You may have noticed the lockers being decorated with hearts and messages or the new signs that were hung around the school? Students may have enjoyed hot chocolate this morning with messages about Mental Illness and Substance Abuse on them to promote education. Parents may have been welcomed with hot coffee and positive messages to thank them for being involved! 

Our Stand Together group worked hard after school on Thursday with Ms. Dunmire to prepare for today and decorated every 4th locker and placed a green sticker on every cup of hot chocolate. Those people receiving the green dot also got candy to symbolize the one in every four youth who are impacted by mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.  

In today's lunches Stand Together made a "LOVE YA SELF" photo booth, they promoted a Self Love activity Station and gave students a wristband if they signed our pledge. The wristbands symbolize that you stand with the 1 in every 4 youth who are impacted by a Mental Illness or Substance Abuse. Stand Together also decorated each table with a table tent! Those had important facts about Mental Illness / Substance Abuse that would give student’s insight to others struggling. Remember, knowledge is power!

Stand Together stands with the one in four students and hope you will too!  Together, we can really make a change in our school! Stay Tuned for more Stand Together fun in the near future!#TogetherweRise #StandTogether

Heinz History Center

Our Stand Together Team was recognized today along side of other area schools at the Heinz History Center for their accomplishments throughout the year. Our students presented to a room full of high school students, advisors, business professionals and public health supporters about the projects that they implemented throughout the year with the $1,000 grant that they received from the county’s Office of Behavioral Health. 5th grade, Abby Novak and 8th grader, Bre Francis spoke fluently to the crowd about our accomplishments. We also had a booth set up of activities that students could try to get a feel for what we did all year long. Our Middle School was the only Middle School present today and we were met by words of admiration, support and positivity for our efforts to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse disorders at our school. Great job, everyone! Ms. Dunmire-Kuftic received a plague to recognize the group that will be displayed back at the school. 

Game On!

Stand Together held its Final March Breaking Barriers Challenge game today period 9 between Ms. Olson and Mr. Owston’s Homerooms. 


Congratulations to Mr. Owston’s homeroom who beat Ms. Olson’s homeroom by 4 points (20-16). It was a great game played by all! Also, thank you to the teachers who agreed to play (Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Dunmire, Mr. Tozzi, Mr. Karadus, Mr. Large, and Mr. Kanz), Coach Dunmire who agreed to Referee, Mr. Johnson who MC’d the event and Mr. Owston who ran the scoreboard!


This was a culminating event

that began in February where each homeroom participated by answering a series of 25 questions surrounding the topic of Mental Illness and shooting a basketball 25 times. Each round, teams were eliminated until today’s final match where students were joined by teachers in a real basketball game in the Middle School gym in front of their peers! 



Stand Together is a group of 28 SVMS Students whose goal is to raise awareness on Mental Illness and Substance Abuse and promote acceptance within our school.  These 28 students were awarded $1,000 to plan and implement projects throughout the year in our school.  This was one of them! 


Last but not least, we were able to raise $263 to donate to Steel Valley Wellness as part of our basketball dress down day in an effort for Stand Together to give back to our community.  SV Wellness provides counseling and therapy sessions in our community. 

Breaking Barriers

Students in Stand Together set up for the last time this year during the lunches for their “Breaking Barriers” Basketball Challenge today. Not only did they quiz students through their prize wheel on their Mental Health/Substance Abuse knowledge, they also had a photo booth and basketball hoop set up with candy and other incentives for students to participate in. Stand Together is currently running a March “Breaking Barriers” Basketball Tournament in the Middle School where we are down to the final four homeroom teams. Mr. Large, Mr. Owston, Ms. Varacalli, and Ms. Olson all are competing for the final round that will take place on March 27th! “Our goal? To break down stigma surrounding mental illness by educating our peers through interactive games throughout the year, said Stand Together Advisor, Ms. Dunmire-Kuftic. Good Luck to all of our teams! “

Love Yourself Challenge

Stand Together completed their “Love Yourself” Challenge week by attending the girls basketball game today! They had a booth set up full of music, games and sweet treats! In support, the girls basketball team wore green sweat bands to “break barriers” against mental illness and promote acceptance of all kids at our school! Thanks for a great week and remember to always be the nice kid! You never know what others are going through!

