Richards SAAD members offer OLHMS students positive advice

  • Written by Kelly White

Photo by Kelly White

Isabella Smykowski, 14, participates in an interactive group activity designed by Richards High School SADD members last Thursday morning at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School in Oak Lawn.

(slugged, “olhms students”)

Photo by Kelly White

Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students were able to listen to presentations from the Richards High School SADD Club last Thursday afternoon at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. 


Kaile Pyzynski entered Richards High School as a freshman this past fall, knowing she wanted to make a difference. Upon hearing about the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club, she joined immediately.

SADD is a club for students interested in making positive life choices during their high school experience and beyond, into their college and adult years.

“It’s a club that can help with school, including the transition into high school, which can be difficult, and in life in general,” said Pyzynski, 15, of Chicago Ridge.

She is currently just one of the 26 members of the club that are paving the way towards positive life choices for both high school and younger students in neighboring middle schools.

Members of the SADD. Club organized and led an event at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, 5345 W. 99th St., Oak Lawn, last Thursday for all sixth- seventh- and eighth-graders. This was the club’s first time presenting at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School (OLHMS).

The goal of the experience was to provide OLHMS students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, kindness to others, tolerance, and self-image.

The main focus of the presentation was developed around tolerance and kindness, according to Steve Haddad, faculty sponsor of SADD and math teacher at Richards.

We are trying to have a ripple effect of making good choices and creating a positive bully-free environment,” Haddad said. “This particular program was so unique because of the fact that high school students presented to the middle school students.”

SADD students ran discussions, team-building activities and games, designed around possible negative obstacles that can appear to middle school students. They focused on teaching the youngsters how to make an impact by being a positive role model and showed them how to make good choices while having fun at the same time.

“Being a part of SADD really brings us together,” said Miranda Hartell, 18, of Chicago Ridge. “It’s a really positive club that I’m proud to be a part of, and it spreads the word about the consequences of destructive life decisions.”

SADD member Damian Espinosa agreed.

“The club helps create individuality and gives you the opportunity to learn your voice,” said Espinosa, 15, of Chicago Ridge. “Everyone is different, and the club really emphasizes the fact that everyone should respect each other. This alone creates a strong bond among the members.”

OLHMS students were just as excited about the opportunity to talk with Richards’ students, including 14-year-old Isabella Smykowski.

“I like that they came out to show us what the high school transition was like for them and that they talked about some of the experiences they’ve personally been through,” said Smykowski, of Oak Lawn.

Last Thursday’s event at OLHMS also highlighted two guest speakers, Lloyd Bachrach and Carl Olson, who were both contacted by SADD.

Living with a congenital bone deficiency, Bachrach refused to let his physical limitations get the best of him. At a young age, he developed a passion for sports and by his teen years, he began to excel in gymnastics, competing against able-body gymnasts. He has won 25 gold, 27 silver and 20 bronze medals in various competitions, including the Prairie State Games, Chicago Park District Gymnastics on the Beach, and the Midwest Open. He was also a member of the 1996 U.S. Paralympic Team and competed in sit volleyball in the 1996 Atlanta games.

“Kids definitely won’t forget him,” said Bob McParland, public information specialist at Community High School District 218.

Olson, best known as Carl “Energizer” Olson, is a speaker, trainer and author. He has spent more than 30 years in leadership education and founded his self-proclaimed “Energizer Olson” in 1993, by drawing from his successful background and experience as an educator, coach, administrator and leadership trainer. Among many successful career accomplishments, Olson was an adviser for the National Association of School Councils Leadership Training Center.

Olson’s presentation last Thursday was designed to empower others for success by using motivation, attitude and sound current theory and practice.