Hope Squad Supports Students Virtually In Midst of Pandemic


Bia Shok

Hope Squad members aim to create a safe school environment, promote connectedness, support anti-bullying, encourage mental wellness, reduce mental health stigma and prevent substance misuse, according to the website.

Bia Shok, Staff Writer

Hope Squad has shifted from meeting at office hours or lunch once a week, to meeting every Friday via Zoom to discuss and find ways to support peers struggling with mental health throughout quarantine. 

Hope Squad also created an Instagram page to promote mental health awareness, publicize their team and make it easier for students to reach out to them. Although the group is working on creating a consistent way for students to contact them, students are encouraged to message their Instagram account or enter a counselor’s office hours.

“Hope Squad members are a bridge between the students and counselors because some students can first feel uncomfortable with going to counselors with their problems,” sophomore and Hope Squad member Luca Ngo said. “Since we just started out this year, we have a small team, so we are just hoping to grow [in] members and participation next year and have that publicity so more students can feel comfortable coming to us.”

With quarantine still in place, Han says students are more likely to feel isolated, which is why the program prioritizes easy student access to support. According to Ngo, while the team is still working on specifics, they plan on releasing a Google Form later in the year that would allow students to approach members about their situations easier.

“I hope that people find us as welcoming and they think they can trust us,” senior and Hope Squad member Daniel Han said. “I know it can be intimidating to reach out to someone, an adult not our age, but knowing that I’m just like them that has had the same problems, they have someone to reach out to.”

Hope Squad is a nationwide program implemented at Portola High this school year, second to initiate the program after Woodbridge High. In order to equally provide students in all grade levels with support, members are from all four grades.

“There were certain phases to training we needed to get through, but since the school closed and we went primarily online, it was very difficult to do that training,” substitute Hope Squad adviser and counselor Melissa Gibson said. “Right now it’s just social media, really figuring out availability to let other students know who they are, and if they need someone to turn to they can turn to them.