'Talk to Me' is theme of Gunn T-shirt project

Two seniors promote 'more open communication' following suicide cluster

In rainbow colors, an artful profile of a human face speaks the words: "Talk to Me."

That is the theme of a T-shirt project launched by two Gunn High School seniors following the third CalTrain death of a Palo Alto student in three months.

The students, Miles Mathews and Sam Zeif, began selling their hand-stenciled T-shirts to fellow Gunn students Thursday during lunch break.

"The idea first came to mind after the latest suicide the week before school started," Zeif said. "It became apparent that this was not going to go away without some sort of involvement.

"So we went ahead with this plan that combined our strength of making T-shirts and the message we wanted to put out, which is communication among the Gunn community."

"We've always been designing T-shirts, the two of us," Mathews said.

Using a Mylar stencil hinged to a board, the boys created a "really durable rig" that could generate a shirt every two minutes. The shirts are white, with the human profile printed in a wide array of colors. All of them say "talk to me."

Zeif and Mathews already have stenciled 200 shirts they plan to sell for $5 apiece. If demand is greater, they will make more.

"We'd like to make as many as possible because the more students that have this shirt the greater the message will be," Zeif said.

In a brief video about the project, Zeif and Mathews say: "Sometimes we just need someone to talk to, so lend your ears and open up. Be the change you wish to see at Gunn."

Mathews, who is Senior Class President, worked to clear the project with the Student Executive Council. Zeif is a member of the yearbook staff and both boys play varsity soccer.

Once costs are covered, Mathews and Zeif plan to donate all proceeds to Kara, a Palo Alto grief support and education group. Others wishing to support the project should make checks payable to Gunn High School and mark them "Shirt Project." Checks should be sent to Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, 94306, Attention: Shirt Project.

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Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Good job. I hope parents buy these tshirts and think of it as a mantra with their children. I know the pressure of being a kid and feeling lost. Kids like this are a great example, and it is a positive step. Hopefully their momentum will keep going. Guidance counsellors, do more than just making yourselves available, go out and seek kids who might have issues because if they dont know how to deal, they are probably going to internalize and the doubt will eat them up inside.

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Wonderful idea and I hope these are also made available to Paly students. This is something that can be a unifying move between our two high schools. Paly had 2 suicides on the tracks within the past 8 years and many Paly students knew the other students from middle school days. Paly is also so close to the tracks that there are often times teachers have to stop talking until after a train goes by and the sound of the warning bells is ominiously tolerated, so this move at Paly would really support all Palo Alto youth.

Like this comment
Posted by Melyssa
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:39 pm

this is so great... my sister goes to gunn and she's almost definetly going to buy one.

Like this comment
Posted by Pgee
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Can Peter Gabriel's "Come Talk to Me" be the theme song too? I still love the Peter Gunn song though; do they still play it at the football games?

Like this comment
Posted by Norm
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Norm is a registered user.

A suggestion about who should be sought for help --- those who have been out and back. They know the path to there and return.

Like this comment
Posted by PJ
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 30, 2009 at 5:46 pm

wearing mine at the moment, thanks miles

Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Junior
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm

This is such a great idea. Unlike trying to blanket all train crossings with police that will never be able to prevent each and every attempt, getting to the root of the problem and helping people work together and alleviate the causes of the problems as they happen is much smarter. I know I'll be buying one

Like this comment
Posted by Lolita
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Human Relations Promoter Of Shirts
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:00 pm

This is an active call to action, encouraging communication within our community. These shirts will influence more people to take that extra second and slow down their lives in order to sit and talk to those that could possibly need help. Thanks for taking the time to read this article and appreciate the activists Sam Zeif and Miles Mathews. $5 can go a long way, especially when the message is an invitation that could save a life.

Like this comment
Posted by gunn alumn
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 12:28 am

Kudos to Miles and Sam! Both are great kids and this is an outstanding idea.

Like this comment
Posted by Jenny Ross
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 1, 2009 at 8:05 am

What a wonderful idea! Where can I buy my t-shirt? I think the larger local community beyond Palo Alto would be equally interested in buying these t-shirts to promote and support this cause since adolescent stress and emotional problems are epidemic in the entire area.

Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 1, 2009 at 9:09 am

The shirts should be made available at Paly, and Menlo Atherton. Since what these kids have done is such a step, maybe they could team up with a counselor and/or a guidance counselor and be allowed to speak at the three local schools. Tell other students that peers care about them and that if they open up and walk through the door, people are going to listen. I just think this is a great effort by these students and a movement that needs to be supported.

Like this comment
Posted by A Palo Alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm

We adults need our own slogan: When the kids talk, listen.

Like this comment
Posted by Heartened
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2009 at 11:48 am

And so glad to see different colors and stripes on each silhouette. It takes your message even further. Heartfelt thank you to the students.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria Simbirsky
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:10 am

What a wonderful idea! I'm a Gunn alum from 2008 and would love one of these shirts. I hope you will soon make them available to the greater community. A lot of us are still greatly affected by the tragedies, even if we are no longer in Palo Alto or students of Gunn.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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