by Joey Crandall, email@example.com Follow @joeycrandall
MINDEN, Nev., November 21, 2014 — The tendency in high school is to focus on the next big test. The next big game. The next big dance. There’s a whole lot of exciting things going on and whole lot to account for.
But in the middle of all that, it’s easy to lose track of what’s actually going on around you.
Students at Douglas High School decided to turn all the energy of planning for those types of events into an opportunity to positively affect someone else this week as part of the quickly-growing national phenomenon known as the “Dude. be nice Project.”
More than 200 students at faculty gathered on the back lawn of the Douglas High campus Thursday afternoon to honor Mr. Emilio Gonzales, 83, a long-time substitute teacher at the school.
“We wanted to plan a surprise for Mr. Gonzales, just because of who he is and how he impacts our lives,” said Douglas High student Chelsea Chambers. “We just wanted to let him know how much he has helped our school, helped the students. He’s at every sporting event, everyone knows him. He subs here five days a week.
“He’s the type of person you just look at and smile because of the way he is.”
Gonzales was at the high school for what he was told would be a tour of the new construction. When he was brought around back, though, he was greeted by the mob of cheering students, with the JROTC Color Guard on hand and the Douglas High School pep band playing one of his favorite songs, “Rubber Band Man.”
Students gave a speech about him and how he has impacted their lives and took turns dropping a marble in a for him, with each marble representing a life he’d changed.
“We just wanted to signify in some small way the lives he has touched,” Chambers said.
Gonzales and his wife were presented with a gift card to Saletti’s and the colors were presented and national anthem played. The marbles were colored red, white and blue.
“He’s just a super patriotic guy, it’s something we thought he would like,” Chambers said.
Planning for the event began before the school year opened. It ramped up over the past two weeks with Douglas High Leadership officers Emily Lawrence and Delaney Jacobson leading the charge.
The project was completed in partnership with Ventura, Calif.-based Dude. be nice, a clothing brand geared to creating positive changes within communities across the country.
Dude. be nice founder Brent Camalich was in attendance and helped with the planning and preparation.
“We just wanted to create a brand for young people that was relevant and cool enough to wear, but still inspire that positive vibe within the community,” Camalich said. “We started the Dude. be nice Project just with the thought that if we were really going to be a brand that lives and breathes this, we have to work with young people to go do awesome things for the people they live around.”
Dude. be nice video and photo crews were on hand to document the event.
“There are so many tragic stories out there, we want to try to create some good news,” Camalich said. “We did one of these in Anaheim, people saw it and it has had this spiral effect across the country. The idea is that if you truly want to build a positive community on your campus, stop bullying and things like that, go do some nice and awesome things for people.”
When Douglas High students began describing Mr. Gonzales to Camalich, it quickly became apparent he was the ideal recipient of such a surprise.
“They just talked about how humble he is, and how he could have retired years ago but chooses to be with students every day to continue to have an impact on their lives,” Camalich said. “He ended up being the perfect candidate.
“We just wanted to show him, hey you matter to us and we are grateful for you.”
Gonzales was moved to tears at the rush of students dropping marbles in his jar.
Students said they hope to plan more such events in the near future for other members of the community.
“The thing is, this will create a lasting memory for Mr. Gonzales, but it also really has an effect on the kids,” Camalich said. “Do something meaningful, I promise you it will have an enormous effect on your school and community.”
For more information on Dude. be nice, visit http://www.dudebenice.com/
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