everyone to know that Hope Squad will be on NBC Nightly News, with Lester Holt. The segment should air on Monday night, May 20, unless something else comes up. We are also very excited as People Magazine also spent some time with Hope Squad Headquarters in Provo, UT, and they are running a story on the Hope Squad in their June 3 issue. We are grateful for this opportunity to highlight the amazing things the Hope Squad students across the nation are doing to help save lives!

Lessons Learned

We have learned that involving parents is a must. We had a parent help organize several others together to help with the projects for Hope Week. We also appreciated having their input and participation at some of our Hope Squad classes.

Future Plans

We would like to involve more staff members in helping with our Hope Squads so they can appreciate more fully what the Hope Squad members are learning, and make it easier on staff who wear many "hats" at our small school. This year we changed from meeting once a week to meeting as a regular class in high school. We will continue this and feel excited about the opportunity to give plenty of time to the various lesson topics while also having more time to plan monthly school-wide activities.

Our Focus

Our focus for the month of May is resilience. This month the High School Hope Squad members will be presenting 10 Ways to Develop Resilience to all the students in our school, as well as showing some related videos and activities.

“Bounce Back!” is an acronym for some of the foundational principles of resilience:

B – Bad times don’t last, and things get better.
O – Other people can only help if you share with them.
U – Unhelpful thinking only makes you feel worse.
N – Nobody is perfect: not you, not your friends, not your family, not anybody!
C – Concentrate on the good things in life, no matter how small.
E – Everybody suffers, everybody feels pain and experiences setbacks; they are a normal part of life.

B – Blame fairly: negative events are often a combination of things you did, things others did, and plain bad luck.
A – Accept what you can’t change and try to change what you can.
C – Catastrophizing makes things worse. Don’t fall prey to believing in the worst interpretation.
K – Keep things in perspective. Even the worst moment is but one moment in life.

Hope Squad students blowing bubbles outside