Getting more of the student perspective! In the second part of two episodes, Travis Nipper is again joined by Olivia Marshall from Lakota East High School and Sarah Johnson of Ross High School, who have been chosen to serve on the Hope Squad National Council. The women tell us what motivated them to get involved in the National Council and the work they are doing for the national conference. We also get some insight on how leading Hope Squads has changed during the pandemic, and what they envision for the future of their Hope Squads.

Listen to Episode 9

Travis begins by welcoming back Olivia Marshall, from Lakota East High School, Sarah Johnson, from Ross High School, and Suzanna Davis, a member of our Grant Us Hope team. (1:15)

Olivia begins by sharing that she applied for the National Hope Squad because of her love for her Hope Squad at Lakota East. She hoped to improve her high school Hope Squad as well as her skill as a Hope Squad member. (1:42)

Sarah echoes those remarks and adds that she was stressed the week she applied to the National Hope Squad which caused her to reflect on the happiness that her membership in her high school Hope Squad program has brought to her and how that prompted her to want to give back by getting more involved (3:00)

Suzanna moves on to outline the how the regional Hope Squad conference has been reimagined it due to COVID-19 concerns. They have pulled together a virtual national convention in order to strengthen their internal Hope Squads as well as create a shared experience for the students across the nation (4:05)

Sarah shares how the national council is preparing for Ohio’s segment which will consist of interactive activities despite its virtual nature (5:10)

Olivia jumps in to add that they have additionally emphasized self-care and how Hope Squad members can take care of their own well-being. Additionally, she highlights a segment focusing on inclusivity which consists of active listening training and implicit bias awareness to be better allies to minorities (5:45)

Shifting back to the local school level, Sarah shares the changes she has seen with her high school Hope Squad that have come with quarantine and virtual learning. She shares a bit about their Hope Week as well as their uplifting message that hope and love are not cancelled even when everything else is (7:10)

Olivia talks about how her Hope Squad is overcoming the struggles that came with the disruption of their original in-person plans. Furthermore, she notes that her Hope Squad is creating a website with a central focus on how their peers can support those they care about on their own (9:03)

Closing out the conversation, Olivia begins by sharing her vision for the future of Hope Squad. She talks about their development of their “mini-squads” which specialize on specific elements of their overall goal as well as her desire to see how Hope Squads in general will grow in coming years (11:05)

Sarah adds that her school, only 2 years into their Hope Squad experience, has a focus of emphasizing their presence within Ross while also making sure that every Hope Squad member feels confident in their abilities to handle every situation (13:10)

Now to the mic drops, Olivia shares a quote by Dr. Seuss that is personal to her and a reminder for everyone to be who they are and to be open about their emotions no matter what (14:02)

Sarah, similarly, concludes with a quote about kindness and positivity, while stressing the importance of carrying that out at all times (15:05)

Suzanna concludes with a commendation of how proud we at Grant Us Hope are of our student contributors and their willingness to use their voices, especially our wonderful guests: Olivia and Sarah (15:30)


Olivia Marshall attends Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio. She loves theater and performing with her high school and community theater! She hopes to become a social worker so she can work with kids in the foster system, or LGBTQ+ youth. She wants to inspire her peers to support each other, no matter their differences.

Sarah Johnson lives in Hamilton, Ohio and attends Ross High School. She absolutely loves Hope Squad, and her goal is to expand the program to more schools. Her favorite aspect of Hope Squads is the work they do to spread positivity and make every student feel valued. She can’t wait to spread these messages to even more people!

Suzanna Davis, Director of Programming, Grant Us Hope – Twitter: @SD4HOPE

You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @GUHPodcast

Have a question or topic you’d like covered in an upcoming Grant Us Hope podcast? Contact us Here

Interested in learning more about how the Leadership Excelleration team can help your leaders? Contact us today.