Leading the HOPE Squad at Weber High, Brad Hawks wants to spread happiness and inclusion
In a world that is becoming increasingly dark, Brad Hawks, senior at Weber High, desires to fill it with something lighter, something better. His message? Hope.
“We want to bring hope to the school and help people feel like they are important,” Hawks said. “Because they matter,” he adds.
For this reason, Hawks has led the Weber High HOPE Squad, acting as its President throughout his senior year of high school. HOPE stands for Hold On, Pause, Encourage and was founded by Dr. Greg Hudnall who initially implemented the program in the Provo school district. It has since proven successful in nearly all school districts in Utah while also spreading across the country.
The HOPE squad acts like an underground organization that sets the tone or atmosphere for the school year, meant to combat the recent and alarming rise in teen suicides. “We set a positive tone because I’ve seen the happiness we spread and the smiles are contagious,” said Hawks. Inside the HOPE Squad is a group of students who are trained to help with mental health awareness and suicide prevention. They are also a team to be nice and spread that goodness throughout the school, without necessarily being recognized for it. Hawks said, “We are the eyes and ears of the counselors. We are trained on the warning signs of suicide and depression. This helps us recognize people in crisis and be able to help them, or get them help.” To that cause, the group tries subtly to be kind.
Hawks first got involved with the HOPE squad when he was in 8th grade and it was known as the Student Response Team. He was nominated by teachers as someone they felt students would be comfortable talking to. On top of that, he was someone who could make others happier and make a difference. Jen Paige, a counselor at Weber High and the advisor of the HOPE squad said, “I selected Brad to be the Hope Squad President because he has always exhibited a sincere desire to serve others. He is consistently kind to all he meets, and is willing to help in any way he can. Brad is extremely organized and he has done a phenomenal job with keeping the HOPE Squad on track.”
After being nominated, Hawks wanted to put his all into it. “I wanted to help others and spread happiness to the student body,” he said. Since 8th grade, Hawks has done just that with this year no exception.
“We are currently handing out clothespins with positive affirmations and compliments secretly. We have also handed out candy, stickers, bubbles, and pins before school.” On top of that, Hawks leads the way during HOPE week, training the student body on important issues, and representing the club in the Mr. Weber pageant.
Paige claims she couldn’t have picked a better president for this year. “Brad is just such a nice young man, someone who really embodies what the HOPE Squad is about. He is a great example to Weber High of hope and kindness.”
If there is a message that Hawks hopes to leave Weber High and future students with, it’s this: “You never know what someone might be going through, so we should be kind and treat everyone with respect.”