Strudthoff finding smiles throughout MHS

Anusha Vadlamani | Staff Writer

Photographing 360 smiles in 180 days is no easy task, but Bud Strudthoff is welcoming the challenge.

Strudthoff, an eleventh grade intervention specialist, is taking the time to highlight student happiness through his project “360 Smiles.” In a project that is new to Mason this year, Strudthoff photographs two students he sees smiling each day and asks for the reason behind their smile. He later posts the pictures and the students’ responses on Twitter under the hashtag “360 Smiles.”

The ultimate goal for Strudthoff is to be able to photograph and talk to two students a day for all of the 180 school days for a total of 360 smiles. He is achieving his goal by choosing a different classroom each day and asking students within the class if they had something to smile about. An aspect of the project that Strudthoff said an important aspect to focus on when photographing students is to represent the diversity of Mason.

“I tried to get a true cross section of the Mason population. It could be anything from work-study students to students in AP calculus, to football players,” Strudthoff said. “Ultimately I was just trying to get a broad picture of everyone.”


Intervention specialist Bud Strudthoff photographs junior Kevin Tang for one of his 360 smiles.


The project is a reinforcement of the positive direction that Mason High School is trying to move forward in this year. Strudthoff said the project would help contribute to and advance the constructive atmosphere of the building.

“One of the things that we’re focusing on as a building this year is really embracing a positive climate and a culture within the building, and that’s really what started it for me,” Strudthoff said. “Just to remind people to be light and fun and that it’s okay to not be serious all the time.”

The inspiration to start the project was to focus on the simple acts that caused people to smile, which, Strudthoff said, allowed the students to reflect on their positive experiences.

“It was ultimately just thinking about the little things everyday that make people happy and make people smile. I think a lot of the time we just go through our day and follow the same routine,” Strudthoff said. “It was a quick and easy way to make people think about what actually had an impact on them, what made them happy, what made them smile that day.”

The project is meant to bring emphasis to the evolving approach Mason High School is taking towards student awareness. Senior Lauren Masters said she was pleasantly surprised when Strudthoff approached her to ask for the reason behind her smile.

“I felt as though he was really interested in what I had to say and was really genuinely curious about what I had to say,” said Masters. “It made me reflect on what made my day and what actually made me smile.”

The most rewarding experience for Strudthoff, so far, has been being able to see that students, such as freshman Maleah Kaneshiro, are understanding and supporting his message. She encouraged her peers to talk to Strudthoff and to also have their picture taken when he approached them in class.

“I checked in with a class the other day and I was trying to see who I could photograph that day and a girl was like ‘Oh I already had my picture taken you guys should do it too, it’s really awesome,” Strudthoff said. “The fact that she was an advocate for it, that made me happy.”

Kaneshiro said she is an advocate for Strudthoff’s project because it offers the motivation to push through the struggles of high school.

“A lot of negative stuff happens at school, and sometimes people are just mean,” Kaneshiro said. “When he was positive it really helped a lot because it showed that people could talk to him and that he’s a good person that cares.”

Senior Tamara Montes said Strudthoff’s project benefits students by helping them to focus on the bright features of their day, which aids in maximizing their optimism.

“He’s trying to find the good things in the days even though we all have really bad days and bad moments in the days,” Montes said. “I think it’s really neat that he’s pulling good things and good smiles because smiles make people smile.”