A gala is planned this week as part of a campaign that seeks to remind Howell High School students of their importance and uniqueness.

The local efforts are part of a national campaign that seeks to showcase each student in the school. The #WhyYouMatter campaign began at Chelsea High School and has since spread across the country. Students and staff launched the campaign after the passing of three students, two to suicide, in a short time frame. Their goal was to create a proactive, meaningful campaign to help build positive self-images within the student body.

For several months, students in Howell High School’s leadership classes have been working behind the scenes photographing every student and staff member holding a sign that states what makes that person special and planning an opening gala for the campaign. The Howell High School #WhyYouMatter gala will be held this Thursday from 6 to 8pm at the school. Students, parents and community members are invited to view all of the photographs, enjoy appetizers and hear performances by the school’s band and choir.

Howell High School leadership teacher Gabby DiNatale-Park says students have worked very hard planning every aspect of the campaign. She says they’ve checked and double checked to ensure as many students and staff members have been photographed as possible, putting each photo into the #WhyYouMatter format and printing all 2,500 photos. Thursday’s gala will be the first time all of the photos will be hung in the school for everyone to view, which DiNatale-Park says will be a very powerful experience they hope will help remind students that they are important.

To celebrate completion of the project, Howell High School is hosting a special spirit week, with themes that relate to the campaign. Additionally, following the gala on Thursday, students will send off Chinese Lanterns to honor lost loved ones and classmates. (JM)