The judgement doesn’t get to Zach Dulny


Kate Lawrence, Writer, Online Editor

He is a glowing streak of neon yellow in the hallways on a Spirit Day. A person who moves at a frenetic pace, always busy, always moving, always just Zach. He speaks loudly, without periods, without pause.

“I wear full neon and people are like ‘wow, your clothes are brighter than my future’ I’ve heard that one 52 times, people take snapchats of me because no one ever sees people in a weird outfit like that,” junior Zach Dulny said without taking a single breath.

I’d describe myself as extra-ordinary, or extraordinary,” he continued. “An enigma, or quirky or… annoying is a word people describe me with.”

Students know Dulny as a regular feature on their Twitter feed as a nominee for spirit day. They know him from theater, where he both directs and acts.They know him as the boy running up during lunch and passing periods, trying to strike up a conversation with anyone who will join in. He is an energetic aura from the second he wakes up.

“I wake up and, if I’m feeling good that day, I’ll jump off my bed,” Dulny said. “Then I’ll hop in the shower, I’ll sing at least three songs, if it’s a spirit day, I’ll do my makeup and stuff.”

            Dulny is a perpetual participant in Spirit Days. He has acquired the most spirit day wins, with 15 under his belt. During his freshman year, he won a whole week of spirit days.        

             “I’ve won because I try my gosh darn hardest,” Dulny said. “I have a lot of things saved up from costumes and I’ll sometimes go buy things the night before. I do as much as I can to research and find out what meets the category so that I can come the next day and do it. I used to have to beg people to vote for me because I wasn’t the popular kid freshman year at all and people didn’t know my name.”

Another one of Dulny’s quirks is his marbles. Throughout the year, he buys bags of marbles and attaches a note: “Zach’s marbles, call if found,” and lists his phone number. People call Dulny to tell him he lost his marbles. It’s just one more way Dulny tries to make school days more fun.

People see Dulny as an outgoing and loud person, but students don’t see how often he is judged for being himself.

“They don’t understand that I’m still a person,” Dulny said. “A lot of people are like ‘God, that’s the annoying kid that wears neon.”

But most people don’t see what life is really like for him. He has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which makes him jumpy and keeps him moving whether that is constantly jiggling his knee or throwing his hands in the air when he greets people. He also has dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects his writing, causing difficulties with spelling, handwriting and putting thoughts on paper.

“My peers call it ‘chicken scratches’,” Dulny explained. “I have to type everything so my teachers can read it. I can’t even read my own handwriting. Anything involving paper and pencil is a no. I’ve excelled in typing, but I write worse every day. It’s difficult to do anything when you’re inhibited by the fact you can’t write with your hands.”

Finally, Dulny has an extra chromosome he named Steve. He describes it as just an interesting thing about him, as it does not seem to affect him.

“My mind is like Old Shawnee Days, there is a lot going on —  a lot of flashing lights, a lot of spinning, you never know if something is gonna break down in there,” Dulny said.

When he hears negative comments, he brushes it off and uses it as motivation to continue being himself.

“He has courage,” sophomore Grace Rippee said. “I think people act a certain way because they are afraid of what would happen if they acted a different way. Zach is not afraid of anyone and he is himself, which I think is really rare in high school.”

School is just one place where Dulny isn’t afraid to be himself. He is consistent in making sure people are happy and have someone to talk to.

“Zach is always around when you need him,” Rippee said. “He gives great advice. I think he’s pretty close to the perfect friend.”

Whether Dulny is dressed in neon clothes, jumping around school saying “hi” or just offering people advice, he creates new ways to enjoy the seven-hour school day that many students dread.

“I love the fact that my weirdness brings people joy,” Dulny said.




Zach’s Sponges:

Dulny is a collector of various items. Around three years ago, Dulny began collecting sponges. Along with the usual clothing and shoes teenagers usually receive for their birthdays, Dulny received sponges. The collection has slowly been growing and he currently owns 308 sponges.

“I’ve always been a collector, I’m a hoarder,” Dulny said. “I like collecting things because it gives me something to do, and that’s fun.”

Dulny’s goal is to get 200 more sponges so he can be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest sponge collection.