Return to Headlines

No Guff 2023 Celebrates Kindness

No Guff 2023 Celebrates Kindness

By Sarah E. Murphy

Lily MatthewsWhat started as a one-day event at Falmouth High School in 2002 has become a cornerstone of Falmouth Public Schools and the Falmouth community. 

The history of No Guff dates back to the 2000-2001 school year, when now retired Falmouth High School Adjustment Counselor Greg Gilbert was compelled to take action after mediating hundreds of conflicts throughout his career at FHS involving students speaking negatively about  each other. 

Mr. Gilbert formed a committee of students to help foster a more positive atmosphere at the school, and to create a slogan that would encapsulate their mission. One of the members, John Domingos, shared one of his grandfather’s favorite expressions: “don’t give me any guff,” and the simple message resonated. 

FHS graphics teacher Doug Riebesehl enlisted students to design T-shirts to wear as a sign of unity at the inaugural No Guff school rally, which he produced with his own funds. Shortly after the first No Guff celebration, Mr. Riebesehl, who was known for his ability to make people feel good about themselves, died tragically in a motorcycle accident. His legacy of kindness lives on in the No Guff movement, which was extended to a week-long celebration in 2010, and also expanded to involve the local community with a Community Spirit Award. 

No Guff is centered around a student pledge, promising not to speak or text unkindly about anyone for the duration of No Guff week. It also offers them a chance to celebrate their peers and the faculty and staff who make a positive impact in the FPS community by recognizing them with the No Guff award. 

This year, for the first time in the No Guff tradition, the slogan and T-shirt design were chosen by a committee composed of past No Guff award recipients. Design submissions were created by students in Larisa Hart’s FHS graphics class in response to the 2023 No Guff theme: Believe in Kindness. 

Lily Matthews, a sophomore at FHS, won the design contest, for an image she envisioned to reflect the sentiment of the theme. She opted to show three figures standing in solidarity because, in her estimation, being respectful shouldn’t be complicated. 

“I didn’t want my design to be too busy, because kindness isn’t something you should have to think too much about,” she said. 

“I strongly believe in kindness, and that you should always treat someone with kindness. I decided to make this shirt simple, just like its meaning.” 

The designation holds special significance for Lily, who is also a past recipient of the No Guff award, which she received as a seventh-grader at Lawrence School. 

“It feels really good to be nominated for something by my peers, and to know they think of me as someone who represents No Guff, and what it stands for,” she said. 

“There were a lot of really cool designs, and I’m honored and excited that I won.” 

Larisa Hart, who serves on the No Guff planning committee, approaches the No Guff design contest like any other class project. She provides her students with a history of the event, the necessary elements to be included on the T-shirt, and the need for the design. The end goal is to create a clean, concise, and impactful message.

The shirts also include the logos of community sponsors Cape Cod Aggregates and Cavossa Disposal Corporation, both of which have supported the initiative for several years by underwriting the cost of the shirts. 

Ms. Hart believes the students’ enthusiasm for designing the No Guff T-shirt is a reflection of their connection to the brand they’re marketing.  

“These students have been brought up with No Guff, beginning in elementary school, and a few of this year’s submissions were created by former winners of the No Guff award. It’s been part of their culture throughout their schooling, and you can see the ownership in this contest,” she said. 

“When they tell me about winning the No Guff award, that pride comes through. It’s really nice.”

Tucker Morton’s design features two figures - one helping the other up - and the tagline, “It starts with yourself.” 

“This action represents the spread of kindness and helpfulness by taking action that affects others in a positive way,” he said. 

Marcella de Paula enclosed the slogan in the center of a large heart. 

“My design is a heart, because a heart to me symbolizes love, and to show love you need to demonstrate kindness,” she said. 

Julio Espada used waves as a nod to the school mascot. 

“It is about kindness, and how we should embrace the feeling of kindness, and to keep that Clipper spirit,” he said. 

This will be the first No Guff celebration for Falmouth High School Principal Alan Harris, who began his position last summer. When Dr. Harris was considering applying, No Guff was one of the characteristics of FHS that stood out to him the most. 

“It embodied to me the best we do in schools - students and teachers deciding ‘there’s something that’s challenging here, and we should make it better.’ And then making it better. I think that’s one of the coolest things kids learn to do, and why educators are amazing,” he said. 

“Seeing both Greg and Doug, and the impact they had, I was moved by it.” 

Dr. Harris credited FHS Student Activities/Athletics Secretary Amy McKenzie and Superintendent of Schools Lori Duerr for inviting past No Guff winners from FHS and Lawrence to plan the 2023 event, which will be the method moving forward. 

“I”m so excited that the purveyors of this tradition are the ones who came up with this year’s theme. By having them involved, we’re celebrating how it all began, and we’re honoring the legacy of No Guff,” he said. 

Teagan Lind, a junior at FHS, called it an honor to be associated with the long-standing tradition in Falmouth Public Schools. 

“This year I was even lucky enough to be involved in the process of developing the slogan and T-shirt for No Guff Week, and it was a blast. Getting an award for anything is amazing, but getting an award that your peers select you for is one of the best feelings. The No Guff award is important to me because it recognizes my values and the person I try to be. Every day I try to spread kindness, positivity, and be inclusive of all my peers and teachers,” she said. 

“No Guff is a unique thing that the Falmouth school system has, and I am proud to be a part of a community that values kindness and respect.”

No Guff 2023 is scheduled for Monday, January 30 to Friday, February 3. 

No Guff 2023 Planning Committee 


  • Stephanie Andrade (Lawrence)
  • Lori Duerr (Admin)
  • Larisa Hart (FHS)
  • Amy McKenzie (FHS)
  • Alain Moniz (FHS)
  • Lindsay Ruthven (FHS)
  • Victoria Santos (Lawrence)
  • Susan Schmidt  (FHS)


  • Roger Bowman (FHS)
  • Lukas Bushy (Lawrence)
  • Sam Collins (FHS)
  • Charles Hostetter (FHS)
  • Jane Hostetter (FHS)
  • Samantha Irving (Lawrence)
  • Joseph Ledwick (Lawrence)
  • Maureen Lind (Lawrence)
  • Teagan Lind (FHS)
  • Liam Matthews (Lawrence)
  • Connor Oliver (FHS)


Sarah E. Murphy