Love Yourself Door Decorating Contest

Congratulations Dr. Fenyus' room for winning the Stand Together "Love Yourself" Door Decorating Contest! Dr. Fenyus' door focused on eating disorders.  Here are some facts about eating disorders that you should know:

  • 95% of people who suffer from eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • 70% of people who have an eating disorder will not seek treatment for one reason or another.
  • 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teenage boys will engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors.
  • Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder tend to run in families.
  • 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness

Everyone did a fabulous job and we hope you enjoyed learning about the various mental health disorders while having fun decorating their homeroom door.  Thanks to everyone who participated!  

Dr. Fenyus' homeroom will enjoy donuts Monday morning as a reward for their hard work!  Great job!  


Valentine's Day

Stand Together "Shared the Love" today by challenging the students at Steel Valley Middle School in lunch today to color a Valentine in order to decorate their friend's lockers tomorrow for the holiday.  They also had some fun with friends using the photo booth we created.  For their good deed and "sharing their love" to friends, students were given a sweet treat and were entered into a drawing for a bigger candy bar!  The students had a blast!  The sign in the cafe hung with the day's theme of "Being the Nice Kid".  We want students at Steel Valley Middle School to accept each other and share kindness by being the nice kid!  Happy Valentine's Day from Stand Together!

Merry Grinch-mas

Today Stand Together held their second display during all of the lunches at the middle school.  Stand Together is a group of middle school students who focuse on mental illness and substance abuse awareness and promotes a caring and understanding environment for all students to feel a part of our school.

Titled Merry GRINChmas, Stand Together chose to gain participation from the students through a photo booth, PING challenges that could earn them prizes after they completed tasks,and having our Pledge signing, all while playing festive holiday music.  It was a success and students really enjoyed the booth while learning about one another and what Stand Together is all about.

Stand Together wishes everyone happy holidays!  We hope that you have a joyous and relaxing break full of fun, laughter and love.

Words Matter

Stand Together kicked off their first official in school project by spreading their “Words Matter” message. Meaning-names that you call others can hurt them and/or offend them or someone close to them. This message stemmed from a previous project done by Dr. Fenyus, Mrs. Mcgrew and Mrs. Churilla earlier this year! The Stand Together team wore their green shirts reading “Wear Green. Be Proud. I stand with 1:4 people who suffer from Mental Illness. The kids had table tents set up on the cafeteria tables with definitions of various mental illnesses and words that could hurt someone were displayed. In order to gain a “words matter” bracelet, students needed to sign the Stand Together pledge. They also had a trivia game set up to educate students on various mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. It was a great day! Stand Together is an organization at SVMS funded by the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health.

Students participating in spinning wheel game

Another view of students doing the spinning wheel game

Stand Together

The Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health has partnered with the Middle School students for its "StandTogether" initiative for the fourth year. The objectives of Stand Together are to decrease negative attitudes and beliefs among adolescents towards peers and adults with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, decrease social distance between adolescents and their peers who have mental illness and/or substance use disorder, and encourage adolescents to make positive change.

Steel Valley Middle School chose to bring Stand Together to our school to reduce negative beliefs and attitudes towards youth who have a mental illness in our communities by promoting a healthy, caring atmosphere in our schools. Stigma causes shame and embarrassment for youth and they experience its impact through ostracism, social isolation, depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm.   Our goal is to support ALL students and community members and bring students together promoting healthy and happy relationships. 

On October 3 and 9th, 30 Middle School students were trained by Ms. Danyelle and Ms. Candace from the Allegheny County of Behavioral Health offices on Stand Together and it’s ideation.  Students were very receptive to the idea and eager to help build a sense of community within their school. These concepts are founded on the principles of bringing everyone together and being a good person.  We too are trying to ignite a change in our community and what better way to do so than to join forces.