The first Friendship Day of the year was held on Sept. 16 at the Redwood Building near Caesar Chavez Elementary.
“Friendship Day was started as a way to bring students together to build connections and have positive interactions,” Vice Principal Tom McHale said. He hopes every student has a chance to participate in the program.
During Friendship Day, students participate in various games and activities that emphasize teamwork, acceptance, and self-expression. In addition, students gather into discussion groups to share individual ideas.
Sophomore Chloe Clouse attended Friendship Day on Sept. 16.
Clouse and about 80 other students were grouped together. The first team building game started, and students cautiously began interacting with each other, soon becoming friendlier, Clouse remembers.
“It was so much fun to get a day off from school and just bond with other people,” Clouse said. “It was a safe atmosphere where everybody could just be themselves. Friendship Day is something I definitely feel that DHS should keep around.”
Friendship Day is about “discovering what we have in common,” counselor Mary Hallisey said. “We are more alike than we are different.”
Through Friendship Day, “I believe that each student’s spirit is lifted and they carry positive energy back with them to their circle of friends,” Hallisey said.
Friendship Day occurs once a month from September to March. Students can sign up during lunch in the quad two to three weeks before the event.
Junior Daniel Dutulescu is a facilitator of Friendship Day. He helps organize and publicize the event. He said he enjoys his work as a facilitator, but there is a “small amount of stress organizing a Friendship Day.”
Dutulescu first attended Friendship Day as a sophomore in 2010. “I had felt so comfortable being there, something I don’t always experience,” he said. He said that he became closer to the friends he has today through the program.
The event was started after there was a racial violence incident at DHS in 1983, when a bullied Vietnamese student was stabbed to death.
At Friendship Day, “students meet other students they otherwise would have never met. There’s a more personal level,” Head Counselor Courtenay Tessler said.
“It makes the campus a lot friendlier,” Tessler said.
“Friendship Day reminds me today that you can be yourself and people will accept you. Not everyone might accept you, but at least some will. Therefore, hang out with the people who love you for who you are,” Dutulescu said.