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How One High School’s Arby’s Tradition Led to a Big Surprise

By Raj Prashad

Mary Noah and the Shanley High School senior class sat anxiously in the school auditorium. They expected to attend a brief pre-graduation meeting when suddenly the voice of Ving Rhames played over the speaker system.

“Students of Shanley High,” Ving, the voice behind Arby’s commercials, bellowed.

Mary let out an audible gasp and clasped her hand over her mouth. Instantly, she was reminded of the email she sent to Arby’s President Rob Lynch nearly seven months earlier, detailing her high school’s obsession with the “Arby’s… We Have The Meats” tagline.

“Word has gotten back to Arby’s that several of you ‘have the meats.’ In fact, you have the meats so much that you can’t help but yell it everywhere you go,” Ving continued. “So to thank you for your very odd traditions, Arby’s sent food your way.”

Check out Ving’s message to the Shanley High students:

In a frenzy at what had just taken place, the students cheered and chanted “Arby’s… Arby’s… Arby’s!” Fred Stauber of Carisch, Inc., an Arby’s franchisee, then presented Mary with free Arby’s for a year and surprised the students with a catered lunch provided by his restaurant.

“When we heard about what was happening at Shanley High, we wanted to do something special for these students” Fred said. “Our goal at Arby’s is to inspire smiles every day, and I think we accomplished that here.”

For the entire senior class at Shanley, the events leading up to the unexpected surprise can be traced back more than a year earlier. Mary remembers the Arby’s chant catching on toward the end of her junior year. One student would yell, “Arby’s,” during lunch and dozens of others would finish the slogan, “We Have The Meats.”

As summer approached, she expected the chant to fade away. But when Mary returned to school in the fall, the voices behind the Arby’s tagline were stronger than ever.

“We chanted it all throughout the day. It became the new school cheer at sporting events and pep rallies. We even attempted to do a senior prank that centered around turning a teacher’s classroom into an Arby’s restaurant,” Mary said.

One student took his love for Arby’s a step further, publishing an editorial in the school newspaper about a recent visit:

That article set in motion Mary’s email to Arby’s President, which eventually led to Arby’s reaching out to the president of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, Mike Hagstrom. Arby’s worked behind the scenes with Mike for months before bringing the meats to Shanley.

“I am so very grateful to Arby’s for their generosity and their creativity in bringing this event together,” Mike said. “The biggest challenge was to keep it a surprise for our students. It was right in line with the tradition this class developed, and it was a lot of fun. A thousand thank you’s Arby’s.”

And for Mary, it couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate her final day of high school.

“This is something I’ll never forget,” Mary said.

Mary celebrated her high school graduation with a quick stop at Arby’s.