Despite the fact I have always considered myself an observant person, I suppose I let a lot of things go unseen. When you’re a teenager, you’re accustomed to believing you’re completely alone in the world and that nobody can understand or relate to you. I also had this mindset until I attended T.A.L.K. (“Teens Activating the Language of Kindness”). I decided to go after one of my friends told me how fun it was, and that I found out half the people I knew were also going. It came as the biggest shock to me that I in fact did not know remotely anything about the people that I knew.  It opened my eyes to the fact that so many people have hidden struggles, and that I wasn’t alone.

T.A.L.K. is one of the biggest events hosted by B.I.O.N.I.C, while each high schooler can only attend once, joining the club allows them to become fully trained student leaders and run the event which further inspires students to join the cause. Students involved in  B.I.O.N.I.C, which stands for “Believe It Or, Not I Care,” have the chance to give back to their community while also gaining experience for themselves. The program focuses on connecting each other to form a community and develop a safe environment for students to navigate high school. 

B.I.O.N.I.C was formed in the late ‘90s by Oswego’s Ralph Mitchner, who was the social worker at the time. After a few tough years at the school, Mitchner decided students needed a way to feel connected and safe with their peers, and thus B.I.O.N.I.C was born. The club positively impacts all aspects of the community, through events like T.A.L.K or H.I.K.E, general fundraising, and more. All members focus on different branches of the club with a board leading their activities. 

In 2001, the T.A.L.K. program was started as a way for the club to increase its outreach. T.A.L.K. happens three times a year, with the first session being a training session for new mentors. The program starts with games and icebreakers that then eases into a much deeper, emotional discussion, in which students are provided an outlet to express whatever they are feeling at the time. With guest speakers and a variety of fun games, it gives students a break from their everyday stressors and helps to form lasting connections. 

T.A.L.K. lasts the whole school day, and counseling is available by social work staff after. The program emphasizes to students that they are not alone and offers outlets of support to any student that believes otherwise. 

“It allows you to open your mind to people who are going through different things, and you can get different perspectives on what you’re going through,” senior and B.I.O.N.I.C board member Kaitlyn Jobes says.

Senior James Medernach, another one of B.I.O.N.I.C’s board members, felt anxious entering his freshmen year, a worry that most teenagers go through when making the transition from middle school to high school. 

“My biggest fear was that I was going to be alone,” Medernach says.

But after discovering his passion for helping others through B.I.O.N.I.C, Medernach realized what a close knit community he was surrounded by. 

T.A.L.K. is not the only large event hosted by B.I.O.N.I.C. Members from the club also spread their kindness to elementary school students throughout the district. The H.I.K.E. program (“Heroes Invested in Kindness Everyday”) was started in 2015 by Margaret Fehrenbacher and OHS Kinetic Wellness teacher Wendy Monn. 

With 178 trained mentors, H.I.K.E. is one of the biggest events hosted by B.I.O.N.I.C, which involves OHS students spreading kindness and teaching students about the power their words hold. It’s the elementary-level equivalent of T.A.L.K., with fun games, kindness activities, and peer leadership. 

“We have two and a half hours to positively change their community,” Monn says.

H.I.K.E. also provides a way for the elementary students to become closer with one another and learn the impact they have on the world. Most young people don’t understand their words’ effects, which can be detrimental to the mental health of others, so sometimes that extra, peer-taught reminder can be crucial. 

“You see some kids walk in acting like they’re too good for this program, and at the end of the day, you see them talking to people, saying, ‘This was so awesome!’” senior Quinn Baker says.

B.I.O.N.I.C. club will continue its legacy among students for years to come. Members will always carry with them the kindness and sense of community created within the club and remember that they will never truly be alone. 

“It shows that no matter where you are, and who you are with, there’s always going to be someone that has your back,” Medernach says.

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Hello! I'm Fionnuala Quinn. I'm currently a sophomore at OHS and this is my first year of journalism. Apart from journalism, I am involved in Cross Country, Track and Feild, and Best Buddies.


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