Mean Stinks club earns Buchanan ‘nicest school’ awardPublished 9:16am Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Are Buchanan students some of the nicest in America?
According to a New York-based advertising firm and two members of the school’s anti-bullying program, they are.
On Friday, Secret Deodorant’s Mean Stinks campaign awarded Buchanan a trophy for being the “nicest school in America.” Cindy Soltys, the at-risk counselor and advisor for the school’s Mean Stinks club, said the company awarded five such trophies across the country.
Soltys said Buchanan was recognized because the company was so impressed with the school’s integration of the Secret Deodorant’s Mean Stinks anti-bully program.
“They thought we were really going above and beyond what other schools are doing,” she said. “It is a really great honor for us and our students.”
Buchanan freshman Dylan Catalano sits on the school’s 20-member Mean Stinks committee, which meets weekly after school. He said the school’s designation as the nicest school in America was met with some skepticism, especially from people on social media.
“I’ve seen stuff on Facebook, from people from other schools saying we aren’t the nicest, but they don’t go here and they haven’t seen what is going on here,” he said. “Like anywhere else we still have problems, but the important thing is we are putting forth the most effort toward making this happen — that’s why we probably are one of the nicest.”
Brittany Schmidt, also a member of the Mean Stinks committee, agreed with Catalano.
“Without a doubt we are,” she said. “There’s always going to be people that are negative and want to put you down, but that doesn’t matter because the whole community backs us and that’s what you need.”
The program began two years ago after Buchanan Principal Sharon Steinke heard an advertisement for the Secret Deodorant Mean Stinks campaign, which is geared toward girls. Steinke relayed the idea to Soltys, who did some research and decided to tailor the campaign to fit all students.
“We all need awareness and continued education on how to treat each other,” Soltys said.
The program caught on quickly, spreading from the high school to other buildings within the district.
Members of the Mean Stinks committee visit with other students throughout the year to spread awareness and education on bullying and ways to deal with it. The students hold pep rallies, decorate the halls with positive messages and create T-shirts all with one goal: To spread the message that bullying really does stink.
Just last week, students performed bullying skits for students at the middle school and Moccasin and Ottawa elementary schools.
“You could tell they were really into it,” Catalano said.
In keeping with the Mean Stinks spirit, the school instituted a “Hurt Hotline,” which allows students to anonymously report bullying or other issues. Messages are sent directly to administrators, who investigate the reports.
Schmidt said the program is one of the best things the school has ever implemented.
“I know a lot of people who have used it and their problems were taken care of,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about being picked on for tattling or being a snitch. I think that’s what a lot of underclassmen are worried about — being called a snitch.”
Students can also ask a senior a bullying-related question by writing it on a piece of paper and putting it on drop boxes in school buildings.
“We aren’t just educating, we are giving them resources to stop it,” Catalano said.
While bullying still exists in Buchanan schools, Catalano and Schmidt believe it is on the decline.
“Once the program started I’ve seen a dramatic change,” Schmidt said. “There were fights a lot and there was always something going on, but once it started up there’s really been nothing.
“You don’t see people in the hallway getting shoved into a locker. You feel safe here. It is a real family feeling. You can talk to anyone.”
After seeing the success of the program at their school, Catalano and Schmidt hope it extends beyond the classroom.
“It’s a great idea so we want to see everyone gang up for good,” Catalano said.
For more information about the Mean Stinks program, go to meanstinks.com.