By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Random Acts of Kindness - GBHS starts RAK Club
GBHS students focus on kindness
RAK Club 2019 Joanna Sanchez Bradley Beck
Joanna Sanchez and Bradley Beck talk to the school board on Thursday at Great Bend High School. They are members of the new Random Acts of Kindness Club at GBHS. - photo by Susan Thacker

The number of Random Acts of Kindness at Great Bend High School is on the rise, thanks to a new volunteer group known at the RAK Club.

Club sponsor Shelly Duvall and two of the club members – Joanna Sanchez and Bradley Beck – talked about the group when the USD 428 Board of Education held its November luncheon meeting at the high school, in the library. Board members were served a lunch prepared by the Family And Consumer Science (FACS) class taught by Katy Hekele.

Sanchez told the school board that in the last two and a half years she had lost eight friends in Dodge City to suicide.

“Joanna came to me and asked if I’d be willing to sponsor this group,” said Duvall, who teaches health and physical education and is the head volleyball coach. She agreed to take on the job without pay.

This group started in September and has 80 members. There is no fee to join and staff are welcome.

“If you want to be nice to people, come join us,” Duvall said. The goals are to increase people’s awareness and “make kindness a habit.”

Beck said one of the first things the group did was to set goals. These include “Bring people together in a cooperative, caring way,” and “Change the world with kindness, slowly but surely.”

The group has instigated “High Five Fridays” at GBHS, encouraging students to give a high five to someone and maybe make a new friend. Members also started a Post-It Challenge, putting positive messages on notes posted all over the school and on a Wall of Kindness during Anti-Bullying Week. As GBHS Principal Tim Friess listened to the students’ presentation on Thursday, they pointed to one note on the wall behind him. The orange square of paper said, “Thanks for being you” and included a heart.

Similar to Kindness Rocks, which are painted and left for others to find and pass along, the positive stickers continue to show up in random places.

The RAK Club has its own Facebook and Instagram pages. Look for the Great Bend High School RAK Club.

For Red Ribbon Week, when students are encouraged to stay drug-free, RAK Club members visited USD 428’s five elementary schools and Holy Family Catholic School in Great Bend and found out how much the younger children admire high school students.

“It’s crazy how it affects them!” Sanchez said, describing how she cheered up a little girl who seemed to be having a bad day as she entered the school. With an encouraging word from Sanchez, the girl ran up and hugged her.

“Now we’re doing The Habit of Change,” Sanchez said. The freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as GBHS staff, are vying to collect the most change (i.e., money) for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. The winning group will get bragging rights and will have a say in choosing the presents purchased to give to needy families.

“This (club) wouldn’t have started without Joanna,” Duvall said. Members meet once a month on a Wednesday morning, and they represent a cross-section of different groups in the study body.


The school board also heard from GBHS Librarian Emily Mulch and some of the students who have helped her create a Makerspace in the library. Students Juan Pulido, Elsa Lopez and Katie Kuhlman gave a short demonstration of some of the projects that students are working on.

Personnel and contributions

In action items Thursday, the board approved three licensed teacher appointments: Brooke Riemann, fourth-grade teacher at Riley Elementary; Jamie Rowan, elementary teacher; and Kaitlyn Wager, sixth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary.

The board also approved $600 in contributions to Barton County Special Services Cooperative to fund holiday activities for students in classes of special education teachers Jessica Nelson, Connie Ward, Tina Vondracek and Dawn Galusha. Krebaum Chiropractic contributed $100 and Upside of Down Syndrome Parent Group contributed $500.

RAK Club 2019 Tim Friess
GBHS Principal Tim Friess listens to a presentation on the RAK Club. One club project was to post positive notes throughout the school. A note on the wall behind Friess says, “Thanks for being you.” - photo by Susan Thacker
GBHS Makerspace 2019
GBHS students reporting on the Library’s Makerspace were Elsa Lopez, left, and Katie Kuhlman. Also reporting but not pictured was Juan Pulido. - photo by Susan Thacker