The Smile Project spreads kindness throughout community


Betsy Bertonazzi

Juniors Ula Bazikas, Natalie Kostiw and Austeja Bazikas begin a Smile Project meeting as adviser Aimee Selby looks on.

Juniors Austeja Bazikas, Ula Bazikas and Natalie Kostiw started The Smile Project as a way to give students an opportunity to help others, relieve stress and meet new people.

Spreading positivity throughout the school community is not the club’s only goal. They also strive to help those in need, whether it be through a holiday toy drive hosted earlier this year or an upcoming bake sale to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Health during May, which is Mental Health Awareness month.

“Our mission is to spread kindness and better the school community,” Ula Bazikas said.

At the beginning of the meetings the members will play games, color or meditate and then they transition into their topic on how to make the school a better place. 

The Smile Project has spread kindness throughout the school and on their Instagram (@smile.project.arhs) in various ways, such as inspirational quotes.

“I think we just want to impact the school,” Kostiw said. “We put around kindness posters, and put sticky notes on teachers’ doors with kind quotes.” 

The project started because the leaders thought that after COVID-19 many people were distant from each other and they wanted to make it easier for people to make connections. 

During the holidays, the club hosted a toy drive which collected almost 100 toys, or enough to fill up “the trunk of a minivan” according to Kostiw, and donated them to the Just Because Project in Hopkinton.

“I feel like we’ve made pretty good progress from the beginning,” Austeja Bazikas said. “We had all these ideas and we did the toy drive, which was a pretty big accomplishment for us.” 

The club’s adviser, science teacher Aimee Selby, was excited to take on the role of adviser because she appreciates that the group members are all passionate about helping others, creating a positive environment and making an impact. 

“As soon as I found out about it and what they were doing, I was so impressed with them,” Selby said. “They are so driven and they are so organized, and every week I know what they are going to do; they have goals.”

Students interested in joining The Smile Project and making a positive impact can stop by a meeting in Selby’s classroom, D215, every Thursday after school. The meetings tend to run for about half an hour and students can go to however many meetings they want because the club is low commitment and flexible. 

“People come to our meetings and are just laughing and having fun, and it’s a good opportunity to decrease stress,” Austeja Bazikas said.