GHS senior receives inaugural anti-bullying scholarship

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Linda Sutherland (left), head of GCSC guidance Bill Smith, Superintendent Dawn Puckett, GHS principal Russ Hesler and GHS Senior Sydney Smiley celebrate the inaugural anti-bullying scholarship. The award, presented to Smiley, is the beginning of the Linda Sutherland Anti-bullying College Scholarship and is intended to reward high school seniors for their stance in preventing bullying. Sutherland created the scholarship as a way to take her own experiences with bullying and turn them into something positive. Smiley is enrolled at the University of Indianapolis where she hopes to pursue sports marketing. (Photo by KYLE HOLLINGER)

When the clock strikes 9 p.m. each night, Greencastle High School senior Sydney Smiley has already accomplished a lot more than one might guess.

In addition to the busy schedule of a high school student, Smiley takes karate lessons, kickboxing classes, she spars on the weekends, helps teach martial arts to kids ages 3-15, regularly goes to Bible study and is an intern at the chiropractic clinic of David G. Mohr in Greencastle.

And as of Monday, she'd also been given the inaugural Linda Sutherland Anti-bullying College Scholarship, good for $1,000 toward the sports marketing education that Smiley hopes to receive from the University of Indianapolis.

Daughter of Heather and Steve Smiley of Greencastle, Sydney was selected for her views and actions on bullying at all levels of society.

"I try to make sure everyone is nice because I don't like seeing people bullied," Smiley said.

"I like people to be happy and to be treated right and I don't like it when people pick on each other or talk bad about each other so I do try to stop people from doing that. You know, 'The Golden Rule.'"

Sutherland was a victim of traumatic bullying she said, and wanted to turn her own ordeal into a positive experience.

"My goal today and moving forward is to help highlight students courageous enough to stand up for those being bullied and encourage students in sharing the important message of zero tolerance for bullying of all kinds," she said as part of the check presentation to Smiley on Monday morning.

Superintendent Dawn Puckett, GHS principal Russ Hesler and head of GHS guidance Bill Smith were also in attendance to honor Smiley, and each of them gave support for the new scholarship and for Smiley as its first recipient.

"Sydney is one of our best students not just for academics but for her leadership in so many ways and we are very proud of her," Hesler said.

"Sydney is just getting started. Look for Sydney to continue her excellent track record at the University of Indianapolis," Smith added.

Greencastle schools have campaigned heavily against bullying, putting on events and competitions that have included Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray to help spread the idea that "it takes a community" to stop bullying.

The program began at Greencastle Middle School in 2008 through a Safe Haven Grant and has aimed the message toward witnesses of bullying.

"The whole focus is the bystander," Puckett told the Banner Graphic.

"Typically you have a bully and a victim and a lot of people watching."

Smiley's approach to treat everyone the way they should be treated and standing up for those who are being bullied embodies that message.

"This is such a generous offer and program to establish. We have been working very hard as a school district to take a stand against bullying," Puckett said.

"This scholarship highlights our commitment as we continue to stand up against bullying in our schools. This is such great support for what we believe to be important and we appreciate that."

With the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) estimating that one in three students are bullied in school, more than 70 percent witness bullying in high school and approximately 30 percent of students admit to having bullied someone, the issue is one of particular concern for schools and communities-at-large.

Though bullying is typically associated with school-age kids, it also happens to people of all ages, a fact Sutherland hopes to address as part of the scholarship program and her fight against bullying.

One of her aims is "to support the global education campaign through the news with a goal of eradicating bullying among humans of every age."

It seems that wherever and whenever bullying happens, a big factor in stopping the activity appears to lie in bystanders taking action.

The DHHS reports that about 57 percent of bullying stops within 10 seconds if a person intervenes.

Sutherland was happy to honor Smiley for her active role in helping to curb bullying rates and through stopping bullying through intervention.

"I am so very proud to name you the first recipient of the Linda Sutherland Anti-Bullying College Scholarship. Your leadership in both standing up for those bullied, as well as spreading the word that bullying will not be tolerated in school and in your community is very courageous and deserves to be recognized," Sutherland said.

Smiley also had something to tell the group.

"I am humbled Mrs. Sutherland chose me as the first recipient of the Linda Sutherland Anti-Bullying College Scholarship and I say thank you from the bottom of my heart," she said.

"The anti-bullying scholarship will help me pay for my college education but it also highlights the importance of standing up for those are bullied everywhere."

Smiley will begin her collegiate career at the University of Indianapolis in the fall of 2015.

(For more information on GCSC Anti-Bullying, read our past story on the subject at

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