It's No Guff Week in Falmouth this week. That means a veritable kibosh on trash talk, antagonistic texts and bullying. Instead, it is a week of reflection, kindness and respect throughout the Upper Cape town.
No Guff Week had its start as No Guff Day more than a decade ago. It was founded by the late Doug Riebesehl, a teacher at Falmouth High School in an effort to curb conflict and improve relations among students. Over the years, No Guff Day began picking up steam and evolved into No Guff Week in 2010. During the week, students don No Guff t-shirts and make a pledge to not speak or text anything negative to a fellow student.
It also spread through the rest of the schools in town and into the community at large. Today, No Guff Week is celebrated by all members of the Falmouth community, young and old in the schools, businesses, churches and the town government. According to Falmouth resident Cathy Ham, whose daughter Melissa is a student at Falmouth Middle School, "the No Guff program has been a part of the school system's culture and fabric through my daughter's education. She even won a Peace Builder award when she was at Teaticket Elementary School."
In his No Guff history, FHS Adjustment Counselor Greg Gilbert points out that No Guff Day/Week predates the commonwealth's anti-bullying initiatives by a decade. In 2010, Falmouth Selectmen made it official with a proclamation.
This year's theme, "Stand Up, Don't Stand By" encourages everyone to be respectful and champion unity and community. Each year, students nominate classmates who best exemplify a No Guff way of life. For 2014, the Falmouth Chamber joined in and requested nominations for the No Guff Spirit Award early this month.
The winner of the No Guff Spirit Award is a member of the community who always has a positive attitude, never speaks ill of others and often helps other members of the community. Although nominations are closed, the winner will be announced during the No Guff Assembly at Falmouth High School on Friday, January 31.
"No Guff week has grown from a small school-based activity to a community-based event sharing awareness and support for good behavior. In this "No Place for Hate" community, No Guff week has become a beacon of positive energy for citizens young and old," said Troy BG Clarkson, Falmouth resident and former town selectman.